After almost two weeks in the hospital which saw my older twins dependent on oxygen for more than half the time, not to mention spending quite a lot of time in the incubator, you can very well imagine how I felt when the paediatrician said we could go home.
On one hand, I was very happy that I could go home and get out of the hospital environment. My mom was too. Left to her, we would have been home a long time ago, as she kept saying, there was nothing wrong with the twins. Even though, she spent many moments looking at them in the neonatal unit where they spent most of their early lives, I still don’t understand how she knew they were fine.
And on the other hand, I was filled with trepidation. What if something went wrong? What if they stopped breathing at home, where we didn’t have oxygen to resuscitate them? How was I going to be able to make sure my son especially didn’t overfeed too much and block the flow of air? This was a boy, whose feeding were timed and breast milk was injected into the tube passed through his nose to his stomach in milligrams. True, we had had some test runs in the clinic, the nurses and paediatrician had monitored how he and his sister were but I was still so afraid for them and they were so tiny. I didn’t want to hurt them in any way but we were being sent home and home we went.
So, how did we fare? Hmmm, I will just put it this way, they are nine years old now and doing fine, so we did fine. It was rough but they were rarely sick as babies, which I often blamed on the fact that their tiny bodies were hit with massive dosages of medications upon arrival on planet earth, and perhaps that boosted their immune systems. I bless God that it ended in praise.
Going home from the hospital has loads of benefits even though, that moment is often met with doubt and I wasn’t the only doubting Mrs Thomas.
One of those benefits that Ayoola found out was that, it drastically decreased her son’s chance of catching an infection. Her son had been born at 30 weeks and they spent what seemed an eternity in the hospital. The baby was on oxygen in the neonatal unit with all sorts of tubes attached to him when he was christened on the 8th day. Thanks to technology, Ayoola and her husband showed his pictures to their family and Pastor, who had come to name the child.
As the weeks rolled by, his lungs became stronger and the doctors wanted to discharge him but Ayoola was quite apprehensive about that and kept urging the doctors to take another look at him and as they did, they found something they wanted to treat.
That was how a month’s stay in the clinic turned two until a nurse strongly advised her to take her son home, as he was a healthy boy now, who is just getting some of the infections that was invariably in the air in the hospital.
As soon as Ayoola heard that, it scared her and made her ask her son’s primary doctor, when they could go home and he said, right away. That was too soon for Ayoola, as she needed to get her house sorted for her son, so she used the hours between that afternoon and the next morning to get her house sorted and took her son home.
Finally, they were in a space, she could control her son’s risk of infection. You bet, to touch her son, you had to wash your hands, or at least use a hand sanitiser and she had those handy. No offence but she wasn’t going to take any chance of people passing on an infection to her son.
Another thing that worries neonatal parents is feeding the baby; whether it is breastfeeding or formular feeding. In the hospital, most times, you have the nurses at hand, taking care of the feeding, measuring the precise amount and feeding baby at specific intervals.
But at home, you are on your own literally. Even with all the test runs while we were at the hospital, I was overwhelmed when we got home and the tiny people all of a sudden developed a mind of their own. They literally threw all the routine; we had at the hospital out the window. I was the one following their lead, trying to breastfeed two babies at the same time, being careful that their nostrils were not blocked, ensure that my son wasn’t guzzling the stuff, as though it was going out of fashion, burping them afterwards (please don’t ask why ☺), let’s just say, real life was way different from what it was like in the hospital. It’s a lot harder having to be the mom, nurse, doctor and everything else in between.
Bonding is something preemie parents worry about too. It is often encouraged that newborns be placed on their mother for that essential skin-to-skin connection vital for the early development of the babies. When you have a preemie, you really don’t have that opportunity, because one moment, you are being asked, the gender of your baby and the next they are trying to get them the paediatric care they need. You might not get to hold your baby until hours later if you are lucky, sometimes, you can only just touch. I didn’t see my twins, until the next morning which was a Sunday and didn’t carry them until Monday evening. While we were in the hospital, I can count the number of times, I carried them, so every time, I did, it was a marvel, I would look at the downy hairs on their bodies, the little buds of their mouths and how they moved their little fingers, as though doing shakara. We bonded in those moments.
Well, when I was told, we were going home, I was wondering how I will bond with both of them and carry them, having not done so frequently in the early days of their lives. Again, those doubts receded, as we bonded amazingly well upon reaching home. They loved me anyways and wanted to always stay in my arms. So, we were fine
Going home with a preemie baby is a rollercoaster of emotions, one moment, you are deliriously happy to be going home with your baby (ies) and the next minute, you are wondering, “How am I going to survive?”
Well, I can tell you for free, you will survive just fine. And baby (ies) will be fine too.
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