Brayden & Parker

Nothing can begin to describe the pure elation my husband and I experienced when the ultrasound technician told us that we would be expecting twins. On the flip side, nothing can come close to describing the heartache that accompanied their premature birth, 12 weeks too soon.

Although due January 28th, 2015, the Brayden and Parker made their grand, yet unhinging arrival into the world on November 6th, 2014 at 28 weeks’ gestation. Both were resuscitated after their evacuation from the womb and administered Surfactant to prevent the walls of their lungs from sticking together. I saw our boys for the first time, held up for me to see from across the room, in plastics bags to help them retain their body heat.

They were immediately rushed down to the NICU. As I lay in the recovery room, baby-less and empty handed, I couldn’t help but feel despondent. November 6th was not the happiest day of my life. I was not happy that I had given birth to our twins. I was inexplicably terrified and sad, filled with the guilt that accompanied the nagging feeling that my body had failed them.

As is said by every NICU parent, regardless of the length of their child’s stay, the journey was a roller coaster. For the first few weeks of their lives we didn’t know what they looked like. The majority of the day they dawned eye shields which covered their faces. These shields protected their eyes from the bilirubin lights that were helping their bodies heal from their severe jaundice. Their faces were also covered by their CPAP masks, which pushed oxygen into their lungs to help them take breaths. On day 4, Parker was diagnosed with a Level II IVH. His prognosis was unknown. It could cause him disability, or it could be completely inconsequential. Only time would tell.

During their entire NICU stay, Brayden and Parker fought to breathe. Their oxygen needs were alarmingly substantial at times. Between the significant oxygen dependencies, the Level II IVH, severe reflux, inability to maintain stable body temperatures, heart issues (Parker was diagnosed with a PFO), persistent bradycardia, apnea and feeding difficulties, I worried I would leave the hospital someday heartbroken. I feared I would be return home without one or both of our boys. As horrible as it sounds, I refused to let myself fully bond with them. I didn’t want to get to know them and love them just to lose them. It wasn’t until they both returned home, more than two months after their birth, that I allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to fully bond with them.

Time in the NICU passed by so very slowly. We spent Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day in the hospital. We wept especially hard when we left them at the hospital on the holidays. We knew that they deserved to be surrounding by family and friends instead of feeding tubes, breathing machines and noisy monitors.

But the days finally came when both boys came home. Brayden came home January 6th, 2015 and Parker joined him 10 days later. Parker was discharged from the hospital on oxygen and with a monitor to alert us to any events caused by bradycardia and/or apnea. He remained on supplemental oxygen for two months, and was discharged from his pulmonologist and cardiologist that spring. Both boys were treated for their reflux until they turned 2.

Today, Brayden and Parker are boisterous, brazen, affectionate and opinionated. They are perfect. It took two years to get here, but I no longer feel guilty for their premature arrival. They were supposed to enter the world the way that they did, and I could have done nothing differently to change that.

Following their discharge, both boys received physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and special instruction. They have met or exceeded all developmental milestones with the help of their therapists, and remain in speech therapy only to ensure that they continue on the right path.

We are so thankful to the staff at Abington’s Special Care Nursery for saving Brayden and Parker. They deserve to be here and we’re so fortunate that the nurses and neonatologists worked tirelessly to ensure that they could stay here with us.

Family, friends, nurses, and doctors reminded us to take the NICU journey "one day at a time". We rejoiced in the "good" days.

Martha & Paul / Wyndmoor, PA

Martha & Paul