The boys are sleeping right now, who knows for how long, but as long as they are quiet right now…
I want to write about what has happened over the last 2 months, and it all starts with the boys’ 1st 3 weeks spent in the NICU. The boys were born healthy and without any problems on a Wednesday. They spent the first few hours of their life with me, and the next few in the nursery while I had some time to rest, although I couldn’t sleep. I was too high on adrenaline from all the excitement. I told the hospital that I wanted the boys breastfed only, so they were brought to me throughout the day and night for feeds, but I was exhausted and needed sleep, so they stayed in the nursery until morning aside from feeds. It’s been two months and a lot of trauma later now so I don’t remember exactly how the rest of this happened, but on Thursday night, I couldn’t get Kayan to feed. He just wouldn’t wake up. I expressed some milk and the nurse fed it to him, but he was just listless and wouldn’t wake up. I was worried, but the nurses and midwives didn’t seem too worried so I tried to put it out of my mind since I had another baby to worry about too.
The next morning I woke up with the baby blues though. That time after giving birth when the world feels like it is going to end and you just can’t go on and you are a terrible mother and you will never sleep again and how are you going to get through the next week let along 18 years? I had Akinori come to the hospital before work because I was an emotional mess and I had a good chat with my midwife and we sorted out a plan where I would just have 1 baby with me each day and alternate between the babies and I would pump milk for the baby I wasn’t with. I was just plain exhausted and my body hurt. It still wasn’t used to not having all that extra weight. Losing 9 kgs. in 10 minutes is a huge shock to your body!
That day, Friday, was Rua’s day with me. Both boys were having their pediatric exam that day though and the midwife said she would come and get Rua when it was time. She brought me my celebratory lunch and I was already feeling better. Then she came back.
She started out by telling me not to get upset, so of course right away I was worried. She said they had done a blood test on Kayan as he had been so listless the night before and the nurse on duty was worried. They found his blood sugar level to be alarmingly low so he was admitted to the NICU for more tests, which meant that Rua would automatically need to be admitted too. She said they wouldn’t admit him for a little while yet though so I could spend some more time with him before he went, and to call Akinori back to the hospital so we could both hear what the dr. had to say.
I was called to speak with the dr. first for a preliminary explanation and she said the absolute bare minimum blood sugar level for a healthy baby should be 45. Kayan’s BSL was 13! That was all the information she had for me then, and Rua was called shortly after. I don’t think I stopped crying once from the moment the midwife told me Kayan was admitted to the NICU. I couldn’t finish my lunch until Akinori got there and helped me calm down a bit and basically forced me to eat. And then of course I started looking up low blood sugar in infants and the causes and effects, etc. on the internet. Stupid, stupid move. I discovered the biggest worry is the effect on the brain.
The results of the tests were finally in, and we were called into the NICU. What a horrible, horrible place, was all I could think. All of these newborn babies without their mommies. All of their mommies aching for their babies. Just awful, and I could not stop crying. The nurse who greeted us and was in charge of the boys wasn’t the most understanding of a crying mother either, and I decided I hated her. There were other nurses though who were great and brought me tissues and rubbed my back and told me it would be okay. The dr. said they tested Rua too, just in case and found his BSL was low too, so both boys were on IVs. However, when they first put Kayan’s in, he wasn’t improving, so they needed to push a central line catheter in. Seeing your 2-day old babies with needles and wires stuck all over them is a sight no mother should ever have to see. It’s awful. I was really concerned about Kayan’s brain and asked the dr. about it, but she couldn’t give me any definite answers. She said they would do tests though over the coming days to make sure he was okay. She also said that the boys may possibly be released at the time I would be released from the hospital on Monday.
I was told that the cause was probably because Kayan wasn’t getting enough breastmilk. I was definitely producing, but his latch probably wasn’t as strong as I thought it was and the milk wasn’t getting to him. Of course that made me feel like I had done this to my babies and it was all my fault for insisting they be fed breastmilk only. No matter how many people told me it wasn’t my fault, there was absolutely no way I could believe them. I thought I should have caught it earlier, or maybe insisted they bring in a pediatrician the night before when Kayan first seemed so listless. There was just no way that this wasn’t my fault.
I spoke to my parents and my dad has a good background in medical issues as he worked in a hospital for many, many years as an infection control officer and he said that unless Kayan spent at least 48 hours with low BS, then he was probably okay. It was probably less than 12 hours from the time he first became listless until he got an IV so I felt much better after hearing that, but only about his prognosis, not about it not being my fault.
We were called back into the NICU a few hours later to hear the rest of the test results. It turned out that not only was Kayan’s BSL low, but his insulin count was high. The human body only produces insulin when one’s BS level is high in order to bring it down, so the fact that Kayan was producing insulin with a low BSL was an anomaly that would either correct itself with time, or needed to be figured out and corrected. Either way, it was a matter of time and the boys were now looking at at least a week in the NICU. The only good news was that it wasn’t my fault, and I could now hear that and believe it. Though the midwife said she knew something else had to be the problem as I was already producing a good amount and there was no way the boys not getting enough milk was the problem.
As this all happened on Friday, the next two days were the weekend and absolutely miserable. Everything stops on the weekend. The number of people working in the lab drastically drops and test results don’t get returned until Monday or Tuesday. The number of nurses drastically drops so they won’t let you breastfeed babies in the NICU unless they have already been there awhile. When I went to visit the boys on Saturday though they had been moved. Kayan wasn’t in a little infant cot, he was up on a table with monitors all over his head watching his brain activity. Over night he had some kind of weird movement in his eyes and they wanted him somewhere they could keep an eye on him better. This was again devastating to me. I was finally able to enter the NICU without crying and then this. Cue tears.
Monday came and Rua had his IV removed, and I was able to give him his first bath and breastfeed him. Kayan had his first EEG, and we were able to sit down with the dr. again and get some good news. The problem was probably something that would fix itself and soon. Because the boys are identical twins, if it were a more serious problem or illness, it would occur in Rua too, and it wasn’t, which meant it was just a matter of time for Kayan’s body to fix itself. The dr. said maybe another week, which would mean they could come home just before Golden Week. Cue huge sigh of relief and happy tears.
I stayed in the hospital an extra 2 days. Kayan had a setback one of those days. His BSL would drop if he cried for a long period of time. He was on a strict feeding schedule though with prescribed amounts of milk. So if he was hungry and crying, they would leave him to cry until his next feed. I mean they did their best to soothe him with a pacifier, but he was hungry and crying once and when they measured his BSL it was in the 30’s so they upped his IV again. Cue tears. I was really upset. I felt like being in the NICU was actually doing more harm than good at this point. If he were with me he wouldn’t be crying because he was hungry because I could feed him whenever and make sure that he wasn’t going hungry causing him to use all his energy crying and therefore causing his BSL wouldn’t drop. I went back to the maternity ward crying hysterically. One of the nurses came and sat with me and called the NICU to find out what the situation was and tried to soothe me, but ended up crying right along with me.
The day I left the hospital one of the midwives brought me all of my paperwork and my birth plan. All of the nursing staff had written messages all over my birth plan. Cue tears. The messages were all so encouraging and sweet. Most of the nurses/midwives had never seen a natural breech birth, and many had never even seen a natural twin birth. It’s been a long time since I received anything that made me feel so special (aside from my boys).
I was pumping every 3-4 hours and delivering milk to the NICU, and breastfeeding when I could, and when I had to leave the hospital on Wednesday I felt like I was leaving my limbs in the hospital. It was so horribly heartbreaking to leave my boys behind. It was hard enough going to visit them everyday and saying goodbye when I went back to my hospital room just down the hall. Actually physically leaving the building was horrible. I cried when I left the NICU, and the NICU nurse cried too. She promised me that they would do everything in their power to get the boys healthy enough to come home ASAP. Sara also broke down in the car because she couldn’t understand why the boys couldn’t come home with us too.
I had to pump milk when I got home that night and then again twice over night, freeze it, and bring it in for the boys the next day. I had to pump when I woke up in the morning, and once before lunch. Then Akinori would come home from work, pick me up and drop me off at the hospital where I would sit with the boys until Akinori finished work and picked up the girls, and then he would come to the hospital with the girls, come say hi to the boys, and we would all go home to eat dinner and I would start the whole pumping, freezing cycle again. Once, over GW I ended up with mastitis. I went to the midwife clinic to have a breast massage and was told to REST. My body was still recovering from the birth and the schedule I was keeping was exhausting. It’s only a month later and already that first month seems like a blur and it feels like it was years ago.
It was the longest 3 weeks of my life. The boys were released exactly 3 weeks from the day they were hospitalized. Stupid GW got in the way as did May 1, Red Cross Foundation Day. The entire hospital basically stops. It was so frustrating! My boys were so tiny when they were admitted and so big already when they were released! I felt like their infanthood was stolen from me. They grow so fast in the first few months and only spending a few hours with them everyday was not nearly enough time for me to watch them grow. Every time I would go back the next day the boys seemed even bigger. They were huge when they were finally released. So many lovely friends sent infant and preemie clothes for the boys that they even got to wear as they were too big already when they came home.
The day the boys were released we went to the midwife clinic and the boys and I stayed there for 5 nights to get used to each other and try to get a schedule going. It was so nice to have so many helpful hands available all the time. The girls were THRILLED to be able to hold and cuddle their brothers finally. It was wonderful to eat healthy yummy food everyday that was prepared for me. I didn’t have to lift a finger. I was so happy to be with my boys. I didn’t even mind waking up in the middle of the night, but the more time I spent with them, the more I realized it would be hard once I got home. I was nervous about having to take care of the boys all on my own, but at the end of the time at the midwife clinic I was also anxious to get them home already and to start our life together as a full-time family.
Today is exactly 5 weeks since the boys were released from the hospital. They’ve been home just over 4 weeks, and I can’t remember what life was like before they showed up anymore. Funny how that happens. They are good boys. I am afraid to talk about how much sleep because I am worried I will jinx myself, but they are good sleepers, now. They both wake up a few times over night, but they go right back to sleep and I tend to fall asleep around 10 these days, so I am getting a decent amount of sleep at night and am able to nap with them during the day usually. They are both gaining weight well, and have started smiling lots. Much less awake=crying time, and more awake, looking around, taking-it-all-in time when awake. They coo and smile back at me when I talk to them, which I LOVE! So freaking cute!!
And now they are awake, which means the end of this post!