Monday, November 5, 2012
A Little Stronger Every Day
I cannot believe that three weeks have passed since I had Ava and Aubrey! Time certainly has flown by, but overall through this whole experience it went fast. My babies have done exceptionally well and have exceeded my expectations! I was more worried about NICU complications than anything I had to worry about, and their stay has been picture perfect. I almost want to pinch myself. After a week, they came off of their oxygen and IV's and this week they "graduated" into the annex, a room outside of the NICU that is for babies who are just feeding and growing! They began taking bottles and Aubrey came off of her feeding tube - that yucky old thing that goes down their little noses into their bellies that they pull out constantly and have to get put back in. Seeing her precious little face with not a single thing on it was so awesome!!! Ava needs to do a better job finishing her bottles and then she will be able to come off of hers too.
Tonight was our first attempt at breastfeeding. I have been pumping milk and taking it to them for their bottles since they were born, but a baby is not capable of suck/breathe/swallow until 34 weeks at the earliest and they had to get some bottles first. With my older girls, breastfeeding was very challenging for me at first so I was kind of nervous about breastfeeding the twins. First up was Ava, and she latched right on like a pro and nursed like a little champ! Next it was Aubrey's turn and she too sucked away like she's done it all her little life. It was such an incredible moment and feeling, to be nourishing my babies and watch them succeed yet again! To look down at them and feel them feeding from me instead of a plastic pump was so rewarding and satisfying!
I have kind of had this weird feeling since I had them that I am still pregnant or something because I am still waiting for them in a way - waiting for them to come home. When I visit them sometimes it feels like they are not mine yet, and in some ways they aren't because I have to leave them. I only get to be with them an hour or two a day and someone tells me what I can and cannot do. I feel like I am still waiting to "have my babies". Nursing them tonight, I felt like they were MINE. I could see them coming home for real. I could imagine those middle of the night cries that only I can quiet. I love that they have their mommy. Everything in the NICU is so sterile and plastic and medical - including the gloved hand that usually feeds them from a plastic bottle. To see them snuggled in my arms, against my skin, nursing felt like heaven to me and I know to them it did too! And the best part is we are just DAYS away from them really being 100% all mine :)
The doctor tonight told me that the twins have soared through and will go home in the next week, with Aubrey potentially going home in just days!! We have to first get training sessions on CPR and the monitors that they will need to go home on. These monitors are attached to cords that stick onto their bellies to alert us if their heart rates or oxygenation go dangerously low. It will be just a bit of an inconvenience, but very welcome in my opinion because I will not worry as much if they are ok. The babies also have to pass the carseat test, where they have to sit for 90 minutes in their carseats without having "events" with their breathing or heartrates. Once Ava takes her bottles better and gets her feeding tube out she can come home too! It was so weird having babies and coming home from the hospital empty handed. To fold their tiny wash and put it away but have them not here. I am SOOOO excited they are coming home! No more never seeing my husband because when he gets home from work I go into NICU. Our whole family will be together for the holidays. That is the only gift I need!
Another exciting thing happened this week with the babies' move into the NICU annex. Unlike the regular NICU, there is a window in the Annex, and Emma and Abigail FINALLY got to see their baby twin sisters! We have all waited for this moment and I didn't think they would get to see their sisters until they came home. I knew Emma was excited but Abigail usually cries out of jealousy when she sees me holding other babies so I wasn't sure how she would respond. As soon as the curtain opened, just inches and some glass between the four girls, Abby and Emma had immediate giant smiles and twinkling eyes as they stared at their baby sisters. I could lightly hear them through the glass and they were singing twinkle twinkle little star to the babies, Abby repeating after Emma. I heard Emma say, "Aren't you babies just so blessed to have a wonderful big sister like me?". Then later at night Abby said a couple of times, "I saw baby Ava today!". Emma and Abigail are little buddies these days and it just melts my heart! They say the cutest things to each other and I am really glad they have each other. I like this even number amount of kids thing - everyone has someone :)
Listening to the nurses talk tonight, they were saying how the babies in the Annex are all doing so well and that it is not the case in the regular NICU, there are a lot of babies who are not doing so well. My heart breaks for those mothers and babies, and I feel so very blessed my babies are doing well.
Driving home the other night, even though I am always so sad to leave my babies, I felt such a peace that everything in my life is perfectly in place and all is as it should be. My drive is about 35 minutes, and I love where I live. I love watching city turn to country with my country music playing. I love my small town, even if in high school we called it "the potpie curtain". I love that there is only one stoplight in the whole town, that the grocery store is the smallest of any I know around, and that it is surrounded by fields. I love that my kids will go to school where I did and that the man in the hardware store knows me by name. I love that this is where God put us to raise our 4 daughters. At the beginning of all this when we were told these babies were boys, I thought that 2 girls and 2 boys was the perfect family, but now I think these 4 girls are the perfect family. Being home with my big girls has been so fun too. We trick or treated twice and have kept busy with crafts, books, snuggles, and movies. I am so thankful to be out of the hospital for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas!
I sing to the babies when I am in there, usually Twinkle Twinkle, You are My Sunshine, and Jesus Loves Me among others. The first week I could only hum because for some reason when I would sing I would start to cry. Now I can sing, and actually finish a song. When I was singing Jesus Loves Me to them the other day, "they are weak but He is strong" stuck out like a sore thumb among the lyrics of all the songs I was singing. So true. My babies are the tiniest, frailest, weakest and most vulnerable human beings right now. Weaker than they will ever be in their whole lives probably. But their God, my God, your God - He is so strong. Stronger than anything this world can bring. Because He is strong, I was able to be strong throughout my pregnancy and hospital stay. My strength is derived from Him alone and I am so grateful to have had my faith through all of this. He is strong, and my babies are in His care, in His will. My babies are showered with prayer from hundreds of amazing and caring people. They are weak, but He is strong. How amazing. And they get less weak and more strong every day.