Cafe Brigitte

A place for stay at home moms to talk over coffee

NICU Tips for Parents of Preemies July 29, 2009

Filed under: Parenting,Preemies - Premature Babies,Twins/Multiples — Cafe Brigitte @ 1:48 am
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In the last eight years, a lot of moms have asked me how I got through the long weeks in the NICU when my twins were born (see their story here). So, I thought I would share some tips with all of you.

Our NICU did not allow parents to stay over night until the baby’s last day or two, so my husband and I had to leave every evening. While it was very hard to do, it probably was the best thing for our overall mental and physical well being. I was able to get a good night sleep (between sessions with the breast pump) and clear my head. My first tip for NICU survival is to take time everyday to leave the NICU, breathe fresh air, and live a “normal” life for a few hours. It actually helped to alleviate the sense of helplessness I had those first few weeks when the girls were too little to hold.

The second tip is to leave a disposable and an instant (Polaroid, if they are still around) camera at the baby’s bedside. With the disposable cameras we took pictures of all the milestones that took place in the NICU. The nurses will use the cameras when you aren’t there in order to document events for you too. I have a great story about pictures I got from our cameras, but I will save those for another time.

The instant camera is great for the nurses to take pictures of fun things that take place while you are away. It also allowed us to bring pictures home to share with friends same day, but digital cameras are better for that these days.

My third tip is to accept the offers of help and meals from friends. I was too hasty sometimes to turn down the offers. But a meal in the freezer after a long (and sometimes bad) day in the NICU is really what we needed. If someone offers to clean for you, let them! Doing mundane tasks helps take your mind off that sweet baby in the NICU, but coming home to a clean kitchen is a relief most days.

Fourth, find a support network. Since no one I knew had a preemie, I found an online support group at The ladies who frequent that board have either gone through the same thing or are going through it. When you baby is preemie, sick, etc. you can feel alone. Everyone around you seems to be having the perfect pregnancy or has a perfect baby in her arms. Finding a group that helps you to feel supported and understood is critical.

There are more things I could share, but I will hold stop here for now. My twins were very premature, but they did not have very many complications while they were in the hospital. We were very fortunate that all the girls really needed to do was grow, but not everyone is that lucky. Every NICU situation is different and so are the parents involved. So basically you need to take your days in with your NICU baby day by day and make sure you are taking care of yourself in the process.


The Trouble with Twins July 12, 2009

Filed under: Parenting,Twins/Multiples — Cafe Brigitte @ 2:27 am
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People often ask me how I coped having twins. They say they can’t imagine taking care of two babies at once. My response is always the same…I didn’t know any different, so it didn’t seem that bad. In fact, I found the first year or two to be pretty easy, after the girls came home from the NICU, that is.

Since my twins were preemies and we lived in New England, we had to be particularly careful about RSV. So, we did not go out and about much. When the girls came home, I kept pretty much to the schedule they had in the NICU. That coupled with the need to stay home kept my days predictable and I was able to nap when ever I felt the need and I got to most of the household chores in a timely manner. My mother visited quarterly and I had some good friends who would help out when I really needed it.

It also helped that my twins were relatively good babies. They cried when they had reason to, but it was usually easily solved. Don’t get me wrong; they were not perfect. One twin had serious separation anxiety every time the baby books said it could happen at a particular age. (She seems to suffer from it still on some occasions. :P) The other twin would go on what I thought were hunger strikes, but the pediatrician said she was just snacking and to go back to our regular schedule – which worked.

My girls are built-in playmates for each other. I never had to call a friend over for a play date.

Until recently, having twins has been very manageable for me and has made life a bit easier. The trouble only began this year. Their interests and their strengths have started to diverge a bit. One rides horses and the other is a ballerina. They encourage and support each other in their separate activities, which is great.

The problem comes in when they are in the same activity or with school work. The success of one is viewed as a personal failure by the other when the outcomes are not the same. For example, they finished swimming lessons last night. One “completed” Level 2 and the other did not. Congratulating the one causes the other to feel like she failed. Yet, you don’t want to not congratulate the twin who moved up to the next level. Ugh.

Of course, next week the shoe will be on the other foot. The “non-swimmer” will do better in something than the “swimmer.” The one who does not do as well will mope despite my reminding her that she did better in swimming than her twin did. Each will have things that she is better at and things that she does not do as well. It all balances out, right?! Try and explain that to an 8 year old.


It’s hard to believe it has been 8 years already July 1, 2009

Filed under: Parenting,Twins/Multiples — Cafe Brigitte @ 2:11 am
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Eight years ago today (June 30th) my husband was watching Animal House on the TV in the labor and delivery room with my ob. while I let the pitocin do its thing. It was a rather scary night, since my twins were due September 26th, twelve weeks later, but we seemed to be handling it pretty well.

Nothing about that pregnancy went according to plan. But, I won’t bore you with the details here.

At 1:49 and 1:59 am on July 1st, 2001, my twin girls were born. That was 8 years ago. I can’t believe how the time has flown. My babies aren’t babies anymore. Heck, they are barely little girls anymore. The good news is while they are getting older, I’m not. 😀

Here they are on July 1st, 2001

And, here they are 8 years later: