- For the first week of the babies’ life, I slept at the hospital. I was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, May 25th, but was actually allowed to stay on “courtesy” stay an additional 48 hours. You wouldn’t think that anyone would actually want to stay at the hospital, but I was just fine there. I was just one floor up from my babies and I could come and go from my room just as I pleased and I didn’t have any nurses checking on me every 4-6 hours. It was like a sterile hotel and I loved it. So while I was in the hospital for the first week, we went to see the babies every chance we could. Usually the first morning feeding at 8am, then 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. Sometimes we would skip the afternoon or late morning feeding just because we needed to take a nap, but it was a great blessing to be so close to the babies and to see their progress in the first week.
- I learned the morning after the boys were born, the rules of the NICU. We would get buzzed into the NICU just by telling our name, and we definitely became a fixture after being there for 5 weeks. Once you got in, you put your stuff up, hand the pumped milk off to a nurse to put in the refrigerator and get ready to scrub in, 3 minutes (there was a timer) from your fingertips to your elbows. There was no jewelry allowed in the NICU because that could carry bacterial which could in turn be passed to the babies (I broke this rule the first week.) After scrubbing in, I would always use the antibacterial hand sanitizer. Not only were we to use this when we first came in, but also when you handled a different baby and after every time that you left, you were told to use the hand sanitizer. This took the place of having to wash every time you switched babies. Speaking of washing hands, one critical piece of information I learned the first day was that you must go to the restroom before you come to the NICU, because there was no restrooms inside. If you did end up needing to go to the restroom while inside, you would have to go through 4 doors to get to the lobby to go and then start the whole process over again. Get buzzed in and then re-scrub in. So lesson learned, take care of business before entering the NICU.
- There was a limit of 2 people per baby and one had to be a parent at all times. We were labeled as parents at all times with the hospital bracelets that matched the boys. I was given these bracelets before I was even wheeled out of the OR after my surgery. We wore those bracelets religiously for 5 weeks straight and boy were they nasty when we finally took them off. We were fortunate in that, we had two little boys, so we could technically get 4 people (including ourselves) in at all times. In the beginning of their stay in the NICU, it was a little annoying because the boys were actually in separate beds across the room from each other. So if we had visitors with us, then a parent had to be with each of the boys. When the doctor would make his rounds, which often happened while we were there the first week, we would each hear the results for one baby. By the end of the second week, we were moved to one bed, so we could be with each other and both of the boys. So nice. We were still in the open area of the NICU, so we didn’t have much privacy, but we did have both boys in the same crib. Once we were stable and on our way to going home (a week and half before we left), they moved us into one of the 3 private rooms in the NICU. This was by far the best arrangement because it was somewhat secluded and we didn’t feel as exposed to the rest of the NICU.
|Truett & Ellis|
|Truett & Ellis|
- Starting on Saturday May 28, I began going to the hospital 3 times a day. I split my up and went to the hospital at 8am, 2pm and 8pm. The boys were on different feeding schedules, so that the nurses would be able to feed them one after another. Ellis was feed on the half hours at 830, 230, and 830 and Truett was fed on the hour at 9, 3 and 9. Obviously, they were also fed at 11 and 5 and during the night, but these were the best times for us to be there. The second week that they were in the hospital, Zach was still off from Home Depot, so he was able to go with me on Tuesday and Thursday. He had had gone back to his design job though so he couldn’t come during the day on MWF, so my mom took me. We would park in the Expecting/New Mother parking daily (a nice perk) and make our way to see the babies. Once inside, we would watch the nurses as they did their assessment: measuring the belly, drawing any residual from the NG tube, checking the measurement of the NG tube, and checking the soft spot. Then, they would allow us to take the temp, and change the diaper. Then, it was time to feed. I would usually get Ellis ready and hand him off to be held by my mom or whoever came with me during his NG tube feed, while I got Truett ready for his feeding. Since their tummies were so tiny, they were being fed over an hour through the Gavage system, which is a machine that compresses a syringe over a period of time. If we weren’t able to stay for the full hour, then we wouldn’t hold them because the nurses didn’t really like the babies to be jostled while feeding. Once they were done feeding, we would hold them for a little bit, and then put them back in bed to rest until the next time.
- During the time that I wasn’t at the hospital, I was usually pumping or eating. I took my breaks from the hospital during the lunch and dinner time hours, so it gave me ample time to get some things done like take a nap, or accept the food that was being delivered to our house by the many different friends and family who had signed up on the care calendar. One night after being at the hospital, Zach and I decided to stop by Mickey D’s, for a snack and we tried the Frozen Strawberry Lemonade. We were hooked. I can’t remember how many I had, but during the time the boys were in the hospital we had quite a few. Even after they came home, we were still hooked because it was so hot this summer.
It is possible to breastfeed and have babies in the NICU... it's just not easy. Keep watch for the next post.