The babies were born on a Wednesday and finally five days later I was able to get to hold them. Early on I had asked when I would be able to hold them and the answer I got discouraged me so I didn't ask again; part of me didn't want to know how long it was going to be. I will never forget the nurse that day, Tammy. She was working on Kate, setting up her feeds, checking her vitals and then she looked at me and said, "will you be holding her today?" When she said that my eyes welled up and I just started crying and nodding yes, yes I wanted to hold her today. I will never forget the kindness of that nurse that took the time for me to hold Kate and later that day Andrew. It was no easy task, you didn't just pick up a baby there and the nurses were so busy and always working so hard. It seriously probably took a solid 15-20 minutes from the start to having her settled with me. Monitors had to be moved, the isolate adjusted, tubes and wires and iv's were all tangled up and you had to be super careful not to pull anything out. The nurse wanted me to do kangaroo care which is essentially when they tuck the baby under your shirt while you do skin to skin. The amazing thing is that in our case the babies did not have the ability to regulate their body temperature which is one reason they had to be in the isolate which was very warm. However while doing kangaroo care the baby is warmed by your skin and is able to maintain their temperature. After Tammy finally got Kate out of the isolate she put her up my shirt (which I admit was a little different but I was just thrilled for the opportunity and after that I tried to wear button down shirts to make it easier!) and wrapped my shirt in an additional blanket, pulled the curtains and dimmed the lights to try to give us a little privacy. My mother in law was there that morning with me and snapped some pictures and then tactfully excused herself to visit with Andrew to thoughtfully give me alone time with Kate. Seeing the babies in their isolates made them look small. Holding them on my chest made them seem impossibly tiny, inexplicably light, so different than a regular baby. At this point both were smaller than their birth weight and it was unbelievable how teeny tiny they were. I remember stretching out my hand and I could reach from the top of her neck all the way down to below her bottom, that's how small she was, she literally fit in my hand. Even now on days when I sit and rock Kate I stretch my hand out and marvel at how big she has become and how small she was. As I sat there that day in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit I remember closing my eyes as tears ran down and thinking, "I will never ever remember how tiny this child is, how light she feels, how frail and fragile she is at this moment. Time will make those memories fade. However I will never ever forget what it feels like to hold her for the first time." So many emotions. Holding a baby that shouldn't even be born for 11 more weeks. Fear of the unknown, what would the future look like for these children? What obstacles were waiting for us? But also joy, immense joy and gratitude. That she was here and she was alive and in my arms. My daughter, Katherine Grace. Any parent knows that one of the worst things is to see your child in pain or to suffer Seeing them those first five days and being able to do nothing more than stroke their leg or hold a finger and then to finally get to feel like a mother again, to hold and connect with and comfort my child- hands down one of the greatest days of my life!
|And later that day sweet Andrew|