- Diaper changing.
- Baby sleep patterns
- Feeding the baby.
- Bathing the baby.
These are some typical things that parents worry about when they have a child. Oh how we long to be concerned with those things right now. But that's just looking too far down the road. Our boys were born 3 months premature and will be in the NICU for quite some time. Since their birth, here's a sample of things that we worry about everyday:
Heart murmurs, brain bleeds, blood pressure, body temperatures, meningitis, pneumonia, spinal taps, ventilator settings, red blood cells count, blood transfusions, whether or not they're digesting, blood oxygen concentration levels, etc
It's enough to drive anyone mad. You know those parts that you tend to skip over when reading pregnancy books? You figure that it's just talking about things that won't happen to you, so you jump ahead to the "normal" stuff. I had to go back to read those sections because it's actually happening.
"When are the babies coming home?"
That's the question we get asked a lot and it's awkward for a two reasons.
1. The truth is we don't know. The doctors don't know either. Each child is different and there's just no timetable that can be given to us. Some babies spend a month in the NICU, others are there for over half a year. There's just too many variables at the moment. In order for the boys to come home, there are a couple of things they must be able to do:
-Breathe efficiently on their own. That is, they have to ween off the ventilator.
-Regulate their own body temperature. That is, they have to be able to keep warm outside the incubator.
-Feed. That is, they have to be able to take a bottle. For a full-term infant, this comes as a natural instinct. But for a preemie, this is quite a task since feeding is actually a complex synchronization of sucking, swallowing, and breathing.
2. One would assume that having the babies come home from the NICU would be what we're longing for. Sure, that's the ultimate goal but for now, we just want the simplest of things:
-We want to be able to see our babies' faces. We've never had an unobstructed view of our boys' faces. The vent tube is always on them.
-We want our boys to meet each other for the first time. As of now, our boys have never seen each other. Their incubators are situated in different sections of the NICU.
- We want to be able to hold our babies. Since they're attached to the vent, various monitors, and IV tubes, we've never been able to hold them. The most we can do right now is to reach into their incubators and wrap our hands around them.