PREEMIE DIARIES | VOL. 1

ALLY'S STORY

ALLY'S STORY

I had no idea when I walked out the door to my 32 week appointment, that my life would forever be different within the coming hours. 

My routine checkup turned into a full blown crash c-section for the twins. I mentioned to my doctor that our Twin A wasn't moving quite as much, I thought it was typical for being this far along, and running out of room. My doctor ordered an ultrasound, and it was then we found out that our son had a heartbeat of 74 beats per minute. I was instantly filled with fear and decided to make the decision to get off of the ultrasound table and go to the hospital.  The ultrasound tech drove me to the hospital because I was just so scared.


Once I got there, they gave me a student nurse who couldn't locate a heartbeat for twin A at all. The next hour was almost a blur, but from the time that I had arrived to one hour on the clock, the twins had been born and I was waking up from my first c-section. I had already given birth naturally to 5 other children, so this was all new to me. During our time in the NICU, I came into contact with Goumi Kids, they reached out to me and asked if I would like a pair of their mitts! This product was very helpful for me because our twins were constantly pulling their feeding tube and oxygen tubes out. The mitts also prevented them from scratching their perfect little faces. That was a product we loved having because it made the nurses jobs so much easier and prevented the boys from being deprived of oxygen.

The twins were in the NICU for 38 days, the time there was quiet, it was almost soothing to me, having that very special one on one time with my twins that I probably wouldn't have gotten if they had come home as term babies. 

I hear so much negativity about the NICU and how it isn't a place that people want to be.. I wish someone had told me with a positive mind that the NICU is actually a great place for bonding time with your baby. Of course, in the beginning it is very scary, the uncertainty of everything, but when our twins reached the "feeder grower" status, I actually learned to enjoy the quiet, love the moments where the monitors weren't going off and the peace.

 By the time it was time to leave, I had made so many friends with other parents. I took other babies under my wing and watched over them when the parents couldn't be there, so I was sad to leave all of that behind. One of the best things about the NICU was that our twins came home with a feeding / sleeping / diapering schedule which they are still on today, even though they are one, the schedule works for us really well and has made parenting twins easy. When we came home from the NICU, I was a little bit worried about not having the monitors to rely on. But I remembered that I am a mother, and I was chosen to care for these little boys, I had done it before and all was going to be okay. 

If you or someone you know is currently in the NICU, I want you to know that there are support groups out there on facebook and online like instagram filled with people who can comfort you. Don't be afraid to make friends with some of the other parents at the hospital, they most likely need a friend just as much as you do! I know that once i started making friends, I felt so much better about our time in the NICU and it helped me to know that there were others going through the exact thing that I was. I also made friends on Instagram, I began talking about my story and our day at the NICU and from that, I met other mothers who were also in their own NICU across the world. We'd stay up all night chatting while holding our sweet babies, giving them that important skin to skin contact.

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One of the best moment throughout our NICU journey was being able to do my first twin cuddle 2 months after the girls were born. The NICU journey was so hard yet so rewarding when there was positive moments like these. Ive never felt love like the love I felt at this very moment finally holding my girls together in my arms.

- @growing_our_tribe

Time and Patience...I will never EVER forget these words that our Neonatologist told use the very first day we were thrust onto the NICU rollercoaster. At times I clung to these words and prayed feverishly over my baby assuring myself through the endless tears that he just needed a little more time and patience and that we would make it through. Other times I wanted to scream when time and patience were the only answer to outgrowing “the preemie problems” like learning how to breath...take a deep breath momma, because it will come. I know you are frustrated, beaten down, barley surviving and you feel like you will never make it through, but I PROMISE you will. This life you are living is only temporary, your baby will come home and your heart will feel whole again, YOU will feel whole again. It just takes a little time and patience.

- @shepards_nicu_journey

Before having the goumi preemie mitts, one of my twin boys was so wild and feisty, he had to be sedated and sometimes strapped down with cloths to contain his arms.  They put posey cuff cloth gloves on him. They kept coming off easily and weren't breathable. Being strapped down also hinders his development because he couldn't move his limbs around freely or open and close his hands! I am so glad we got some preemie mitts. He was then able to be unbundled and kick and punch freely without restraints, and we didnt have to fear he would pull off his CPAP or feeding tubes which he did frequently without the mitts. He loves the freedom.

- Michy Martin

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TOP QUESTIONS PREEMIE PARENTS ASK

Did you just find out you are having a preemie baby?  You are not alone!  Below we have asked many preemie parents just like you for the answers.

Q: Why was my baby born early?

A: Far and away this is the most frequently asked question. As is often the case with hard experiences in life, we all want to know why.

Sometimes it is a medical reason (like preeclampsia, high-blood pressure, or certain genetic conditions). Sometimes it is high risk factors (like smoking, being over or underweight before pregnancy, or exposure to pollutants or toxins). And sometimes it just happens.

One thing they do know is it’s not caused by worrying, normal arguing with your partner, air travel, bad food, tight clothes, or one of the many other myths that are floating around the internet.

Q: How can I help my baby thrive?

A: One of the best things that mamas reported making them feel helpful was pumping breast milk. If you are able to, try and keep your milk supply up with lots of water for a better flow as well as healthy snacks.  Breastfeeding and pumping can take a lot of calories so eating small meals or snacks in regular intervals can help.

If you are not able to pump, that is perfectly fine as well. there are other ways to help such as kangaroo care and skin to skin, talking or singing to your baby (even if you can’t touch them), and even just learning the most you can about your baby’s routine and conditions.

Another way you can help? Take care of yourself. Try to stick to a daily routine with showering, eating, and sleeping being key. Feeling human can help keep you calm and help you cope with stress.

Q: How can I keep my milk supply up?

A: As your lactation nurse will probably advise, it’s best to pump every 3 hours around the clock to keep supply levels up with a strong hospital-grade pump, along with getting plenty of water and good, nutritious food. Stress hormones also affect supply so taking care of yourself as much as possible is key (self-care for mama = care for baby).

There's also many supply enhancers on the market such as milk-boosting teas and cookies should you choose to try some more delicious options!

Q: When can my baby come home?

A: One of the most important questions and one that is always on the NICU parent’s mind, the answer can vary slightly from hospital to hospital. But most have overall similar milestone achievements before discharge:

• Sleeping in an open crib and able to maintain body temperature

• Hearing test administered to see if hearing loss is an issue

• Car seat challenge - being able to stay in a car seat with no breathing issues such as oxygen desaturation for an extended period of time

• Be able to eat all their food with ease

• Gaining adequate weight

• Breathing on their own (though some may require supplemental oxygen)

• No issues of apnea (pauses in breathing), bradycardia (slow heart rate), or change in color

Q: Yay - my preemie is coming home! How can I prepare?

A: One of the best ways (if possible), is to room in with your baby and learn what it takes to take care of them. You also should learn and practice with any medical equipment and medicine and make sure you have a pediatrician or medical provider on call should any issues arise.

You should also consider your home setup. Is baby going to be with you all night? Will they at least be on the same floor as you? Do you have all medicine clearly labeled and organized? If there is medical equipment, is your home’s electricity compatible with the output needed to properly run the equipment? Also, taking a CPR class in case of emergency can help you feel prepared.

Some hospitals will even offer NICU discharge classes that will go over basic baby care, safe sleep, and follow-up care for your baby.

Q: How do I deal with the emotional ups and downs of having a preemie in the NICU?

A: Try to stay connected with your partner, if you have one. Though you may react in different ways, you both want what is best for your tiny one. Take a breather out of the NICU and go grab coffee together or just take a walk and talk. Connection can be small, intimate moments that help you both bond and cope.

Another thing to do is establish self-care. This one seems like the last thing on your list but it’s important for your own stress and coping as well as helping with postpartum mood fluctuations. It can also help you feel more in control of your situation. So take any help that is offered, reach out to your support system, and stay in the present as much as possible!

If you find your feelings of sadness and hopelessness are overpowering you and are not going away, you may have postpartum depression or anxiety and need a bit more help. Talk to your healthcare provider or find out more here.

Q: What is the adjusted age vs actual age?

A: Actual age, or chronological age, is based on when your baby was born. This is best used calculating immunizations or doctor visits. Adjusted age is how old your baby would be according to his due date.

For example, if your baby was born 3 months premature, and at 4 months is measuring developmentally that of a 1 month old, he would be on track. As such, adjusted age is used for milestones and developmental progress.

Q: How do I transition to life after the NICU?

A: Try to have everything prepared before you arrive home. Enlist help to clean and run to the grocery store or watch other children. If your pocketbook allows it, hire a postpartum night doula to help you with late-night feeds and to establish a routine.

Also, make bonding with your little one a priority. It was likely hard to really connect with the stress and ups and downs of NICU life but now that your baby is home, take the time. Try an after-bath massage with gentle lotion and lots of skin to skin time. And of course, sing and talk to your baby - it helps relax both of you!

Finally, surround yourself with people who are supportive and help on your terms and avoid those who are critical and offer unsolicited advice. One of the best things friends and family can do is to reassure you that you are doing a great job and remember, you know your baby best. Trust your gut, mama.

Q: Where can I find more info on NICU and preemie conditions?

A: The amount of information and lingo in the NICU and preemie world can be dizzying. Click here to get an easy to follow list of common terms and conditions that can help keep you sane.

GOUMI PREEMIE PRODUCTS

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Proven to significantly reduce accidental extubation in the NICU

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A beautiful and unique collection designed to give your preemie a meaningful start

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