I could not believe it had been a week since the emergency delivery of my twins. I was numb from all the crying I did. It felt so unreal. I was warned about all the anxiety and roller coaster ride all new moms experience. But I was never schooled on what a NICU mom experiences.
I was dealt a multiple layered dose of complex motherhood:
– First time mom
– Mom of twins
– Mom of preemie twins
– NICU mom
I didn’t know anyone who had this much going on as a new mom. I knew that there are many other women who were in my shoes and in worse circumstances, but there wasn’t anyone in my circle of friends that I could go to who knew what it meant to be a NICU mom.
I never felt so cheated, blessed, helpless, lucky, inept or grateful all at the same time.
I felt that I, I should say we, as a family were cheated. Big time! We were robbed of so many experiences. Many women do not know how lucky they were to have given birth to healthy babies. I was robbed of the experience of bringing life into this world and bonding with them moments after their arrival. My children were taken from my womb via emergency c-sections at 31 weeks. They more than likely would have died had they not been delivered. They were neatly cut from my belly and whisked out of the room. We were severed and separated.
They were now a week old and I had yet to change a diaper, provide a feeding, comfort a cry or rock my babies to sleep. For me, there were no bottles to be given, no breastfeeding, no binkies, no diapers, no baby baths, no cuddling, no snuggling, no burping, no spit up to clean up, and no humming of lullabyes. I couldn’t even tell who they looked like, as I had yet to see their faces without any tubes, wires or eye masks. There was no real bonding with my children. There are 10,080 minutes in 7 days. I only got to hold one child for 20 of those 10,080 minutes.
My children didn’t know the comfort of a mother’s touch, they were poked, stabbed and prodded for IV lines, blood draws, blood stick testing and monitoring of heart and breathing. My son suffered the worst of the painful procedures. They did not fall alseep to the rythmic beating of my heart as they lay on my chest. Instead they fell asleep under ultarviolet lights and to the sounds of beeping machines and nurses bustling back and forth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We were cheated!
But, we were also blessed. We were blessed with the miracle of not one, but two babies. A boy and a girl! We were blessed with strong children who were determined to LIVE. We were blessed to be in a hospital that was equipped with state of the art medical technology and staffed with highly trained, professional doctors and nurses who were very skilled at going above and beyond the call of duty. Not only did they care for the babies, but they also cared and support for the parents as well.
We were blessed to have our own wonderful parents. They were so supportive and an essential part of our healing.
My mom was my chauffeur and constant NICU companion. She made sure to dry my tears, make me pump my breastmilk and eat, drink and rest. My mother-in-law was my personal chef and would send tons of food to make sure my mom and I wouldn’t have to eat hospital cafeteria food. Our combined families cheered us on, prayed with us and for us, and loved us.
But I still felt helpless for so many days and hours. There was nothing I could do to care for my children. I did not feel like a mom at all.
I was just there to observe. Cry. Pray. Be patient. And learn.