Today is a day I reflect on where we were just a year ago. We were 87 days into a very trying experience. Baby B was scheduled for his VP Shunt insertion surgery for day 89. His second surgery. It was a constant waiting game.
Knowing surgery is coming and that it's inevitible can be extremely stressful on a parent and it was in my husband's and my case. Very early on we agreed not to discuss the "what if's" and dread the unknown. We knew that we had to remain as positive as possible; think positive and positive things should follow. We told family very early on that we did not want to discuss "negatives" on a regular basis and we all had to focus on things one day at a time. To imagine what could happen or where we may or may not be in a year's time would not help anything. We also made it known that we would not be calling each and every family member every evening with updates. "No news is good news."
I'm kind of a superstitious person and I felt that if we focused too often on the scary and terrible things that were happening, then only bad things would follow. I also figured that if we were constantly sharing these stories with friends and family, they would begin to worry, pity the babies and be sending negative energy. It may sound ridiculous or hocus pocus to some, but that's how I felt and still do! :)
By this time one year ago, our babies had graduated into cribs. Actual cribs! To walk into the NICU after months of seeing your baby in incubators and suddenly see them in their cribs is an amazing feeling! It can bring a mother or father to tears. Good tears.
Recently someone I know had to write an essay on the question along the lines of, "What piece of modern day technology has impacted you most?" As soon as this question was mentioned to me, I immediately thought, "The incubator." Others would say, the computer, my Blackberry/iPhone, the camera, etc.
The incubator, these days usually referred to as the isolette, is what helped to save my 3 sons' lives. It was one of the biggest tools to help my children grow and become strong enough to come home, when my body could no longer do that for them.
The incubator for babies was created after the incubator concept for incubating and hatching chicken eggs. Fittingly, I've always referred to my sons as my "Spring Chicks"--all due in July, yet arriving in springtime.
As indicated on wikipedia, the incubator can assist with the following:
- Oxygenation: through oxygen supplementation by head hood or nasal cannula, or even continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or mechanical ventilation. Infant respiratory distress syndrome is the leading cause of death in preterm infants, and the main treatments are CPAP, in addition to administering surfactant and stabilizing the blood sugar, blood salts, and blood pressure.
- Observation: Modern neonatal intensive care involves sophisticated measurement of temperature, respiration, cardiac function, oxygenation, and brain activity.
- Protection from cold temperature, infection, noise, drafts and excess handling. Incubators may be described as bassinets enclosed in plastic, with climate control equipment designed to keep them warm and limit their exposure to germs.
- Provision of nutrition, through intravenous catheter or NG tube.
- Administration of medications.
- Maintaining fluid balance by providing fluid and keeping a high air humidity to prevent too great a loss from skin and respiratory evaporation.
A very clear and excellent description of the incubator and its importance in a premature child's life can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incubator_(neonatal)#Incubator.
In reflection, I think of the story of my paternal grandmother, who was born weighing about 2 lbs. At that time incubators were not widely used and she was kept alive by use of the warm coal from the kitchen stove. She is a petite little lady, at the height of about 4'10" and she is proud to tell the story of how she was born and survived. Her mother did not know she was pregnant. She reminded me of this many times when I was growing up and again when our "2 pounders" arrived.
Today our twins are 19 lbs and 6 oz (Baby A) and 18 lbs 5 oz (Baby B.) That's a long way from their original 2 lbs and with much, much thanks to the modern technology of today, particularly the incubator!
Happy 1 year corrected to my little men!