It’s been nine days since the girls were born but it feels like several lifetimes. Physically I’m feeling well, considering five weeks of bedrest followed by the c-section surgery. But emotionally, I’m still reeling from the girls’ sudden and traumatic birth.
T and I run back and forth to the hospital, trying to be there for all the c-Pap changes (the one time a day we can see their sweet faces under all the headgear that helps them breathe) and trying to fit in all the “Kangaroo Care” snuggle time that we can get.
Then we come home, and it seems surreal that life goes on despite the fact that we have two daughters at the hospital. Sometimes I still put my hands on my tummy, forgetting that my babies now are doing their kicking and growing at the hospital three miles across town.
Big sister E visits them too, bringing books to read to them and making up little songs about Sylvia and Carina. She tells me she wants them to come home, and I blink back tears and tell her that I want them to come home too, but they have to get bigger and stronger first.
Often we see other families leaving the hospital with their newborns, loaded down with balloons and flowers. I’m jealous of them- and I’m sad for Sylvie and Carina that their arrival wasn’t heralded with pure joyful congratulations and balloons, but instead with fear and worry from those who love them best. It took us a week before we even started telling friends and family (other than our parents) that they had arrived.
But I can’t feel sorry for myself or for them for too long when I see the determination of my daughters to keep breathing and growing. Every day I’m inspired by their strength. Watching their feisty little spirits as they kick and pull on their CPAP masks, putting up a fight when they want to make their voices heard.
And despite “Dr. Doom’s” prognosis on their second day of life, both girls continue to make steady progress. Sylvie came off oxygen first, just a few days after birth. Carina needed the ventilator for the first day, but then graduated to the CPAP (which is less invasive and just applies a gentle pressure to help them inflate their lungs). She was soon off the supplemental oxygen too. The doctors had talked about taking Sylvie off the CPAP this week, but decided to bump her back up to a 5 instead of 4 and give her more time to focus on growing and gaining weight instead of working too hard to breathe.
Both girls are tolerating their feedings well (breastmilk by feeding tube along with an IV for supplemental lipids and nutrition) and are almost back to their birth weights.
So all good news so far, which is a rare thing on the NICU rollercoaster, and especially given Carina’s scary start which I try not to dwell on.
Last time I posted, I promised pictures. Here are the girls at one week old, without all their CPAP breathing gear. Both are less than three pounds. Though tiny, they are such bundles of strength, sweetness and determination.
Thank you all for your positive thoughts, wishes and prayers over the past month and a half. You have helped me find strength I didn’t think I had when I needed it most. I’ll continue to keep you updated about the girls you’ve helped so much- at least until they are safely home.