Life in the NICU

10152392_10103540803722851_1740817739_n-1On March 16th, 2014 my life completely changed. I went from being a mom of one to a mom of three. I also became a NICU mama. I gave birth to my twins at 30 weeks and 2 days gestation. Completely unanticipated. My labor and delivery was very short – we arrived at the ER at 4:35am and Twin A was born at 5:02am, followed by Twin B 18 short long minutes later. You can read about my completely unexpected and emergent birth story here!

After spending 7 weeks in the Meriter NICU our babies are finally home with us. It was a life-changing, eye-opening experience. We watched our fragile, delicate 3 pound babies flourish into healthy, strong 6 and 7 pound babies (all in just seven weeks!) Every NICU journey is unique, so instead of writing about ‘how to survive the NICU’ or talking about how challenging it can be or offering unsolicited advice, I am going to share a few simple (but constructive) things that helped me cope throughout our stay.

SET REALISTIC EXPECATIONS

I had no idea what it would be like to be a mom to a baby(ies) in the NICU. Each day was something new. Some days my babies would make leaps and bounds – other days they had taken a step back. Very early on I learned how important it is to have realistic expectations and to completely entrust the lives of my babies into the hands of the doctors and nurses who cared for my twins day in and day out. There will be ups and there will be downs (I learned to be thankful for each and every one of the ‘ups’).

ACCEPT HELP

From the beginning we were told that we could expect to be discharged some time around my gestational due date. At the time that sounded like an eternity, but the days passed by and like anything else in life it will someday just seem like a blip on the radar. Our friends and family were amazing… offering to watch our 20 month old so we could have some relaxing and uninterrupted time with the babies. They cooked us meals so we wouldn’t have to worry about what was for dinner. They offered emotional support so that we knew we weren’t in this alone. They visited our babies in the hospital and showered them with love. I learned how to say ‘YES’ when friends asked if they could help (something I haven’t always been so good about!).

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, TOO

Immediately after my babies were born, I didn’t want to leave their sides. Yes, they needed me… but in a different way. I spent countless hours by their bedside. My car could probably drive to Meriter on auto-pilot! I pumped milk for them around the clock and I was with them as much as I could be, while still trying to keep some normalcy at home. That being said, during their stay I enjoyed a girls night out with my close friends, I had a date night with my husband, I took my toddler to play dates and I desperately tried to keep things as ‘normal’ as I could. I always felt somewhat desolate when I had to say good-bye to my babies for the night. There was guilt when I wasn’t with them. But I am so grateful that I was able to continue to do a few things for myself, for my husband, for my toddler. Taking care of myself makes me a better mom and a better wife.

SCHEDULE A NICU NEWBORN PHOTO-SHOOT WITH TINY FOOTPRINTS

The Tiny Footprints Project is a FREE and incredible service available to all families who have a baby(ies) in the NICU! It is a way to preserve both the stress-filled AND awe-inspiring moments of what life is like in the NICU. We were SO lucky to have K Gardner Photography capture photos of our sweet babies and our family. The Tiny Footprints Project is a nationwide non-profit – such an amazing opportunity!

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I never would have chosen to give birth at 30 weeks. I would have much rather gained another 10 or 15 or 25… heck even 50 pounds… I would have preferred bed rest… I would have chosen stretch marks, discomfort, restless nights, you name it. But there was no choice in the matter so instead I chose to make the most of the hand that was dealt and to be so incredibly thankful for the fact that my babies will be okay. Yes… things could have been easier, but they could have been a whole heck of a lot worse. So today I choose to be thankful and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Alisa was born and raised in Iowa before attending Arizona State University. She then lived in Chicago, Georgia and Florida before settling in Madison. From her nomadic lifestyle grew a love for the beach, as well as a fondness for spicy food, sushi, white wine, southern charm, Diamondbacks baseball and idyllic ocean sunsets. Alisa and her husband, Joe, are parents to Ava Mae (August 2012) and twins, Nora & Jacob (March 2014). Alisa is a work-from-home mompreneur with a passion for business, fashion, fitness, community and all things mom. When she’s not enjoying time at home with her family, you can find her sweating it out on the tennis court, training for the next big race, pinning her heart out on Pinterest and exploring Madison with her little ones (and sweet Boston Terrier, Peaches) in tow.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for sharing your post. As a mother of two Meriter preemie babies (a 31.6 week old in 2011 and a 35.3 week old in 2014) I completely relate and share your feelings. They do fantastic work in the NICU and the staff is amazing; they actually start to become part of your family. Its a tough and sometimes long journey up there but makes that eventual trip home so much more rewarding. Glad to hear all is well with the twins!

    • My NICU nurse cried when we left after 6 weeks, and therefore I also started balling. They DO totally become family! We loved our experience at Meriter.

  2. I am so glad that your babies are home and are doing well.

    I prayed for your and your family when I heard about the early delivery. We never know what will will happen in our lifetime.

    I hope this will continue to be a beautiful story that you will share with your children. Congratulations to all of you.

  3. I am so glad that your babies are home and are doing well.

    I prayed for you and your family when I heard about the early delivery. We never know what will will happen in our lifetime.

    I hope this will continue to be a beautiful story that you will share with your children. Congratulations to all of you.

  4. Congratulations on the new journey you are on!!! A busy life but one that is so amazing!!! Great to see your writing !!!

  5. I wish this photography service had been available when my son was born at 23 weeks in December 2012! Fortunately one of his nurses had a photography business on the side and took pictures for us. They are sometimes hard to look at but I’m so thankful I have them! Also, as a result of our experience, another NICU mom and I have started a NICU Parent support group. Find us on Facebook as Wisconsin NICU Parents. Email us at [email protected]. Website to come!

  6. I am a fraternal twin I can not explain the connection these to babies are going to feel you are so blessed to have both. God Bless

  7. Great post! My son was born at 28 weeks and spent 84 days in the NICU in Seattle. As a former “Madisonian” who is moving back in June, I’m glad to know I’ve got access to ongoing support and families with similar stories.

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