November 20, 2001, four weeks earlier than expected, Evan and Jonah came into the world very quickly. As the team of 21 Dr.’s, NICU staff and helpers worked in our room to stabilize Evan, his twin brother Jonah was born four minutes later; crying and ready to take on the world. Evan was put into an isolate and stopped for a quick hello on his way by to the NICU, his home for 10 days. We held Jonah for a little while before he too was taken to NICU.
Within an hour, I was strong enough to be taken down to the NICU, my babies home for the first days of their lives. Twelve years later I still remember that first time I entered that amazing place full of machines and babies, sinks, and caring professionals. Right by the door, lying in a warming bed where he spent a lot of the first day was my little “monkey man” he looked so perfect, yet so helpless. We were greeted by a wonderful nurse at the door telling us he was doing good breathing with a bit of oxygen, and monitoring his vitals explaining the number of wires attached to him. We were scared to touch him but jumped at the chance when we were told we could. At that instant, being in what seemed to be a busy place I still remember fixating on Evan, nothing else mattered. We asked the nurse where our second baby was and we were directed to the bay next to Evans. Jonah was in his isolate sound asleep. He too had all kinds of wires monitoring his vitals, but no oxygen. That afternoon, the nurse picked our just 5 lb. Jonah out of his isolate and set him in my arms for the first time since in NICU, what an amazing feeling. A little while later Russ held him for his first time and was taught how to feed him through the tube going into his nose. We both remember how patient and encouraging the nurse was; from then on we were called to Jonah’s bay to feed him when we could. Day two, I remember feeling a bit sad reaching through the windows to touch our Evan, I vividly remember telling the nurse that I had not held him yet, she took Evan out, placed him in my arms and gave me the biggest reassuring smile I will ever remember.
On day four, the day after I was discharged, things changed drastically. I did my routine phone call and found out there was an issue with a baby in their bay and that I couldn’t go in for a while. Stressed out in the waiting room waiting to see my boys hoping it was not them and they were fine. Well, I was wrong, the night earlier when we were bathing Evan we noticed a small open sore on his neck, the nurses checked it out and figured it was nothing to worry about but to make sure they were going to swab it. I noticed they were always careful in there, never taking anything for granted. That morning the results of Evans swab came back as a Staph infection. It was determined that he would be put on IV antibiotics for a week and isolated away from all babies. We found him and his twin brother moved to the breastfeeding room under strict handwashing and gowning procedures, a nurse to themselves as to ensure no one else’s baby contracted it. W e were told Evan will fight it because he is not a sick baby battling other medical issues, but they didn’t want another baby to get it as it could turn out devastating. At that point, our easy-going NICU stay instantly changed. As a mom who is very relaxed, suddenly your world goes into a different mode. Now my baby was “sick” requiring more monitoring, blood tests, swabs and special care. It was the next day sitting in our isolation room, babies sleeping and talking to a nurse who had been with my boys on other days that I really got the realization that wow, these nurses, one in particular, have an amazing job to do.(I still remember her name, Crystal) At that point her main job was to look after my babies, to make sure Evan had the drugs he needed, and to do everything in her power to ensure me, as a mom, was comfortable with everything going on. She was so gentle, took a back seat to the mothering and let me do it all. After a few days on the medication, he started to come around and was finally able to eat his bottle and be taken off all the tubes. He was then transferred to the Pediatric Isolation Ward, as he only needed to be monitored for vitals.
The first night in Pediatrics was so overwhelming, no one-on-one nurse, no comforts of the NICU. A nurse would pop in on occasion and then leave, give meds and leave. The next night after talking to the doctor, we were given our own nurse for the boys and we were so happy when it was a nurse we remembered from the NICU. That night we again realized that it takes a special person to deal with NICU babies. She was awesome and made us feel comforted in that not so familiar place. Finally, two days later, with the same nurse at our side, she removed Jonah’s tube and Evans IV. We were done with our hospital journey, our NICU days were complete, and we had two healthy 5 lb. babies to take home to meet their brother Ethan for the first time.
We were blessed, and thankful for the support and help we received from the Dr.’s and NICU staff, and family. Those weeks will never be forgotten. We went up to NICU on their 5th birthday to deliver some Christmas chocolates and a box of oranges to the staff along with some bassinet cards that a group of us moms from our Saskatoon Parents of Twins and Triplets group had made (a treasure we still have from our boy’s beds). I wanted them to get a chance to just see even the area where they started out. That has been the only time I have been back there, but the smells and memories will never be erased.
Our success is warranted to the tremendous support BloomNICU receives from local community through corporate sponsorship and from the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. A variety of sponsorship packages are available.