The following story is from Hand to Hold reader Kevin. If you’d like to share your NICU story with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been four years since I became a father. I remember it like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget sitting between their two incubators in the level 3 NICU. I looked at my newborn sons, with tubes in their tiny arms and oxygen being pumped into their little noses, and wanted nothing more in the world than to bring two healthy boys home.
My wife spent seven days in the hospital. I had already quit my job in preparation for my upcoming role as a stay-at-home father, so I was lucky enough to stay with her. I bunked up on the pull-out chair next to her bed. Every three hours I woke up to our cell-phone alarms and waited as my wife pumped. Then I would deliver it to the NICU nurses, sometimes in stocking feet. Other than for a brief drugged-up second in the OR after she gave birth, it was over twenty-four hours before my wife would be able to even see our little ones.
Little is an understatement. They were more than little. They were tiny. Not as small as some (5 lb, 4 oz and 3 lb, 13 oz), but still a lot smaller than I thought they would be when I day-dreamed of the two of us holding them for the first time. What did I know? The only images of babies I had to go by were the ones I saw on television. You know the type… eight pounds, full head of hair, and never cried.
My thoughts of my infants went from dream to reality when they decided to show up five weeks early, and I’ll admit it, I was scared. Not scared of raising the Double Trouble Team, as I call them now. I was scared that maybe one of them wouldn’t make it home. I’m not and have never been very religious, but there were a couple of times I made a pit stop at the chapel on my way back to my wife’s room. After breaking down and crying my eyes out, I prayed. All I asked is that if we couldn’t bring two healthy sons home with us, then I needed some help dealing with and accepting it.
After two weeks of observation, twin #1 came home. It was another six weeks of my wife and I taking turns visiting twin #2 in the NICU for feedings before he was finally released and our family was then complete.
It’s been a wild ride ever since. I’ve spent this moment, and many moments like it, reflecting. The twin who was at one time the smaller of the two? The one that I shed so many tears over many months ago? He crawled first. He walked first. He’s now barely four, and is reading three- and four-letter words. He is non-stop energy and stands about two inches taller than his brother.
It was a difficult time, but one I honestly wouldn’t trade for anything. The day I cried for my sons was the day that it really hit me. I was a dad. I had met my sons only a couple days before, and already I loved them more than anything on this earth.
Everyone has defining moments in their lives. This was one of mine. It showed me how strong my sons were. It showed me how strong my amazing wife was.
Most importantly, it showed me how strong I was, as a father.
Kevin is a freelance writer and the stay-at-home father of twin toddlers. He admits that it’s the hardest and most rewarding position he’s ever held. He, his very patient wife, and his rambunctious boys live in Henderson, Nevada. When he’s not telling his sons not to ride the dog or trying to figure out how toast ended up under the couch, he
can be found on his blog, Double Trouble Daddy. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.