The following story is from Hand to Hold reader Shree. If you’d like to share your NICU story with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Your twins are off the CPAP,” said the nurse on the other end of the phone with lot of excitement in her voice.
I was only a day-old mom who was not sure how to react to the news. Pressing for details, I was told that though born at only 29 weeks, their lungs were doing okay. I heaved a sigh of relief, unaware of the tough days that were waiting for us ahead.
Though my twins were a day old, I had not seen them yet. They were rushed to the NICU as soon as they came into this world. Twin B was losing amniotic fluid very fast. We were very close to losing him. I was so eager to touch and feel the tiny babies.
I wobbled down to the first floor to see the little ones. That was the first day I stepped into the NICU world.
The NICU was not just a different world, but a different planet. The entire hall was filled with numerous incubators with tiny babies. The monitors beeped to the max. There were worried faces everywhere. That is the moment I felt that I had to gear up and face reality. This ride was not going to be easy.
My twins endured several challenges in the first three months of their lives. Sleep apnea was the scariest of all.
Apnea of prematurity is a condition in which premature babies stop breathing for 15-20 seconds while sleeping. It is as scary as it sounds. Preemies are closely monitored in the NICU for signs of apnea, and as they grow, they grow out of it. When the monitor beeps, the NICU nurses immediately check the baby for any signs of distress. Their timely assistance saves numerous lives. As parents, we could do nothing but just watch the NICU nurses come to the rescue of our little one.
My older twin was the most affected by sleep apnea. The nurse would report to us that he stopped breathing couple of times at night. Initially we would get all rattled, but as the days passed by, it became an on-and-off incident. We got used to it. It dwindled off after a few days.
The doctors and the nurses comforted us repeatedly that our twins would be fine. We wanted to believe that, but could not till they were home.
I am sure there are lot of new moms out there whose preemies are going through a similar situation at the NICU. But miracles do happen. I can see my 6-year-old twin miracles jumping up and down the sofa driving me crazy as I am penning down this article reminding me that yes they are absolutely fine!
Correction: The first version of this article mistakingly said the Mahalakshmi twins were born at 19 weeks instead of 29 weeks. The gestation has been corrected.