Posts filed under NICU

National Kangaroo Care Day

In honor of National Kangaroo Care Day, I reminisce on the first couple of weeks in which we utilized kangaroo care to help Andley & Silas maintain body temperature, gain weight, regulate breathing and heart rate.  We also used kangaroo care as a way to bond since they were in the NICU and I strongly believe it helped them to improve more quickly. It also allowed us to connect with them emotionally and physically, which was something we really struggled with every night we had to leave them. We ended up continuing it after we got home for a few weeks as well and it was just so comforting to all four of us to be so close and connected.

Kangaroo Care is such an essential part of life for a preterm baby. Study after study shows the significant benefits that preterm babies receive by being put skin-to-skin to their parents, mothers in particular. 

Those moments of closeness will be cherished forever. 

Posted on May 15, 2014 and filed under NICU, Twins.

Exclusively Pumping: My Life with Medela

For the last 12.5 months I have been hooked up to a breast pump for several hours a day, whether at home or in the car. I am so thankful I have been blessed with the opportunity to be able to produce enough milk for A & S and be successful but I am also very excited to finally be weaning and not have to stop and pump every few hours.

First, let me start out by saying I'm no breastfeeding/pumping radical and I would never suggest that you're any less of a parent for using formula. I ensure you that formula doesn't make you any less of a mama and you should never have to justify your choice and/or reasoning behind not breastfeeding. 

3 days after delivery. I remember being soooo happy to get this much.

3 days after delivery. I remember being soooo happy to get this much.

Put simply, I attempted to breastfeed A & S but it was quite difficult since they had been fed through feeding tubes and then fed with bottles while they were in the NICU.  The nurses gave me many opportunities to attempt to breastfeed but A & S simply preferred the bottle over the boob.  I was okay with this, as my goal of breastfeeding was less about the emotional attachment and more about the health benefits. I continued to try every once in awhile once we got home and S would latch on for a bit, and I think I could have successfully breastfed him, but A was not having it.  I was not about to breastfeed one and pump for the other... that is for the birds! Instead, I decided I would exclusively pump for as long as I could.  I began pumping in the hospital within a few hours of delivery and I continue to do so 12.5 months later but I'm slowly weaning off and plan to be done by 13.5 months!

Regardless of your views on breastfeeding, I would say breastfeeding and/or pumping is one of the most selfless things a mother can do for her child if she is able to. 

Essentials of Exclusively pumping:

  • A great pump- I don't think you can really go wrong with a Medela, except the manual which is not realistic if you plan to pump more than once a day. I love my Medela Pump in Style Advanced.
  • Car adapter- this thing is a true life saver.  I save so much time being able to pump while I am driving. Plus, the babies are in their car seats and usually asleep instead of being upset I'm not holding or playing with them.
  • Hands free bra-  can you say multi-task?!  No baby, especially twins, is going to play independently for a whole pump session for several months! I tried the Medela bustier but I prefer the Simple Wishes, which has a lot more support.
  • Nipple cream & pads-  miracle in a tube for the first couple of months. 
  • Storage bags-  I tried the medela, nuk, lanolin and Up & Up and Up & Up are my favorite.  Just don't fill them more than 6 oz's or they are highly likely to get a hole... trust me,  I know from many times of doing so.
  • Bottles-  that fit your pump and enough for storage and feeding.
  • Soap- I used plain Palmolive but any kind is fine.  I always soak my pump gear and bottles in hot soapy water before washing them.  The tubs from the hospital work great for this!
  • Nursing bra-  I don't have much advice on this, because I could not find a properly fitted nursing bra.  The closest I could get was at Motherhood. Good luck if you have breasts larger than a D.
  • Sleep bra-  I love Target's Gilligan & O'Malley sleep bras
  • 2 sets of breast shields, valves and membranes to fit your pump
  • Insulated snack bag(s) and reusable ice cubes to keep milk cold when on the go.  My personal preference is the Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens Snack Bags.  Convenient, affordable AND cute! When you need a larger supply such as road trips etc. a roomy cooler bag and re-freezable ice block work great!
  • Last but certainly not least- a support system.  My husband, family and friends have been super supportive.  Whether it's helping with the babies while I pump, letting me pump at their house without feeling awkward and just simply being there to say "keep it up", "you're doing awesome", "I'm proud of you"... it's those simple words that keep you going.  Exclusively pumping is a lot of work and takes a lot of patience and commitment but I promise you can do it as long as your body allows you to produce milk! Keep it up and know you are AWESOME and your persistence and commitment mean the world to your sweet baby xoxo.

My pumping schedule:

  • 1-3 months: every 2 hours, including overnight.
  • 3-5 months: every 2 hours and dropped the overnight sessions ((hallelujah))
  • 5-12 months: every 3-4 hours
  • Since the 12 month mark I have been weaning which has looked something like this:
    • Week 1: every 4-5 hours
    • Week 2: every 5-6 hours
    • Week 3 &4:  two sessions a day/ morning & night.  I'm not pumping until empty but enough to be comfortable. 

Thus far, I haven't had any issues or discomfort by slowly weaning.  I was pumping 60+ oz's a day and I'm down to about 24oz's a day.  I will be cutting the time in half or eliminating one of my pump sessions soon. In the mean time I'm freezing it all to donate to the Oklahoma Mother's Milk Bank, which is used to nourish critically ill infants.  I wish I would have contacted them sooner, as I have thrown away several hundred oz's of milk that went bad before I could use it. 

I highly encourage you to contact your local milk bank and see how you can help: https://www.hmbana.org/milk-bank-locations I mean how amazing is it that you can help nourish babies who have no other way to get the awesome nourishment they get from breast milk!?!?

Feel free to ask any questions!


Posted on March 29, 2014 and filed under Motherhood, Scruncy Mama Tips, Twins, NICU.

Our Journey in the NICU

Our week long journey in the NICU...

No book...no words... nothing can prepare you for the emotional pain you experience when you have a child(ren) in the NICU. The pain is individual, unimaginable, and draining. Not being able to talk to, touch, or hold A & S with the exception of the few seconds after birth, was absolutely heart wrenching. When your child cries out and wiggles around the radiant warmer and/or incubator and you can't comfort them, your heart will break every.single.time.

The first day, I didn't get to see them until around 8 o'clock that evening. Up until then, we had many visitors who came to see us and A & S, so I spent several hours trying to recover from surgery and visit with everyone. It was hard knowing everyone else was getting to see my sweet babies before I was but I was so appreciative of all the support and words of encouragement from close friends and family.

Once I saw A & S attached to all the machines and IV's it hit me like a ton of bricks.  "Why, oh why, do our sweet innocent babies have to go through this? Why do we as a family have to go through this?" Many thoughts and questions ran through my mind.

Our handsome S with his blonde/red hair and blue eyes started crying and I broke down in tears.  I couldn't hold my baby, I couldn't touch him, I couldn't even talk to him and he needed me more than ever.  Looking back, maybe I needed him more than ever.

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A was sleeping which was such a a sense of relief.  It was so nice to see her content and happy.  She looked like a little angel who was absolutely perfect, her dark brown hair and blue eyes took our breath away!

Andley

Andley

Silas

Silas

They were both on CPAP machines, feeding tubes, several IV's and in radiant warmers.  For some reason the whole IV in the head thing really freaked me out, it just seemed like it would be so painful, but I now know it's much more convenient than the hands and feet which just get irritated after so much movement. Silas was also jaundice for several days and was under the bili-light but thankfully that only lasted a few days.

For the first few days it seemed like something was always setting us back, whether it was one of them not keeping their feedings down, not having bowel movements, not maintaining their body temperature, not being able to breathe well without the CPAP, or Silas' billirubin levels not lowering. It was an emotional roller coaster.

We were so ready for everything to level out and for them to be healthy enough to go home with us.  We were absolutely dreading leaving the hospital without them.  When my OBGYN came to check on me, I remember her asking if I wanted to go home that day or stay another day, as insurance would paid for it.  I immediately told her i wanted to stay as long as insurance would pay for it. I did not want to leave my babies for any longer than I had to. 

That night, Andrew and I got back to the room and got ready for bed.  I couldn't go to sleep knowing we would be leaving the next day without our sweet babies.  I cried and cried and cried. Andrew crawled up in the hospital bed with me and did all that he could to comfort me.  Nothing he said or did would allow A & S to come home any earlier but his words of encouragement made it much more bearable.

Then, I felt so selfish for all the feelings I had been experiencing about the situation.  Most of the other babies in the NICU were born much more prematurely and/or had significant health problems. I remember a set of grandparents coming in asking the nurse why their grand baby was or wasn't doing something and her reply was  "Well, you know he is really sick".  How devastating... we never heard anything like that with A & S and we were still heartbroken and emotionally drained. 

I spent the next several days traveling to and from the hospital to spend the days with A & S.  During shift change, I would wait in the NICU waiting room, and do crossword puzzles to pass the time.  Andrew would meet me up there when he got off work and we would go back in to the NICU to feed and love on A & S.

The NICU nurses were truly wonderful.  They made the adjustment to leaving A & S every night much easier by showing how much they truly cared for each and every baby.  Every night we left, regardless of how tough it was, we knew A & S were going to get the second best thing to us... the loving NICU nurses. 

When your child(ren) is in the NICU, they don't tell you when they may get to go home, as they don't want to disappoint families when things change. The unknown is always scary and frustrating but it was amazing when I had just been at the hospital that Thursday, left while they did shift change and came back to find our sweet babies in a normal bed with NO tubes, NO oxygen and NO IV's!  Being told we would likely be rooming in the next night and then being discharged was one of the best days of our lives! It was such a nice surprise.

Luckily, our prayers had been answered and Friday night we were able to room in and get educated on the care of a preemie.  It was interesting being with our babies overnight for the first time with all eyes on us but it didn't phase us, as we were so excited! That was the first of many sleepless nights to come...

When we were leaving the hospital and about to load everything into the car the next morning the nurse looked at S and decided we needed to go back to the NICU because he wasn't getting enough oxygen, which was apparent by his mouth turning blue.  This was really scary and disappointing as we were so excited they seemed to be doing so well and we were going home. 

Luckily, we ended up just having to adjust the car seats differently so that his airway was able to stay open properly.  This made for a very nerve-wrecking experience but the nurses didn't seem too concerned.  Regardless, we were nervous the whole ride home.  The hospital was only about 25 minutes away from our home but 1.) it is scary driving with your baby for the first time. I can almost guarantee you will never drive as cautiously as you do when you take your baby home for the first time. 2.) We were so worried S was going to quit breathing at any moment that we ended up pulling over halfway home to check on them both. 

We arrived home to my mom who had been deep cleaning our house for the arrival of sweet A & S. This was just the beginning of our village of family and friends helping and supporting our journey into parenthood.

The days, weeks, and months since then have been one big adventure and I can't wait to share it all with you...

Posted on December 16, 2013 and filed under Motherhood, Twins, NICU.