These monitors were sent home with them from NICU discharge, and their purpose was to save their lives in the event of apnea or bradycardia spells. Without them, the babies would have had to stay in the NICU much longer. If they stopped breathing, the apnea alarm beeped and if their heartrate went too high or low it also beeped. When I say "beep", what I mean is as-obnoxiously-loud-as-a-smoke-detector and doesn't shut off till you shut it off SIREN that the neighbors 3 houses down could hear! At first this happened more often, and then as they grew it happened less. The first night home on them, it went off about every 5 minutes because we couldn't quite figure out that we had the leads plugged in wrong! Every 5 weeks the neonatologist reviewed the download of monitor activity and every 5 weeks I was so hopeful that they would be done, because no "events" would have shown. But for all these months the girls kept having a couple events - scary, and made me grateful for the monitors! Now, finally, no true events! My girls are regular breathers!
So while I was so so grateful to have these monitors, and I could sleep better knowing if my babies stopped breathing I would be immediately alerted, I will explain why it is such a relief to be done with them. (And why I may or may not have fantasized about taking a bat, piñata style, to these suckers on more than one - er, a billion - occasions)...
As you know, Ava and Aubrey are momo's, who were at such risk of death in utero because of their umbilical cords tangling and knotting. Well, the monitors with their cord twists and tangles created a whole new level of frustration and complication to the already challenging life with newborn twins and two other kiddos. Each monitor is about the size of a DVD player. It plugs into the wall; that's one cord per monitor. Then, there is a cord from the monitor into the leads. That makes 2 cords. Then, there are 2 leads that attach into electrodes that velcrow into a chest strap that goes around each babies' torso. That makes 4 cords per baby, 8 cords total. So whenever you take the babies say, from the bedroom to the living room, or go to the doctor or wherever, you not only carry the babies, but you lug along 2 DVD player size monitors in purses along with the 8 wires that inevitably twist, tangle, knot, and rip out, causing the blaringly loud siren to alert. Try this in the middle of the night during feeds. And if you picture me waking up in the morning and simply carrying two babies out with me, not the case! These monitors probably caused me to use curse words more than ever in my life before! I was like spiderman trying to crawl among the cords trying to quietly untangle them in order to put a baby down without waking them.
Whenever we needed to go anywhere, the monitors had to come along too, and the batteries only lasted about 3 hours. The electrodes being constantly against the babies' skin caused pussing blistered rashes that nothing could be done about because they had to wear these. We couldn't apply any kind of lotion or anything to soothe the rash because nothing at all could be between the skin and the electrode. Every time we held the babies we had to be careful not to move the chest strap or the electrodes would get misplaced and the siren would alert. Bath time was extra special for us, because we got to take off the chest straps and electrodes, their skin got to breathe, and we got to just hold a plain old baby, cord free, strap free. To look at and feel your baby with no barrier between you and them is just soooo yummy! :)
I will admit, quite shamefully, that after the first 3 months or so, we started taking them off of the monitors while they were awake and just leaving the chest strap/electrode/leads on them but not lugging the monitors around...it just became almost impossible. If we didn't have 2 other kids to care for, it would have been simpler to just lug all the monitor stuff to one room, plug it in, and stay put for the day. Not possible with 2 other kids to care for. Awake, we could obviously see if they weren't breathing and they hadn't seemed to have events lately. We would hook them back up at night, during naps, and if we drove somewhere.
I could ramble on and on about how inconvenient and annoying these things were, but in the end, I am thankful for them. I will worry at night now that I don't have the assurance of them. But I am SOOOOOO excited to hold my babies and pat THEIR BACKS, feel their skin, not pat and feel a thick strap! To not have to try not to trip over wires constantly! To not have to "plug them in" and "unplug them" constantly! To not have to always exist near an electrical outlet with 2 available plugs! For my babies rashes to heal! The end of any preemie evidence! A huge milestone :)
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty! They are free at last!!!! :)