My husband and I were given the frightening statistics of a triplet pregnancy almost immediately. We knew that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) would most likely be part of our lives once the babies were born. Exactly six months to the day I found out I was pregnant, three oh-so-tiny babies were born. They were ten weeks early, and just like that, we became NICU parents. Our journey to expecting triplets had ended, but the real journey as parents was just beginning.
My babies were lucky to be cared for in the only level IIIC (highest available) NICU in the state of Indiana. St. Vincent Women’s Hospital’s NICU became Jase, Henley, and Sadie’s home away from home for 76, 108, and 103 days respectively. I spent most of my remaining four days after delivery as an in-patient, in the NICU. It became my home too. Having one child in the NICU can be daunting. Three babies? It was overwhelming.
YOU ARE THEIR PARENT
For me, one of the hardest things about our NICU journey was feeling like I was just a visitor and not their mother. All I wanted to do was to take my babies home and care for them as any new mother would. Peering at your babies through the incubator glass but not being able to touch (Henley couldn’t be touched for some time) or hold them was heartbreaking.
But you can take part in their care: change their diapers; hold them as often as possible; participate in Kangaroo Care, help give them baths, weigh and measure them, and help tube feed them or give them their bottles. I brought special items from home such as pajamas, blankets, and books to read to them. Just being able to bring their dirty clothes home to wash made me feel more like their mother.
IT CAN BE SCARY
I’m not going to lie. The NICU is a scary place. The sounds are what I remember the most. The beeps of the tiny heart monitors. The alarms warning nurses (and parents) that a little one had stopped breathing. The faint cries of babies in their isolettes. The silence is also scary.
Eventually, the sounds become just white noise leaving you to focus on what it important – getting your baby (or babies) out of there!
IT CAN BE STRESSFUL
Stress just becomes a part of your life when you’re a NICU parent. The anxiety and uncertainty can be overwhelming. You can’t eat or sleep, and some days you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. This is your new reality.
Be the best you can for your baby, and for yourself too. This means not spending all day, every day in the NICU. I would have given anything to be there 24/7, but living two hours from the hospital, we just couldn’t afford the commute every day. I assure you, being away from the NICU was an important part of surviving the journey.
With that being said, please know that:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
We started the NICU journey uneducated on what was to come. I read nothing about the NICU experience before having the triplets. I was too scared. We didn’t have a support group of parents who had babies in the NICU. All I wanted was someone I could talk to about what we were going through. Of course, I had friends and family I could share my worries and frustrations with, but they really couldn’t sympathize because they just didn’t know. My advice is to befriend other NICU parents. They know firsthand what you are experiencing. Don’t be shy about talking with the nurses, because they are the NICU experts.
THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Although our NICU stay was stressful, some good did come of our journey. We met wonderful nurses who cared for our babies like they were their own. Having to leave your child in the NICU is difficult, but when you know that they are in the best hands, it makes the separation easier. We are still in contact with several of our nurses today and love them like family. Because of our NICU journey, I began faithfully raising money for The March of Dimes March for Babies. Last year we had a record year, raising over $1200.
We survived. And you can too. Today, we are here with 3-year-old happy, healthy, and seriously crazy toddlers.
NICU moms, know this. Things do get better. My family is living testament to that.
Angela is the mother of 3-year-old BGG triplets Jase, Henley, and Sadie. She spends her days loving and sometimes loathing the experience of raising triplets. Her life is chaotic and she sometimes takes it for granted, but at the end of the day, she thanks God for all he has given me. Angela loves sharing her life with triplets – all the tears and tantrums and especially all love and laughter that comes with raising multiples! She blogs at The Triplet Farm, and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Check out more of Angela’s writing!