The good news about having two babies in the NICU

After my daughter and older twin was admitted to the NICU my husband and I had a tainted smile. The twins were together, we were together. We beat the system.

With COVID regulations only  one person was allowed to visit and if you left you could only enter again after change of shift at 7 AM or 7 PM. We had two babies next to each other, we were able to see both babies and due to the kind nurses we were allowed to go between  both of the babies. Although technically we should have stayed with only one baby per 12 hour shift, but that would mean only one baby would be able to breast feed for that shift. However my son was on such high amounts of oxygen breast feeding was impossible but I was able to feed my daughter then finish with a bottle of formula or have the nurses give formula down a tube from her nose into her stomach.

Unfortunatly because the babies were a month early and I had a c- section milk had not yet come in. I felt such frustration and ineptitude. The first time I pumped I pumped 6 millileters, the equivalent to half a tablespoon. The next; none, not a drop, the next; one milliliter, the next; none. I faithfully filled a tiny syringe with milk and gave the little I could to my babies. Half a milliliter to one and half to the other hoping the antibodies would at least give them protection from the many bacteria and viruses waiting for a chance to attack their non existant immune system. I continued to pump every three hours for two days getting either none or a few drops. I was devastated. The one thing I could do to help my babies. Why was my body failing me?? Waking every three hours to pump, leaving my babies side to pump and for what? I breast fed two other children with fantastic success. I had read all there was to read about breastfeeding and took courses for medical professionals concerning breastfeeding. I knew nearly all there was to know but my body had forgotten. After my third visit from the lactation consultant I finally doubled from one milliliter to two and then three hours later four ml, the next session 8 and then 16. I went from angry crying to overjoyed. I was tired, swollen, in pain from my incision, and sore from pumping and trying to breastfeed my daughter but none of it mattered. I could provide for my two babies.

I have known mothers who struggled or were unable to breastfeed their children. I knew it could be agonizing for a mother who wanted to breastfeed but could not. I now knew if only for a few days the worry, the feeling of failure, and the frustration and I felt truly connected to them. With every new pain, feeling of loneliness, frustration, or emptiness I made a new human connection, a new brother in misery and hope, a new sister in worry or joyfulness with each small milestone reached. And so it is that with each new experience be it pain or joy we find new understanding and new abilities to know one another and to connect to someone new or in a new way.

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