Sunday, March 25, 2012

Scenes from the NICU

I have a sister that lives in Denver. (Hi Linds!) She has not been able to come out and meet the boys yet. She has also brought to my attention just how terrible I am at sending pictures. I also kind of fell off the map while we were in the NICU, but those 10 days deserve to be remembered.

Sunday morning after the boys were born, we had just finished the most successful breastfeeding of the past 2 days with our wonderful nurse Kimberlie. She left and I started pumping to help get my supply up when the door opens and a man I've never seen before comes in. I am completely exposed, but he doesn't leave. He then proceeds to talk down to me and tell me that my perfect, healthy, beautiful boys are being admitted to the NICU. He tells me that according to his chart they're just not doing well enough. All the while, my chest is completely bare, Cameron is in the corner with Nash unable to do anything about it, and I just keep saying "Ok." to get him to leave. If my boys need some extra help, that's fine, but do NOT talk down to me like I don't know my own children and that your "chart" will explain everything. You do not know me. You do not know my boys. He had the gall to mention how great it would be to have the boys in the NICU because if I'm "too tired" to come for a late feeding they can "just give them a bottle of formula." This being said to me after I've completely killed myself to get my milk in after 48 hours on magnesium sulfate did not go over well, to say the least.  Also, have the decency, you complete JERK to come back in 5 minutes when I've finished pumping and can cover up like EVERYONE ELSE does who accidentally comes in during that time. He finally leaves and I call my nurse, Kimberlie, in. I was NOT happy.

When Kimberlie came in, I was pretty angry. She completely understood. She had seen the pediatrician in the hallway and he mentioned to her that the boys needed to be admitted to the NICU for 12 days. She turned to him and said "Do not tell that mom 12 days. She will tear you apart." Kimberlie then went to the NICU with me and Cam to meet the boys' new nurse. She also got the boys the bed right next to the window across the hall from my room. I would be sleeping 10 feet away from them and could peek through the window at them whenever I wanted. Kimberlie was amazing.

My doctor came in and checked my blood pressure, which was still high (go figure.) Kimberlie had told him what happened with the pediatrician and the Dr. said that they needed to keep me for another day for monitoring and that they would contact my insurance to let them know there was a medical need.

In a matter of 10 minutes, I had been told that I was being discharged that day and my boys were coming home with me, that I was being discharged that day and my boys were NOT coming home with me, to I was not being discharged that day and my boys were not coming home with me.

I also requested that said JERK of a pediatrician not evaluate my boys ever again nor speak to me about their progress. The nurse asked which pediatrician. I don't even remember his name, but when Kimberlie told her, she looked at me and said "we get requests like this all the time about him. His bedside manner really sucks."

Cameron was a complete star during all this. He kept acting the part of the excited dad, which I needed. I was doing all I could to keep it together and put my brave face on. I was told the boys needed feeding tubes placed. I didn't want to be there alone when they placed them. Cameron was there. So was my brave face.

I think the boys knew that I wasn't very OK at this point too, because Gray didn't even wake up when his tube was placed and Nash calmed down as soon as he heard my voice. It's really nice to be reminded that among all the monitors and tubes and nurses, they still need me because I am their mom.

Once things settled down a bit, I got to cuddle with my boys. I was able to wrap my head around things a little bit better. We had a wonderful nurse who set clear goals and milestones to accomplish in order to get these boys home. What was going on, that I didn't understand was yes, the boys were eating well, but they were burning more calories than they were taking in at each feeding, which means they would just continue to lose weight. Especially because my milk hadn't come in yet, this would just get more and more dangerous and they would continue to lose strength until real problems started to show up. My milk was delayed even further because of that stupid magnesium sulfate and the blood transfusion that had to happen the night before. So, we weren't expecting my milk for another 3 days at the earliest.

Seeing as my milk coming in was step 1 in getting these boys home, I was up for anything to get it to come in earlier. My aunt stopped by to visit me and the boys and mentioned Alfalfa supplements. My mom and her were apparently thinking on the same wavelength because 2 hours later, my mom brought lunch and a whole bottle of Alfalfa. I took 3 capsules and the next time I pumped I had quadrupled my supply. Considering I was getting about 1 mL each time, going up to 4 mLs was a big deal. We fed the boys whatever I pumped through their feeding tubes using syringes.

The goal was to eventually get my boys to the point where they were strong enough to take 8 full feedings every 24 hours without using the tube. We started trying 1 breastfeeding in every 4 feedings. Between feedings, I would just pump like mad to try and increase supply. Adding in the Alfalfa, we were in business. My milk came in within 24 hours! Boom. (Shameless plug for Alfalfa. By the day my boys came home from the NICU, the lactation specialist looked at my pump record and said that I had somehow convinced my body that I had had 4 babies instead of 2. We are not lacking in milk over here. :))

Every evening, they would weigh the boys to make sure they were gaining weight and not burning too many calories.

When I wasn't feeding them, we were to let them get as deep of sleep as possible while still being loved on as much as possible. I liked the loving on them part.

We had to limit our visitors to 4, so we picked my parents and Cam's parents to be able to come in to the NICU with us. My dad got sick toward the end of the week though, so even he had to stay outside. They were very strict around these early babies. It was a good thing, but I think the first 2 days of the boys being considered "well babies" and being able to be held by anyone really spoiled me. Still, it was good to know the boys were being protected from as many germs as possible while they tried to get stronger.

My mom was a complete life saver during our time in the NICU. She came with me every morning (Cam went back to work so he could take a couple days off when the boys came home) and sat with me during feedings, loved on the boys, was willing to stay in the NICU Parents' Lounge overnight when we got kicked out of our hospital room (we chose to go home and get some rest instead...major breakdown involved), brought breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the hospital and coordinated meals with ward members. She listened to my freak outs and understood when the "hormones were talking" instead of me. I couldn't have made it through this time without her. The best thing she said? "They don't want to raise your children." Sometimes it's hard to remember that the doctors and nurses are not the bad guys, especially when they were the ones keeping me from bringing my boys home. Remembering the boys weren't going to be in there forever was hard sometimes. That sentence "They don't want to raise your children." brought me a lot of peace.

Once the boys got stronger, we got to do more for them. Change diapers, do baths, change monitors, take temperatures, etc. Our favorite bath time was with our nurse Kaye. She was so fun with our boys. Posing them, oohing over them, she was as excited as we were.

I started learning my boys' quirks more and more and learned so many tricks to help them wake up and focus on eating. Gray had a hard time remembering how to use his tongue, so we would practice with my pinky before eating every time. Nash hated being looked at while he ate, so he started putting his arm over his face. The next time he stalled out at 7 minutes and refused to eat any more, I put his arm over his face and he finished the feeding. He cracks me up. Gray has started to do the same. It makes me laugh that my boys "keep me modest."

Once they got 25% of their feedings down, we moved up to 50% of their feedings. Gray did great. Nash did not. And the nurse started talking to us about what to do if Nash couldn't keep up. They would have to send Gray home if he was ready. Cameron gave Nash a blessing to help him have the strength to eat and be able to come home with Gray. Nash didn't miss another feeding.

One morning, the doctor called to update me on their progress. (He usually came by before I arrived at the hospital.) He said "if both boys do all 8 feedings today, they can go home tomorrow." I was bound and determined to make that happen. I laid my head down next to my boys and gave them a pep talk. I let them know that if they did their very best today we could get rid of all the wires and tubes and could go home. No sooner had I stood back up that Nash ripped his feeding tube out of his face.

At the next feeding, Gray ate like such a maniac that the sounds made me laugh right out loud. I sent the following text to Cam:

"Gave the boys a pep talk. They're wrapped in OUR blankets, dressed in OUR clothes, Nash ripped his feeding tube out and Gray is eating like a maniac. We've all got our war guns blazin' today!"

next text:

"My mom is threatening to pull Gray's feeding tube out and making it look like an accident..."

Moms are the best. :)

We were bustin' out of the hospital! I was so done being there, my boys were so done being there, I know my mom was so done being there, though she'd never say so. The boys took 3 straight feedings beautifully. On the 4th feeding, Nash BARELY scraped by. And I was nervous. Between the 4th and 5th feeding, I needed to decide whether I was going to stay at the hospital that night to do the remaining feedings or if the nurse would just give them bottles of breastmilk. I desperately needed rest, but I really needed to know the nurse was going to give my boys a fair shot and not give up on them. We needed to be home! Cam and I went upstairs to pray about it and decided to wait and see how Nash did during the 5th feeding and let that determine if I stayed there or not.

Nash downed the 5th feeding like a champ.

I went home and got some great sleep.

The next morning, we got a phone call from our nurse, Paula. "The boys have been cleared and can go home whenever you get here!"

20 minutes later we were on our way.

The boys could wear pants for the first time because all their monitors were finally off and we had double the cheeks to kiss! So glad to have those feeding tubes out.


On the way home, we stopped at our chiropractor so everyone could get adjusted. It felt so great to lay on my stomach and feel balanced again! The boys did great, and I will say that since then they're eating and sleeping even better than they did. I'm sure being out of the hospital is playing a major factor here too, but I know the adjustment is largely responsible for that. At their follow-up appointment the next day, they had both gained over 3 oz.!

When we got home, we had a great feeding and cut the hospital bands off.

We're so glad to all be in the same place! It was 100% worth the wait, though. Our boys couldn't be doing better. We are just crazy about them.

Thank you for all your prayers and support (and yummy food!) during this time.

Also, Jerky Pediatrician, my boys were in the NICU for 9.5 days. Not 12. Put that on your chart.



  1. Okay... so the last picture cracks me up! It looks like the baby is so horrified that Daddy is cutting off his hospital band that he has to hide his eyes until it's done.

  2. P.S. My husband and I LOVE their Star Wars t-shirts. Did you make them?

  3. Kristin,
    This is a wonderful post! I'm so glad your boys are home and safe. You are so strong, and an excellent mother! I'm so happy for you!


  4. Loved finally seeing lots of pictures! You are a super momma and I can't wait to see them grow. :)

  5. I LOVE IT! Thank you so much for blogging pictures. I love the picture with Cameron and Nash looking up at him. AND I LOVE the pic right after Nash ripped out his feeding tube. So so great. I can't wait to see them!

  6. they're so cute!! Glad you're home :) It's been an adventure for sure, sounds like

  7. I did! I need to do a post on the cute little things I got to make for the boys. These were just quick heat transfers using the silhouette. Idea from Pinterest (so I can't claim creativity...ha) :)

  8. so, so sweet!Thanks for posting

  9. Sounds like the nicu was so stressful! What a strong woman you were to endure all that time! I'm so glad you are home now enjoying your little guys and all their cuteness!

  10. Love the star wars glad you all got to come home together, babies so cute, loved the comment on Gray eating like a maniac...Brigham as well has done that and it makes me laugh out loud. I love feedings, so sweet. :) Sorry you had to see them on feeding tubes, I'm sure it produced a few tears...would've in me. I'm glad that you can feed them now though! Dumb Pediatrician...maybe the nurses should tell him how many requests there are for him to never return!

  11. Oh my gosh, how happy and wonderful! Good job, boys! And good job Kristin and Cameron! Those boys are so handsome! I love that you gave them a pep talk, it sounds like they totally understood what you were telling them and were more than ready to do whatever it took go home with you guys!

  12. soooo glad you shared!!! love you sweet cheeks! can't wait to watch them grow. it just goes too fast!

  13. I'm honestly so impressed at your determination to breastfeed! It sounds exhausting (but worth it!), so mad props on that one. Congrats on the boys, they're ADORABLE!

  14. Congratulations Kristin! Liz sent me the link and I loved reading the posts. The babies are beautiful and I'm so glad you are all home and done with the tubes, and medicines.

    Sounds like breastfeeding is going well. Yeahhh! So good. Love the adjustment pictures!

  15. Oh, this takes me back! It sounds so much like our NICU story. You are awesome and your boys are beautiful. Way to stick with the pumping, it isn't easy but it is so worth it! Thank you for sharing your story and I'm so glad your boys are home :)