Our twins Milo and Violet were immediately taken to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) when they were born at 27 weeks. If you haven't read the birth story yet, click here to read it. I've never been to a NICU and really didn't know much about what to expect. Today's post is all about our first 3 weeks in the NICU.
For the first 3 days of the twins lives they were in the NICU in one hospital and I was recovering from my c-section in another hospital, which was where I delivered them. The hospital I delivered at is only able to take babies in the NICU at 32 weeks, so that's why they were in a different hospital.
Adam spent those first couple of days going back and forth between both hospitals to visit the babies and to stay with me. I loved when Adam would go to the NICU because we would FaceTime and that was my only way to see the babies. I was very anxious to get out of the hospital as soon as I could to go see the babies!
Holding Violet for the first time
The babies have not had any major problems so far, and we are very grateful for that. They lost a lot of weight in that first week, which is to be expected. They started gaining it back the next week though. The goal in the NICU is for the babies to be back at their birth weight after 2 weeks. Violet hit her birth weight right on the 2 week mark and Milo hit his the day after.
The babies were on ventilators for breathing at first. Milo was taken off of this the day after he was born and put on oxygen instead. Violet was able to do the same after 4 days.
Adam holding Milo for the first time. He sleeps so well when we hold him!
They both had jaundice and Violet had a lot of bruising from birth, so both babies needed to do light therapy for this. Milo only had to do about 2 days, but Violet did about 4 days.
Violet was able to open her eyes right away after being born. Milo's eyes were fused shut when he was born though. He was able to open one after a couple of days and the second after a week. The babies love to open their eyes and look at us when we talk to them. It's super cute!
They both had to get picc line IVs, which was scary for us. It's an IV that was in the leg and went up to their hearts. They had to get this because their umbilical IVs didn't last very long. Thankfully, they only needed the picc lines for a few days, then they were able to have them removed.
Milo chewing his fingers. His umbilical cord just came off!
Milo and Violet have both been experiencing bradycardia for about 2 weeks now. This is where they forget to breathe for a little bit and their heart rate drops a lot. At first when this was happening, their nurse would have to stimulate them a little by putting her hand on them. This would remind them to breathe.
Now when they have bradycardia they're able to come out of it on their own without being stimulated. Milo is only having 1 or 2 a day and Violet is having about 5 a day. Hopefully these go away soon.
They've had a little bit of a hard time tolerating their feedings. They were getting a lot of emesis, which is where they throw up. They have feeding tubes and sometimes the feeding tubes gag them a little and cause emesis. This is all very normal for preemie babies. To help with it, they spread their feedings out over a period of 2 hours. This has been decreasing their emesis a lot and has helped them gain more weight.
Me holding Milo. I love his little hand on my chest.
Once the babies were in the NICU for a week and a day, we were able to start holding them. We absolutely love holding them and bonding with them! We're able to hold them once a day right now. Later we'll be able to hold them more, but it's just too much for them to come out of their incubators right now. When we hold them we do it for at least an hour and sometimes we hold them for up to 2.5 hours.
We do skin to skin with the babies. This has a lot of benefits for them. It really helps them regulate their temperatures, which allows them to use their energy to digest food and focus on growing.
Holding them is amazing. It is so fun for us to spend time with our babies and see their personalities more. We switch off who holds which baby everyday. Since we have twins it's really nice that we each get to hold a baby everyday.
Adam holding little Violet.
The nurses told us that somewhat soon we'll be able to take turns holding both babies at the same time. We're very excited, but nervous for this. It will be so much fun to have the twins together since they haven't been since I was pregnant with them. Their incubators are next to each other, but still about 8 feet apart. We're nervous for this though because the babies are still so little and holding them is kind of scary.
I've been pumping breast milk since the day I gave birth. Every time that we go to the NICU we take what I've pumped with us and they feed it to Milo and Violet. Some days I'm able to pump a lot and other days it's not very much.
The NICU has lactation specialists that I meet with. One of them has been really helpful. Last weekend I was very stressed out and my milk supply dropped like crazy. This lactation specialist was able to give me some good tips to help.
I had a few milk blisters and she told me to apply a hot, wet paper towel to them right before pumping. All of my milk blisters cleared up pretty quickly after this. She also suggested that I do some power pumping. This is where you pump for 10 minutes, stop for 10 minutes, pump for 10, stop for 10, and pump for 10 more. This replaces one of your pumping sessions for the day. I've done this twice now and I plan to do one more day of it for now.
They told me that in about 2-3 weeks we'll start working on getting the babies to latch and breastfeed. At first they'll have me pump to empty my breasts and we'll work on just getting the babies to latch and be familiar with nipples. After that, we'll slowly start working on breastfeeding, then bottle feeding.
We think this pineapple swaddle blanket is so cute on Violet!
Another thing we have to look forward to is that the babies will start getting baths in a little tub soon. Right now they can only get sponge baths because their skin is so tender and delicate.
The NICU life is crazy, stressful, fun, scary, emotional, and exciting all at the same time. We'll most likely be there for about another 2 months. We're not trying to rush it because we know that the NICU is where the babies need to be. We are already looking forward to the day that we can bring them home though!
We documented our entire NICU journey in this video: