Monday, June 08, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let's start with the ugly. That would be me as a finalist in the "Show us your Guts" contest. Indeedy, I may be a winner by the time you read this. (If it's still Monday, go vote on for the freaky woman with the ginormous belly. The main competition is She-ripped who is pretty and her abs are rock hard!) And yes, I am un-anonymizing (a word?) myself and I am not usually this unattractive. It is actually the last picture of the babies inside me. Dave took it Monday night while I was resting in the hospital. I knew after he took it that I looked freakily enormous and apparently, quite a few TMZ readers agree with my assessment. (One of my nurses just stopped by and said that everyone on this shift is voting for me. Awwww!) Updated: Voting still going on Tuesday.

So that's the ugly. Let's move on to the bad. Although I am feeling a thousand times better today than I did yesterday, having our babies in the NICU is hard. Folks, it is just hard. I had my children 3 days ago and I have yet to hold them. I haven't even seen Christopher's hair, which I've heard is dark brown. His CPAP is covering his head and there are tubes coming out of his nose and there is tape all over his face. Today, I did get to hold a pacifier in for him while he was waiting for his food. I have held Bridget's hand and foot, but she is quite the firecracker (according to the nurses) and will get angry if she is disturbed too much. So I can't really interact with her yet because it hurts her breathing, her oxygen intake and her heart rate. That sort of sucks, in case you were wondering. I know (hope, believe) that I will be able to hold and bond and parent my children, but at this point, I feel like a visitor to my own children's bedsides. And not everything is to my liking. They are in separate isolettes. My understanding is that twins do much better when they are healing together. Another problem is that a friend who works here was so excited to tell me that they'll be on a schedule when they leave her. I looked at her and had to explain, that's not really my parenting style. I fully understand that twins cannot be "on demand" like singletons, but I've got to learn more about this whole scheduling thing. Surely, they aren't "Baby Wise" in the NICU.

In any case, having one's children in the NICU is hard. It is not fun. It is not "oh, everything will be fine in just a few weeks." It is tough now and it will be tough for a while, especially since our little ones are going to be there for a couple of weeks.

So, now, let's turn to the Good. Bridget has finally picked up some speed on her recovery. And my output from pumping has picked up considerably. Since the only thing that I can do for my babies is pump milk, it's taken on some serious importance to me. But first, the progress of Christopher and Bridget. (Holy cow! I have two new people in my family! I can't wait to get to meet them and know them!!!) Christopher is a giant among preemies. And despite my predictions of his very active self from all his kicking, he follows in his father's and his brother's mellow styles of being. He is eating well--so well, they've increased his feeding schedule. He has had at least 2 if not 3 trials of breathing of his own and has done well. He is really doing great.

Bridget is taking a little longer than him to hit the NICU milestones--"not progressing as well" as one nurse said. Usually they have problems with the Wimpy White Boys in NICU. She was showing signs of being a Whimpy White Girl. Last night, when we went to bed, we were told that if she didn't start breathing with less than 25% (30%?) oxygen, they were going to have to do a chest x-ray to look for fluid on her lungs or other problems. This morning, when I called at 5 am, I found out that she had stayed below the required oxygen all night long and didn't need the chest x-ray. I was thrilled. She even got to start eating today and we came down for her first feeding. It was pretty exciting to watch the food go down her tube while she sucked on a pacifier. Yes, let's wander back to the bad since that is not how anyone envisions their child's first meal.

Folks, I am thrilled about these beautiful little babies that have completed our family. And I am heartbroken sitting in my hospital room by myself without them. And I feel guilty as hell that I had all these health problems and I couldn't carry them to term. I am proud of myself that they were as big as they were. But I still feel sort of like a failure that I couldn't make it any longer. And I feel a little bit angry at the doctor's for not giving them steroids for lung development earlier. I know that their delivery caught everyone by surprise, but still. And Kate/Ema did ask why they didn't do that. Have I even told their birth story yet?

In any case, I have more to write about. But I do need to get some sleep. I'm pumping in another hour, but still, those naps help me rest up.

I know everyone reacts differently. And I'm glad to have these premature babies in this day and age. But I would really rather that they never spent an hour in NICU, much less two to three weeks. I wish they were in my room and in my arms practicing their nursies right now.


Kim said...

Our little one was 2 weeks coming to us because she was too little to come home. As she is adopted, and coming from a distance, we didn't even get to see her during that time. Excruciating. I cried about those two weeks for months, even though we quickly bonded after them. I feel a bit of your pain.

Carroll said...

Anita, my heart goes out to you. It had honestly not occurred to me (doh) that in ICU you would not even be able to hold them. Of *course* you are on a roller coaster of emotions right now! And, having to be separated from each other? Aieeee! Babies/kids are so resilient -- intellectually, you know they will both be just fine, but emotionally? This has got to be really tough on you. Hang in there, lady. Soon, very soon, you will be home and beginning your new life as a family of five.

Carroll said...

PS, I voted for you!
And you were running ahead by one percentage point at the time :-)

Michelle said...

I can only imagine how hard it is to have your babies in the NICU. I will definitely keep them and your family in my prayers. Hopefully things will progress smoothly and quickly so they can go home soon to be a family of 5.

Ashlyn said she got to meet y'all and Conor. Hopefully she will be a good resource for your family to make things a little bit easier while Bridget and Christopher are in the NICU.

**Sorry for my excitement about the scheduling. I was trying to highlight some "positives" with the NICU to help reduce some nervousness. You are the main expert about your children--even in the NICU. The nurses and doctors may take care of the medical stuff--but you are their mother to take care of the really important things :)

I enjoy reading your perspective as I'm sure most parents feel this way or something similar---I wonder if that is how my own parents felt when my sister and I were in the NICU when we were born. I may just ask them :) Thanks for sharing!


Carroll said...

Anita! Very important question!! I completely forgot to ask about the hair!!! Any sign of your trademark curly hair yet on either one of those undoubtedly-gonna-be-gorgeous-no-matter-what babies??

Elizabeth said...

I can only imagine how hard it must be to not be able to hold the little guys. It sounds gut-wrenching.

KMF said...

Figuring out how to be a mother to babies in a NICU is very hard. My heart aches for you and your empty arms. I too turned my "mothering" to the breast pump. It appeased the guilt a little.

The "What to Expect" book does nothing to prepare you for NICU mothering. You seem to be creative and I have confidence you will find ways to mother that will bring you peace and benefit your babies.

If you haven't already and you think it might help, find a nurse you like and ask her if she would consider being a primary nurse for the babies. It helped my ups and downs and the continuity of all of our care to have a regular nurse. I loved Deb Darby and her daughter Mary at Presby Main.

Best wishes to you in the coming days.

(3 months of NICU mothering)

MoDLin said...

Visit Share Your Story ( where you can connect with other parents of preemies and share hopes, fears, experiences, advice, funny stories... the whole rollercoaster. You'll find lots of great support.