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Coping with the NICU
Having to give birth and watch as your multiples are being wheeled to a NICU right away is a very daunting experience for a parent of multiples. Here are a couple of tips to ease into this new stage in your family's life.
Bond with the nurses
You will not be able to be by your baby's side every second of every day, so it is best that you bond with a couple of nurses in the NICU. Try to (subtly) make sure they know as much as they can about you and your family. It will be a lot easier knowing that you have bonded with a nurse, and that they will know/remember you in your absence. Make sure to ask them any questions you might have. Many times you will find that the nurses are a lot more helpful and communicative than the doctors are. It is also very wise to ask the nurses if there is anything that you can do to help with the babies. Many times they will allow you to help a tad bit more and let's face it, wouldn't you get along better with someone that is helpful in your workplace?
Prepare your meals
It can take a toll on a family when you have babies in the NICU. If you have other children at home call family and friends and see if they can help you prepare and store meals for your family for the upcoming days. If you have more time one night, you (or your spouse or helpful family member) may want to pre-prepare some heat and serve meals for when you come home and need something quickly for the family without too much preparation. In addition, pastas (with jar sauces), lunch meats, pre-made Pillsbury dough (and pizza ingredients), and canned tuna fish can all come together in several different ways for a quick and still satisfying meal. You want to make sure that your children at home are well aware that you are doing your best to keep both sides happy. Having meals that you can just heat and eat at home makes it a lot easier in the long run.
No missed moments
As mentioned before you will not be able to be in the hospital with your babies all of the time. This makes it very difficult to be able to catch milestones that are reached. Purchase a disposable camera and leave it behind for the nurses to take pictures when you are not around. Some of the very best pictures have been taken by nurses. Never underestimate the caring and helpful manner of nurses. Many of them are mothers as well and know how trying this is for you and your family.
Ask the nurses and doctors in the NICU if they feel it would be ok to do Kangaroo care. This is the act of holding your babies (one at a time) skin to skin. It has been medically proven that preemies that have this type of treatment for a couple of hours a day reach milestones a lot quicker. It is good to understand that sometimes you will not be able to do so for one reason or another, and that's normal. Just try not to let it upset you too much.
Although it will be very hard to not do so, try to not obsess over the monitors while in the room. It is important you understand that even the healthiest of babies have spells that can trigger a monitor. If a monitor goes off, just step aside and let the medical team do their jobs without asking too may questions. There will be more than enough time to ask and answer after everything is taken care of.
Take care of you
It can very easy to put your wellness to the side and just tend to your babies. However, it is very important to take some time to rest. A multiple (always "high risk") pregnancy will send the female body through some very drastic changes, both physical and emotional. Try to take a quick stroll in a park, go window shopping, or even walk around the hospital if that is all that time allows just to clear your head. Many mothers of multiples who have done this have said that it helped them go back to the hospital re-vitalized.
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