i feel extraordinarily blessed these days.
after a really (really!) scary/tough/uncertain pregnancy, my sister safely delivered twin girls on december 30th. they were born early as we knew they would be, but not as early as they could've been. things are going much better than the doctors expected- but have you ever seen a 3lb. baby in real life? up until last week, i hadn't. t-i-n-y. full term newborns look like giants to me now. :) as these are my first nieces or nephews, i am absolutely over the moon smitten, and even if they were my 15th niece or nephew, i have a feeling i'd be in exactly the same smitten space. let me show you why.
i don't know about you, but prior to this none of my friends or family members had given birth to multiples, and i'd never witnessed firsthand what it's like to have your newborn in the NICU. the best way i could think of to describe it is to imagine that you give birth to a baby (or babies) and immediately put them on the bus for boarding-school kindergarten. this is not exactly how ANY new parent would want to start things off! of course, without the NICU my nieces would not be alive at this point and so my family is super grateful for all the technology and medical advances here, but we're so looking forward to when these sweeties can go home. :) there are tons of things i didn't know before having someone close to me go through this kind of situation, and here are a few of the things i've learned along the way:
when a baby is in the NICU, this is the itty-bitty version of the grown up intensive care unit. when updates say "things are going well"- this does not mean things are going normally and all is perfect. it just means the situation is less life-and-death than it could be, and there's hope of improvement every day. there are lots of ups and downs to your baby needing a lot of extra help to stay alive.
when someone has more than one baby at one time, remember how overwhelming one brand-new infant can be. then multiply. :) multiples are an incredible blessing, but twice (or more than twice) the adjustment. new moms of multiples are trying to learn a WHOLE lot about more than one tiny little person. it's a super busy time for those parents... maybe the busiest time in their lives. :)
things that can be so so so helpful to a new parent going through something like this:
- meals (food of all kinds has been a gem to my sister and brother in law! they definitely don't have time to cook or grocery shop for themselves.)
- cards/letters/notes of encouragement that they can read in their free time
- offers of help (even if a new parent doesn't take you up on an offer, it's so sweet and encouraging!)
- nights in a hotel closeby if the hospital is a drive away from their home
- the occasional text/email/call. even if there's not a lot of spare time, it's awesome to stay connected to people they love.
if a baby is in the NICU or is premature, visitors may be wanted, but not necessarily safe. tiny babes like my nieces are in more danger if they even catch a cold, especially if they're already struggling to eat or breathe. when my nieces are finally released to go home from the hospital, they'll probably still have to be more sheltered from a ton of exposure to people than the average newborn... it's a totally different situation than having a full-term baby.
it's a long road when babies are born very early... most importantly families like this need your prayers! if you think of them, please pray for my nieces in particular. their mommy and daddy want them home and out of the hospital more than anything. :)