Nothing prepared me for walking into the NICU the first time and seeing my babies hooked up to all sorts of monitors, breathing machines, feeding tubes and patches over their eyes. They are so tiny, helpless and fragile. Watching them fighting for their life humbled me, I wondered how can they get the rest
they need with all these lights and sounds all around them. It was
overwhelming. I had worried about them before they were born now it was a
whole new set of worries and prayers.
We were given a tour of the NICU to familiarize us with the rules, equipment and procedures and it helped reduce our fears somewhat. We had to learn everything about caring for them under these circumstances. It was a crash course in Baby 101, NICU style. The NICU staff at our hospital was amazing. The triplets primary care nurse was a wonderful woman who was hearing impaired. She was unbelievable, never missing a thing the triplets needed. The NICU taught us the best thing we could do to stop illness is to wash our hands before we picked up a baby. Developing this habit helped tremendously when we finally had the babies at home.
Our triplets were all about 3 lbs. and 16” in length. Since the lungs are the last thing to develop they required oxygen for a while. We could not just pick them up and love on them. The philosophy our NICU practiced was a type of “kangaroo care”; this meant we held the babies on our chest for 30 minutes at a time. They explained that holding the baby was stimulating to them and they shouldn’t
be moved around a lot. For further information about the benefits of kangaroo care www.babycenter.com/303_preemie-care-feeding see kangaroo care.
We had to learn how to hold them to feed them. There is a certain way to hold a premature child to help with the feeding and their breathing. We were allowed to try and feed them for about 20 minutes at a time, then the nurses would put the formula into the feeding tube. More pressure because they have to be off the
feeding tube to go home. For more information see
We even had to learn how to bathe a preemie with all the wires attached. Boy, they were slippery when wet! Their bath tub was a tiny plastic tub. At times I just felt so helpless and not in control. Everything requires special effort and knowledge. It was intimidating not to mention exhausting.
Every NICU has requirements or milestones the babies have to meet before they are released. For information see http://preemies.about.com/od/preemieagesandstages/a/NICUMilestones.htm.
I remember that we had to have a pediatrician, an appointment scheduled with the pediatrician, we had to take a CPR class and the babies had to pass a
car seat test. We also had to spend the night in the hospital with the baby in our room who was going home with us. This gave us the opportunity to take care of the baby on our own in case we had any questions or problems. After a month in the NICU, Hannah came home; then Sam arrived a week and a half later. Another two weeks and Nick got to come home; he required oxygen and a monitor in case he stopped breathing. Nick’s special equipment was a little cumbersome and intimidating. He remained on oxygen for about 3 months.
At times it was problematic to have to go to the hospital to see the babies, when we had one or two at home. But we needed to spend time with all of them, at home and at the hospital. Knowing they were in a safe environment while we were at home helped greatly. All in all we were blessed with healthy children. It was wonderful to have them all at home.
Anyone else have experiences with the NICU?
I would appreciate any comments or questions.
Click to see pictures of triplets in the NICU