A nurse said to me at the beginning of the boys NICU stay “Buckle in because you are now on the biggest rollercoaster ride of your life” How right she was. There were the most exhilarating highs where you could actually see HOPE followed by incredibly intense lows which is where my wall bashing and screaming came in.
Right at the start time felt like it was in the birthing suite, where every single second counted, we were living completely moment to moment every minute was a victory. I have never lived my life in such an intense way. Your appreciation of seconds when it means life and death is phenomenal.
My boys were right in the middle of NICU right next to the nurse’s station. They had one Nurse each. You know it’s serious when your boys are in that position. They started their life in their incubators, wrapped in plastic, under little heat lamps for their jaundice, they wore tiny little eye masks, they had wires going through their belly button as they were too little to put any into their veins, they had little wires attached to their chest which measured things such as their heart rate, they had a tube going down their lungs which actually had to manually breath for them, they didn’t even wear a nappy in the very beginning as their skin was so sensitive it could tear away with the slightest touch, they didn’t get fed-their tiny tummies were far too immature, and of course we could not touch them. In fact, it was a very long seventeen days until I could hold one of them.
Such extreme premature babies will actually lose weight in the first couple of weeks because they can’t be fed. I can’t remember how much weight the boys lost but they got below 500 grams.
I was still in hospital recovering from my caesarean and just having my infection markers checked on, which were coming down (yah!) The milk pumping had begun, which was a bizarre situation, sitting at the milking machine pumping away like a cow when two of my babies were in neonatal intensive care and my other was in the morgue. I had actually been given a private room with a balcony which was lovely but it was that moment I realised life had just continued despite my daughter’s death. When I was alone I could not stop crying. It felt like I would never be able to put back the pieces of my broken heart. I was worried for the boys. I knew what losing a baby in NICU was like. I had moments of realisation when I realised I might go home with no babies. I thought how could life be so cruel to bless me with triplets and not be able to bring any home? My hysterectomy was looming. I had been forced to be so strong this whole journey, but I knew if I left this hospital without my boy’s whatever strength I had would just shatter. Daniel came and wheeled me outside for the first time. I had not had fresh air for six weeks- seems like such a small amount of time! But I had not felt the sunshine on my face. Everything seemed so bright and beautiful. I remember saying to Daniel everything moves so fast!! LOL
The Neonatologist who started our journey with us was incredible. She spoke to us in such a soothing matter of fact way, that just made you feel like she had it all under control. She explained everything that happened and was patient answering all of our stuttered repeated questions over and over again. I was so grateful for her. But at the same time, you are trying to wrap your head around these really severe complicated medical issues.
On admission and during their stay the complications read like this-
Respiratory distress syndrome
Unconfirmed congenital infection
Persistent/patent ductus arteriosus
Apnea of prematurity
Chronic lung disease
Retinopathy of prematurity
Unconfirmed acquired infection
Rickets of prematurity
Intracranial imaging abnormality
Acquired urinary tract infection
Central venous catheter sepsis
Non-birth related skin and integument Injury
I promise in another post I will break down these complications for you. Why do I write them here now? I guess it’s important for you to know that at 23 weeks’ gestation it is well and truly the grey zone. No one can tell you the outcomes. No one has a crystal ball (if I had a dollar for every time I heard that) Before my boys were born they were given a 20% chance of survival. Yet I knew in my bones that I was being told to fight for these boys- so we did. But it has been the most complicated heartbreaking journey of my life. As a parent, you are always doubting yourself. But I will never ever doubt the decision to fight for my babies….
Sometimes you just need to believe in miracles.