Thursday, January 9, 2014

Twins and the NICU

With twins often being born prematurely, a visit to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a hospital is not unusual. So here is some information from my book that might be helpful. If you go on a hospital tour, ask if you can see the department just to familiarize yourself with it. Twins and multiples are far more likely to be admitted than singletons, largely because they are more likely to either be underweight, premature, or both.

My daughter was sent there a few hours after her birth for a relatively minor sucking and swallowing issue, and more than half the newborns in the ward were twins or triplets. The difficulty for us, was that our son was discharged within the normal 48 hour period and so we had to decide how to care for both of them. Our hospital had a few rooms connected to the NICU that parents could utilize to stay overnight if they chose to, and since we were expecting our daughter’s stay to be short, we moved into one of the rooms with Joshua in tow. If your stay is long, or if both twins have been admitted to the NICU you might not opt to stay in the hospital.

The difficulty comes from the fact that the hospital treats the patient’s twin sibling as a visitor. The hospital staff has no responsibility for the second baby anymore, and sometimes the nurses in the NICU seem oblivious to the fact that there is another baby to be fed and cared for. One nurse, who I doubt had children and certainly not twins, told my wife after twelve hours straight of switching between our two newborns that she had “a time management problem.” I credit Lisa, who is a highly organized person, to this day for not losing it then and there.

 Three days after Lisa gave birth, our daughter was supposed to be released. But about an hour before the scheduled release time, a nurse said “an incident” had occurred and so the doctor decided to keep her in the NICU. A few days later, the doctor again decided to release our daughter and so she had to take the car seat breathing test for an hour, before we could take her home. It seemed like the longest hour of my life as I waited and watched to see that her breathing was normal in the bucket car seat we had purchased for her. The test went fine, and so we happily headed for home!

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