Friday, November 28, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Jenny Jackson

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories in November will be about precious preemies.


If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out our questionnaire!

Jenny Jackson

Where do you currently live?  The Woodlands, TX

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bump Day | 37 Week Gallery

Week 37 Twin Bump Pictures 

Twins' Birthday: 11.23.13
Born at 37 weeks, 1 day
Amelia Grace: 5 lbs 14 oz
Isla Pearl: 6 lbs 4 oz

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Amber Condreay

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories in November will be about precious preemies.

Below, Amber shares her emotional story of the short but meaningful lives of her precious sons, Cooper and Reed, who were born at 22 weeks.


If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out our questionnaire!

Amber Condreay

Where do you currently live?  Oklahoma City, OK

Monday, November 24, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Emily Reed

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories in November will be about precious preemies.


If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out our questionnaire!

Emily Reed

Where do you currently live?  Irving, TX

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Katy McLaughlin

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories in November will be about precious preemies.


If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out our questionnaire!

Katy McLaughlin

Where do you currently live?  Tulsa, Oklahoma

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Two Sets of Twins

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories as well as the majority of Twin Talk posts in November will be about precious preemies.


I always knew that I wanted to be a mom someday.  Never in my wildest dreams, however, could I have predicted what motherhood would be for me.  Our first set of twins, Braeden and Raegen, were born in September of 2010.  When Tom and I found out we were pregnant with twins earlier that year, it was somewhat of a surprise but not a total shock.  We did IVF and put two great looking embryos in, and were fortunate for both to implant.  We were thrilled, and our families were too.   I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy up until about 34 weeks, at which time I was told to take it easy.   The babies were born healthy at 35 weeks, and only spent a short time in the NICU transitioning and learning to eat.   The first several months at home were hard, adjusting to being parents and getting the babies into a routine.   Having twins was just as other twin moms had told me- the first year is rough but then it DOES get easier. 

Fast forward a few years.  We started talking about trying IVF again right around the time that our “babies” turned 3.   I think if you have twins and always know that you want to have another baby, it is really difficult to decide WHEN to do it.  I don’t think I would have been ready any time in the first couple of years.  But with the kids being potty trained, feeding themselves, and finally gaining some independence and personality, things finally felt a little “easier.”  We had 4 frozen embryos, and I was absolutely adamant that I only wanted to transfer one this time.  I really wanted to experience what it was like to have a singleton pregnancy and one baby to care for.  In November, we thawed 2 embryos and put one in.  The embryos are frozen in vials of 2, so unfortunately you have to thaw both.  The one that we didn’t use did not survive, and the one we transferred did not implant.  A few months later, we decided to give it one last shot with our 2 remaining embryos.  I really struggled with what to do- should we put in 1 or 2?  After a lot of thought, we decided to go ahead and put both in.  We saw this really as our last chance and my doctor told me that even with putting both in, the chances of both implanting was pretty low.  A couple of weeks later, we got the good news that I was pregnant!  We went for our first ultrasound to make sure everything looked ok, and one perfect little “blob” popped up on the screen.  Tom asked if the doctor was sure there was just one, and he said he was sure.  I think we both breathed a little sigh of relief at that moment.  The plan was to go back in a week or so for 1 more ultrasound and then I would be released to my regular OB. 

The following week, I had some bleeding so they had me come in a few days early for that second ultrasound.  I told Tom that he didn’t need to take off work again to come with me, and that I would just call him after.  I was actually scared that I would go in and find out that I had miscarried because of the bleeding.  During the ultrasound, my doctor reassured me that everything with the baby looked great, and that some people just experience bleeding early on.  I was on all the right meds and he really felt that everything would be fine.  As he was finishing up, he moved the wand over and I saw it before he said anything…there was another baby in there.  He quickly said, “wait, we didn’t see 2 last time, did we?”  I think my exact response was, “Are you serious?”   I think he was just as surprised as I was, but told me that everything looked great with that baby too.  He sat back and started talking about what might cause the bleeding, what they would be looking for, etc.  At least I think that is what he was talking about.  I honestly was not even listening.  Up until about 10 minutes ago, I thought I was pregnant with one baby.  Now he was telling me I’m having twins again?  To say that it was the shock of my lifetime would be a complete understatement.  I think he sensed that I wasn’t focused so he told me to call him if I had any questions.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I got in the car and thought about who I could call.  Tom was at work and I knew he wouldn’t be able to focus the rest of the day if I told him, so I called my mom.  As soon as I said the words out loud, I lost it.  I am almost embarrassed to say that I cried.  I was so overwhelmed with so many different emotions, and my mind was racing.  I was so happy to be pregnant, yet terrified to have twins again.  I blurted out exactly what I was thinking to my mom- what is Tom going to say?  We are going to need a bigger house, a new car!  What if my body can’t handle another twin pregnancy?  There’s no way I will be able to keep working full time with 4 kids!  How will we handle it financially?  This was not fair to my older two!  And so many other things…

My mom tried to calm and reassure me, but there wasn’t much she could say at the time to make me feel better.   I then decided that I needed to tell Tom- there was no way I could keep this to myself all day.  I drove to his work and met him in the parking lot as he was coming back from lunch.  I didn’t say anything, I just handed him the ultrasound picture.  We were very familiar with a twin ultrasound picture so he knew right away.  He was silent for a couple minutes but then said, “Ok, well it is what it is.  We will deal with it and everything will be ok.”  I couldn’t believe how well he was handling it.

I was very anxious and emotional for about a week, and then it finally started to sink in.  Don’t get me wrong, I was never disappointed or unhappy with our situation.  I was scared, overwhelmed, and worried.  I am a NICU nurse, and I think any of the nurses that I work with would agree when I say that working there really puts a damper on pregnancy.  What should be a happy time in your life is actually 9 months filled with anxiety and worry because of all the things we see.  And I think I was actually “mourning” the fact that I would never know the feeling of carrying one baby, of giving my undivided attention to one baby.

When we told our families our news a couple months later, everyone was shocked but so excited.  I really started to feel better and more at ease after I saw everyone’s reaction.  Tom and I truly have the most incredible support system.  You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” well we have that village.  An amazing one.  After I had some time to process everything, I was able to realize how lucky and blessed Tom and I really were.  Braeden and Raegen  were the best thing to ever happen to us.  They have brought so much joy into our lives, and they are the best of friends.  They have a bond that they will never have with any other person.  And now we were going to experience that all over again. 

My second pregnancy was definitely different than the first.  I felt exhausted the whole time, and chasing after 2 toddlers didn’t help.  At 31 weeks, my water broke suddenly.  I was put on hospitalized bedrest in an attempt to keep the babies in until 34 weeks.  It was a rough time for not only me, but for my husband and kids as well.  I hated being away from them.  A couple days after I hit the 32 week mark, I started contracting and bleeding and the doctors decided it was time to deliver.  Daniel and Quinn were born that night, weighing in at 3 lbs 13 oz and 3 lbs 12 oz.  They spent just under 4 weeks in the NICU.  They were perfect and did everything right on track.  Having my work friends take care of our babies was a blessing.  I never had a doubt in my mind that my babies were in the best place they could be.  I was nervous to bring them home, but also ready to have my whole family under one roof.  The babies are now 12 weeks old, and I would say that we are all still adjusting.  We have good days and bad days, just like anyone else. 

Our life is busy and chaotic at times, but good.  Sometimes the babies will be playing on the floor and the older 2 will be talking to them and entertaining them, and I just stand and think that I cannot believe all of these little people are mine.  Braeden and Raegen are the best big brother and sister in the world.  They are always willing to help and are absolutely in love with their babies.  I am much more relaxed this time around, and I have some experience under my belt.  I have come to accept some things:  My house will always be a mess.  I will very often have spit up or food on my shirt.  Some days I won’t get 5 minutes to myself, or even time to shower.  There will be great days, but there will also be very challenging days.  I will get looks of pity in public and hear “you really have your hands full” more times than I care to hear.  But I also know this: I will never be bored, and I will always have someone to talk to.  I will always have a full house for birthdays, holidays, and special events.  I have a family dynamic that not many people have.  My best friend and I get to spend our lives together with our 4 amazing kids.  My heart is full of love and joy for all of my babies, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our family.

Our journey will not be an easy one, but I know that it will be worth it.  I think all twin moms agree that having twins is unique and amazing.  I’m so blessed to experience it twice!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Day in the Life: NICU

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and today, November 17, is World Prematurity Day.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories as well as the majority of Twin Talk posts in November will be about preemies.

Jackie submitted a few pictures for Twin Talk's Bump Day.  When she sent her final bump picture at 28 weeks, I looked at her twins' birthday and realized they were only a month old.  I emailed her and asked how everyone was doing and she responded letting me know they were still in the NICU but doing well.  We emailed back and forth a few times and I asked if she'd feel comfortable writing a Day in the Life NICU post for Twin Talk readers.  She agreed and her post below is extraordinary. 

To parents of preemies:  You amaze me.  You are so strong.  In fact, the only people I know who are stronger than you are your precious preemie fighters. 


Andrew and I began dating in 2007 and got engaged Christmas Eve 2010. We had a destination wedding in Mexico with our close family and friends.

When we were 6 weeks pregnant, we found out we were having twins! At 7 weeks, we got to see and hear their hearts beat. It is the most amazing sound and sight. We started with a high risk Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor right from the start as I was having bleeding in the early weeks in addition to my regular OB who would do the delivery. The MFM doctor gave us plenty of ultrasounds!

At the end of my first trimester, we were in Aruba with my family and decided to make our pregnancy announcement:

At 14 weeks, we had a gender reveal party for our family. We were so incredibly surprised and excited to find out we were having two girls! My poor husband was going to be outnumbered and broke.  :)

At my routine 24 week appointment with my maternal fetal medicine doctor, I had my ultrasound and we waited for the doctor. He came into the room and asked if I was having any pains. Every once in awhile I’d feel something that felt like the babies were pushing out on my stomach, so I told him yes. What happened next was a whirlwind. He told me that I was having contractions and needed to be put on the monitor to find out how many. He got up and left the room. My husband and I looked at each other in complete panic. 24 weeks and contractions?! I didn’t even feel any! We knew it was too early for the babies to come.

They hooked me up to the monitor and within 10 minutes, I had two contractions. The doctor also told me that my cervix was shortening (it was 15 when it was supposed to be around 30). He told me I had to go to the hospital and come back to see him after. I looked at him so confused and said, “You’re going to be open that late tonight?” He laughed and said “Oh no, they’ll keep you for a few days.” I was horrified. I didn’t know what to expect. I started crying again. We went home, packed our bags without knowing what was going to happen, and headed to the hospital. They admitted me and I stayed on the high risk OB floor for the next 5 days hooked up to a monitor for the babies’ heart rates and my contractions. I was given magnesium to help slow contractions and steroid shots to help the babies’ lungs develop in case I had to deliver. I was so terrified. A doctor from the NICU came in to see me and went through all the risks associated with delivering babies at 24 weeks. The monitoring showed that my contractions had slowed, so I was sent home with medicine and put on bed rest until further notice. I had to see my OB and the MFM doctor every week, my only outings from the house. Since sitting put pressure on my cervix, I reclined most of the time. It got old fast, but I knew it was best.

The following weekend of my release from the hospital, my baby shower was scheduled. I received permission from my doctor to attend as long as I sat and didn’t lift anything. The girls were so spoiled by our family and friends, and it lifted my spirits. I was feeling so much better.

At 28 weeks, I had a back to back appointment with the MFM doctor and my OB. MFM told me my cervix was shortened again, but there was nothing they would do for it this time. My OB office gave me the glucose test and told me that my weight and blood pressure were good. I mentioned that I had become a lot more swollen in the past few days, but they all reassured me that it was normal for pregnancy.

The next night, I started to feel contractions greater than anything I had felt before. I laid down and waited about an hour to see if they would go away, but I could feel that something wasn’t right. We called the OB after hours line and waited for the doctor to call back. She said that having about 4 contractions an hour wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad; she recommended I come to the hospital to be checked. I had packed a bag after the last hospital stay “just in case” so I grabbed my bag, my husband packed his, and off we went.

On the ride to the hospital, my contractions started to be about 10 minutes apart. We went to OB triage and were admitted for review. At the time of admittance, I was 1 cm dilated and my blood pressure was through the roof. My blood pressure had been a consistent 110 over 60 the entire pregnancy (and even the day before!) but they checked my urine for protein and it was determined that I had severe preeclampsia. I was taken to the High Risk floor again and given another dose of magnesium and another steroid shot for their lungs.  Because Baby A was breech, my doctor told me that if at any point over the weekend I reached 5 cm or more, they’d have to do a c-section.

Over the next 6 hours, my contractions worsened. The nurses and doctor thought my discomfort was from the magnesium, but I knew this was different from the last time I had the medicine. When my doctor checked me again, I was 8 cm dilated (without an epidural!)

The next 10 minutes were like a movie. Nurses and doctors came flying in the room and they ran me down to the OR. As I was prepped for the surgery, they let me know who was in the room. I didn’t care who anyone was; I just wanted to know where my husband was. They told me he was scrubbing up. Unfortunately, he was not able to be in the room for the c-section because I was under general anesthesia.

Each baby had a team of NICU doctors and nurses in addition to all the regulars for c-sections.  Not even a half hour after announcing we had to go to the delivery room, the girls were born.

(This is the only picture I have of the delivery. My husband was allowed in the room for a few minutes after the girls came out and I was being “put back together.” Baby B was taken immediately to the NICU and he was allowed to take a quick picture with Baby A before she was taken.)

Brooklyn Anne
2 lbs 7 oz
7:11 am

Madelyn Rose
2 lbs 4 oz
7:12 am

The next 24 hours are a complete blur for me. I remember waking up in my hospital room and seeing my entire family staring back at me. I remember crying about the girls and asking how they were and when I could see them. I was put back on magnesium after the delivery because of my preeclampsia so I wasn’t allowed down to the NICU to see the girls until the dosage was done because of the IV bag. I remember thinking that I didn’t want anyone (besides my husband) to see the girls before I did- and apparently I did tell my family that! I was drowsy from the anesthesia and the magnesium for the remainder of the day and night. It is probably the only thing that kept me from being in hysterics. My husband swears I was causing a ruckus in the recovery room, yelling at nurses and insisting I was still pregnant.

The next morning, I had such a hard time processing that the girls were born. Everything happened so quickly and I was on a lot of medication. It still breaks my heart to think of my first time seeing my daughters. It was over 24 hours after they were born that I finally had clearance to go see them. My husband rolled me down to their room in the NICU and I lost it. They were so tiny; tubes and machines were everywhere. I remember the nurse telling me all about what was going on but I couldn’t process anything she said.  I was so overwhelmed and scared. I cried. I reached my hand into their isolettes to touch their tiny little bodies. I couldn’t even hold either one yet.

I am not sure why Madelyn’s isolette is open, but this is our first time touching her.

I honestly don’t remember much about the first week they were in the NICU. I was in the hospital for 5 days after my c-section and I was barely keeping myself together. It is such an emotional time after having a baby anyway, and when you add in medical concerns, it is completely overwhelming. Never once did it occur to me that they might not make it. I always thought they were going to survive.

Because the twins were born 12 weeks early, the doctors and nurses let us know about the long road ahead. We were told to expect setbacks, highs and lows, and the girls to develop at different times. They told us to expect them to be able to go home around their due date, maybe sooner, maybe later (so basically, at any point). In order to come home, the girls had to meet certain criteria that included no longer requiring respiratory support, taking full feeds by bottle or breast and gaining weight, sit in a car seat for 90 minutes without any issues, and going 48 hours without any Brady episodes. It was quite the substantial list, and had nothing to do with weight or gestational age, as I had assumed.

A few days after they were born, we were able to start kangaroo care (skin to skin) with the girls. I took full advantage of every opportunity. The girls did very well with their breathing and moved off of ventilators and C-PAP machines down to the high flow oxygen (the smaller nose piece).

The girls both had jaundice and required phototherapy. I hated it. It was another reminder of how small and fragile they really were. I only saved one picture of them during the therapy.

The girls had PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) lines put in. I couldn’t tell you now much about it, other than it replaced the tubes were originally placed in their stomach (belly buttons maybe?). It was basically a central line for anything they needed. Before the lines were inserted, we signed consent understanding the risks associated, one of which was infection. A few nights after they were in place, we received a phone call from the NICU. When the NICU calls you, it’s never a good thing. Brooklyn had caught an infection. They were going to remove her line and start antibiotics. I was beside myself; I had been there all day and thought she was off. I had mentioned it but nothing was evident at the time. The NICU had told me the worst thing that could happen at that time would be the girls getting an infection because of their size, so we were in a complete panic about what would happen.

Brooklyn had an IV in her hand for the antibiotics. I called it her boxing glove.  She remained on antibiotics for 9 days to ensure the infection was gone.

The girls were wrapped up tight in their isolettes. Premature babies need containment to feel comfort, so they were placed inside a swaddle with a weighted fabric next to their heads and straps across their bodies. The girls LOVED their pacifiers. They are given them to practice the suck, swallow, breathe pattern necessary for feeding. Preemies basically have to learn how to eat- it is not an instinctual action like full term babies.

Two weeks after the girls were born, we finally had our first family picture of the four of us. Since the girls were only allowed out one time per day as long as they were doing well, it was a long time coming for the picture. You can only see the tops of their tiny heads, but this is one of my favorite memories.

Brooklyn reminded me that everything is going to be alright.

The girls were eventually able to be dressed; it is one of the first steps to come out of the isolette into the open crib. The outfits had to have snaps all down the front so the wires could fit through and the outfit could be removed quickly in case of an emergency. The girls were swimming in every outfit, but I loved seeing them dressed!


On the day they turned one month old, my husband and I got to hold the girls at the same time. This was when I realized how crazy it was to have twins and how I’d never have a free hand again. :)

My “Day in the Life” is when the girls are 6 weeks old. The NICU referred to them as 34 weeks corrected. Babies are referred to by how many days they are and what their “corrected” age is (what week you would have been in your pregnancy- a fun reminder of how early the babies arrived).  At this time, the girls are off of assisted breathing machines and are breathing on their own. They still have a feeding tube and are on a heart, respiratory, and blood oxygen monitor. It is very common for premature babies to have “Brady” episodes, in which their heart rates drop drastically after the breathing slows or stops, so the monitor keeps track of all the numbers and alarms when the baby has an episode. 

As with any mom, my days vary greatly. They change drastically during the NICU stay as the babies progress as well. I wake up in the middle of the night every night to pump. Any lactation consultant will tell you that between 12pm-6am are magical hours for optimal pumping. Two weeks post c-section, I started to make the effort to get up, as I gave myself the first two weeks to heal and sleep.

3:32 am: I wake up and head downstairs to pump. (I keep a “pumping station” in the family room, complete with my pump, hands free pumping bra, supplies, and water).  I assemble the pump pieces and make my way to the pumping station.

3:40am: I sit down on the couch and turn on the TV. Project Runway is on! This won’t help me fall asleep quickly when I go back to bed. Pumping begins.

4:00am: pumping is done. I write down the time and my initials on the labels the hospital gives me and put the bottles in the fridge. Tonight I pumped about 5 ounces.

4:05am: I’m back in bed and hoping for a quick time back to sleep.

7:00am: Say goodbye to husband as he heads off to work and I go back to sleep.

9:12am: Time to start the day! I wake up and head downstairs to pump again.

9:15am: Pumping begins. I call the NICU to check in on the girls. (Every morning I see how their night went and let the day nurse know what time I’ll be in. The girls have set feeding times so I call in between those times so the nurse is available. This morning, two different nurses have the girls. I hate when it happens, it makes the day less consistent between the two babies). The nurse for Brooklyn lets me know she’s ready to start breastfeeding. We had been doing non-nutritive feeding (where you pump and then let the baby just get used to being on your breast without transferring milk) for the past few days so I am surprised that she is ready, since the day before another nurse said it would be a few more days before they could try. I tell the hospital I am on my way and that I’ll be there for her next feeding.

9:30am: I wrap up pumping quicker than normal since I will be doing the feeding for Brooklyn at 11am. I label my bottles and pack the cooler of pumped milk.

9:40: Dressed and ready to leave. I grab breakfast to go (yogurt and a banana- I’m not usually this healthy!) and head out.

The drive to the hospital is about 35 minutes. I use this time to make my phone calls. I call my husband to tell him that Brooklyn is going to feed today. I call the church to set up the baptism class we have to take for the girls. I call work to check on my health insurance coverage during my leave.

10:10am: I arrive at the hospital and park. We are given “care partner” badges so we can scan in at the security desk. I head up to the NICU.

10:15am: At the scrub station, scrubbing away all the way to my elbows. There are signs everywhere reminding all visitors of the importance of cleanliness. We don’t allow a lot of visitors for the girls, only family because they are weak and so susceptible to infections. As I’m scrubbing in, one of the dieticians is walking by and stops to talk. She discusses the girls’ feeding amounts (32ml for Madelyn and 34ml for Brooklyn; 30 is an ounce) and tells me she’ll come by the room and show me their growth charts. A family walks by with their baby; they’re leaving the NICU. I try not to be upset that they get to leave and we’re all still here. It doesn’t work; I cry a little.

10:20am: Scrubbing in complete. I walk to the entrance closest to the girls’ room and ring in, confirm I’ve scrubbed in, show my ID bracelets, and head into the NICU.

10:21am: Arrive at the girls’ room. I put down all my bags and say hello and good morning. The girls are in incubators and share a dedicated twin room. Their incubators have covers to protect them from the lights, sounds, and movement around them. Even though peeking in by lifting the cover is frowned upon, I do anyway. They are my babies, and I want to see what they’re doing. Sleeping. Pretty typical for these girls. I wait patiently for either nurse to come in to their room. One of the things I struggled with was having to wait for nurses to tell you it’s ok to hold your baby.

10:35am: Brooklyn’s nurse comes in. We talk for a little about the feeding. She says she’ll be right back because she has to check on her other baby. The nurses typically have 3 babies on their rotation.

10:37am: The dietician comes by and shows me the girls’ growth charts. Brooklyn is the 20-25th percentile for height, weight, and head size; Madelyn is in the 10-15th percentile. She heads out and I sit down again.

10:42am: Brooklyn’s alarm sounds. The real alarm, not the warning one. She’s having a “Brady.” I whip up her cover, open the doors, and pat her. She was turning a little blue. A different nurse comes in because of the alarm. She asks if I had to touch her or if she ‘self-resolved’. She makes a note of it and tells me it’s no big deal. I elect not to smack her; it feels like a big deal to me since my child was just bluish.

The monitor: the green number is the heart rate; the yellow number is the respiratory rate, and the blue number is the blood oxygen level.

10:55am: The doctor comes in to do her daily rounds. She checks both girls and says that they’re doing well. She asks if I have any questions. We discuss recent bloodwork and head ultrasounds. While she is in the room, Brooklyn’s nurse returns. The doctor and nurse discuss the hospital’s new feeding protocol and Brooklyn’s readiness. She scored high enough the past two days that she is given the green light (again) to starting breastfeeding.

11:05am: Brooklyn’s “care time” begins. I check her temperature (97.9, very good) and change her diaper. When they were on oxygen, their diapers had to be weighed. Now that they are off, I just let the nurse know what was in the diaper. 

11:15am: The nurse does Brooklyn’s pre-weight. All the babies who start breastfeeding do a pre and post weight to determine how much they ate. The nurse gives me a nipple shield to assist Brooklyn with feeding since preemies often have trouble latching on correctly. The nurse tells me the proper position to hold Brooklyn and we get the party started.

Preweight for Brooklyn is 2036 grams. She will be weighed again after to see how much she was able to transfer.

11:18am: Brooklyn is starting. She is doing a great job! I’m impressed, although I know very little of what to expect. The nurse says she’ll be back and leaves the room. I guess other moms like privacy; I feel like I’ll take all the help I can get.

11:35am: Madelyn’s nurse comes in the room. She asks me if the loud noise is Brooklyn swallowing. I say yes and she looks impressed. I’m thankful that Brooklyn and I are figuring it out on our own. I make a mental note to chase down the lactation consultant for feedback later.

11:48am: It’s been the designated half hour; Brooklyn is still eating, but the nurse says time is up. Once they eat more than a half hour, they start burning more calories than they are getting, and in the NICU it’s all about minimizing calories lost to maximize weight gain.Brooklyn gets weighed. The nurse turns back to me, looks surprised, and says that she ate 34 grams.  She called it “unprecedented” for a baby’s first time feeding (and that most babies transfer about 10 for the first few feedings). Brooklyn’s normal feed is 32, so she ate more than she normally even gets tube fed. The nurses are abuzz about the news. Must have a been slow day in the rest of the NICU….

I hold Brooklyn for the next hour. I love the one to one bonding time I get with each of the girls, but I hate that I am only holding one while the other is by herself. I can’t see what Madelyn is doing since her cover is down, so I try to focus on Brooklyn. She mostly sleeps while I talk to her about how proud I am of how hard she is working, how strong she is, how much we love her, and how I can’t wait for her to come home.

12:45pm: Break time. I head to the Ronald McDonald Room in the NICU to eat my snack and call my husband to tell him how the feeding went. He’s so excited for Brooklyn and so bummed he is at work and had to miss it. I cannot imagine how it would be if both of us had to be back at work while the girls were in the NICU. I truly feel for those families who cannot see their baby every day.

1:15pm: I pump again. The hospital has a pump in the room for me to use anytime I’m there. I have been given strict directions that even though breast feeding is starting, it is imperative I still pump to keep up my supply.

1:40pm: Pumping is done. I fill out the labels for my bottles for the nurses to scan.

1:45pm: I start Brooklyn’s care- take her temperature and change her diaper. The nurse asks if I want to breastfeed her again. I’m surprised that she is allowed twice in the first day, but I wouldn’t dream of saying no.

2:00pm: Feeding starts. Since I just pumped, I am not sure how much will actually be able to be transferred. Brooklyn is noticeably sleepier this time, but she feeds for about 15 minutes before falling asleep.

2:20pm: The nurse comes in to check on us. I tell her Brooklyn feel asleep; she does her post weight. Brooklyn took 10 grams. I’m so impressed with how well she did with back to back feedings for the first time ever. It’s almost time for Madelyn’s care so I put Brooklyn back in her incubator while the nurse gives her the rest of her feed through her feeding tube.

2:25pm: Madelyn’s nurse comes in and asks if I plan on feeding her. I’m so confused; no one ever said Madelyn was ready. I jump at the chance to give Madelyn an opportunity to feed.  I start Madelyn’s care and can barely contain my excitement.

2:40pm: Time to feed Madelyn. She is rooting and face plants into me. She feeds for about 15 minutes then falls asleep. Breastfeeding for preemies is incredibly laborious. They have to be watched carefully because Brady episodes or choking can happen quickly.

3:00pm: The nurse comes in to check on us. She weighs Madelyn; she took 23 grams.Amazing. The girls are blowing it out of the water for their first time breastfeeding. I hold Madelyn until 4:30. I tell her all the same things I told Brooklyn. She is sleeping, but I talk to her anyway.

4:30pm: Time to put Madelyn back. It is my least favorite part of the day because it means I’m getting ready to leave the girls and won’t see them again until tomorrow.

My sleepy little babies. Their feeding tubes are in their noses.

4:38pm: I start packing up my bags. I clean my pumping supplies and leave them at the hospital. I check the girls’ drawers to make sure they have enough outfits and blankets. I start saying goodbye to the girls. And crying. I cry every time I leave. It is the most heartbreaking part of having babies in the NICU. You know they are in the best care, but it still sucks so much to leave them. Plain and simple. It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different. It starts to feel normal.

4:50pm: I’m attempting to wrap up my goodbyes. I could keep going back and forth between the incubators all night to see what they’re doing. I say bye to the nurses and head to the elevators. I scan my badge on the way out and head to my car. On the way home, I call my husband to tell him about Brooklyn and Madelyn’s feeding.

5:30pm: I arrive home.

5:40pm: Pumping time again. I watch TV and play on my phone.

6:00pm: Pumping is done. I label my bottles and put them in the fridge.

6:15pm: Dinner and time to catch up with the husband. He is in complete shock and awe of how good the girls did with feeding. The next step will be the girls taking bottles if they are awake for the feedings that I am not there.

7:00pm: Time to clean the pumping supplies. I keep all my used ones in a small tub and wash them every night. I have 6 sets, but still feel like I am always washing them. I’m hoping that since breastfeeding is starting, the amount the pump supplies are used will decrease. I have a feeling it will be awhile since the girls don’t transfer enough yet to not have to pump after. It takes me a half hour to wash, dry, and sanitize all the parts.

7:30pm: Shower then TV time.

8:00pm: Pumping time again. I pump for about 25 minutes.

9:15pm: I call the hospital to see how the girls did. They are weighed every night and I am always so excited to hear how much they gained. Brooklyn gained half an ounce and Madelyn had not been weighed yet because tonight they have two different nurses again. I’m hoping tomorrow will be back to one nurse for both again.

9:25pm: My husband and I watch TV and talk about the hospital plan for the following day. He plans to come after work so I will stay for the later feedings.

10:45pm: Last pump of the day. I am trying to get the recommended number in for the day. While I pump, I call the NICU again to see if Madelyn was weighed. The nurse tells me she has not weighed her yet. I’m unhappy and make it known. I miss their primary nurses and hate when they have the day off.

11:15pm: Pumping is done. I have reached 29 ounces for the day. I’m impressed. I’d call today a success. I head to bed and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

During our NICU stay, there were at least 5-6 other sets of twins there. (Triplets were actually born the day before my daughters and the mom was 37 weeks when she delivered! I’m still amazed by her). There were twins that came and left while we were there, and twins that were there long before us and still there when we left.

On Monday 10/6, they told us the girls would be coming home the following day. I ran home from the hospital in a panic to get the house ready – we had just moved in 2 days before! I received a phone call that afternoon letting me know that both girls had Brady episodes and would not be able to come home on Tuesday. We were so upset at the news, but they told us the girls would be good to come home on Wednesday. Unfortunately on Tuesday night, the girls had more Brady episodes while eating and sleeping. We were now holding our breath hoping that Thursday would be the day.

And it was. After 55 long (yet somehow quick) days in the NICU, our girls were finally sent home. On our final day, I cried just as much, if not more, as their first day in the NICU. I am eternally grateful to the entire staff for saving our daughters’ lives.

Saying goodbye to room 35 A-B.

Tucked in their car seats and ready to go!
Brooklyn weighed 5 lbs 1 oz

Madelyn weighed 4 lbs 12 oz

The girls enjoying life at home

Some of the things I learned while in the NICU:

The NICU nurses will literally become your friends. They know your children so well (and in the beginning, it feels like they know them better than you). They know how to take care of your children and will teach you the way that preemie babies need to be handled. They will politely fix your swaddling or diaper job while you’re not looking, all while telling you that you did a great job. (Hey, changing diapers through the arm holes of isolettes isn’t easy!). They listen to you cry, cheer with you when that babies reach milestones, and answer the same questions you keep asking every time you’re there. They know what they’re doing when they tell you don’t worry about the alarms, but it’s still hard to not panic. I learned that unless people are rushing in your room, your baby is ok.

The first few days (or for me, weeks) of the NICU, it’s like they’re all speaking a foreign language. I would nod along like I knew what they were saying, then cry to my husband later and ask him to explain. Our hospital gave us a NICU journal, and it included frequently used terms. I read it and remembered zero of it.

The noises of the NICU. Oh my goodness, the noises. The alarms will haunt your sleep. Everything beeps. Literally every single machine makes a noise, and they all make different noises. You will spend the first few days (or weeks) freaking out about the alarms and monitors. The nurses tell you not to watch the monitors. I watched them compulsively. They will tell you that the alarm that just went off didn’t mean anything, but it still will make your heart stop. Eventually, you catch on to which alarms are no big deal and which ones are. I swear my daughters will be able to sleep through anything after being in the NICU.

Preemies are noisy. Like extra noisy. Way more noisy than full term babies. They grunt and groan all day. They hiccup and sneeze like crazy. They are very easily over stimulated and most of the noises are responses to the overstimulation.

I cried so much. At everything and anything. I cried when I arrived at the NICU and when I had to leave. I cried at home, in the car, at stores, at commercials, at Pinterest posts. I even cried when the food service forgot the ice cream with my apple pie. The pregnancy hormones were out of control and the NICU didn’t help. I didn’t eat, drink, or sleep enough. Anytime someone told me I had to take care of myself, I wanted to smack them. I had babies to take care of and worry about (I was a mom now!)

Which brings me to…. I didn’t feel like a real mom for awhile. I couldn’t hold the girls anytime I wanted. I couldn’t take care of them, feed them, play with them, dress them, kiss them- all things you want to do as a mom. This was one of the hardest parts of a having babies in the NICU. I would rush to go see them and then sit and wait until someone told me what I could do. If the girls weren’t having a good day, they wouldn’t let them out of the isolette because of burning too many calories or risk having episodes. The only way I felt I could help the babies was pumping and kangaroo care. I dedicated myself to pumping as much as possible for them because of the benefits of breastmilk, particularly for premature babies. I would do kangaroo care as much as possible (which was once a day per baby for the majority of their stay), until the nurses said I had to put the girls back.

Since this “day in the life,” the girls have reached their 38 week mark. Both girls are finally over 5 pounds. They have rocked at the breast and bottle feeding, and eat about 3 ounces at each feeding. The last week of the NICU had been one of the most emotional weeks. They have been home with us for two weeks now, and it is everything we had hoped, prayed, and wished for during the 8 weeks in the NICU.

If you have a question for Jackie, CLICK HERE to email her!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Kristy Blouvet

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories in November will be about precious preemies.


If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out our questionnaire!

Kristy Blouvet

Where do you currently live?  Tampa, FL

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bump Day | 35 Week Gallery

  Week 35 Twin Bump Pictures

Twins' Birthday:  5.25.14
Born at 35 weeks, 2 days
Michael Zachary:  6.7 lbs
Benjamin Samuel: 5.14 lbs | 19.5 in

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bringing Your Preemies Home From the NICU

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories as well as the majority of Twin Talk posts in November will be about precious preemies.


Hi Everyone!

My name is Mary Kate, and my husband, Andrew and I are the proud parents to identical twin daughters. We found out on July 3, 2013, that our babies were indeed mono-amniotic twins. Since "mono-mono" twins are extremely rare, they are considered to be extremely high risk. I switched my prenatal care over to a high-risk specialist, and received weekly ultrasounds until I was admitted for constant monitoring at 26 weeks. Despite four false alarms, the girls made their way into this world via emergency C-section on November 11, 2013, at 29 weeks and 3 days. Leah Katherine was born at 2 lbs. 13 oz. and 15.5 inches, and Amelia Grace was born at 3 lbs. 3 oz. and 16 inches!

Throughout my pregnancy, we were given a lot of information regarding prematurity and NICU experiences. When I was admitted to UNC Chapel Hill we toured the Newborn Critical Care Center, spoke with parents of preemies, but no amount of preparation can truly prepare you to see your own baby among all the tubes, wires, and machinery. You can read more about our NICU experience in detail here, but we spent 98 days by our girls’ bedside. After one heart surgery, seven blood transfusions, two months of breathing assistance, countless hours of testing and monitoring, five restarts of an apnea countdown, we were finally able to bring our babies HOME!

We said good-bye to the doctors and nurses who had turned into family, showed our babies off to the security personnel who greeted us every day, and we left the place that had been our home for the past four months. I was elated, but slightly terrified at the same time. For three months, we grew accustom to having experienced nurses by our side and monitors that gave us the girls' heartbeats and breaths per minute. The past four months of our lives had been anything but normal, so to simply go back to normal life wasn't easy.

So, today I wanted to share with you a little tidbit of what I have learned since bringing our preemies home from the NICU.

1. You'll Find Normal Again... One Day.

Nothing about our pregnancy, delivery, or the first three months of the girls' life was "normal." We brought our girls home in the middle of Cold/ RSV/ Flu season, therefore, our home became extremely limited to visitors. The girls were almost six months old before they met some of our friends and family! When you arrive home from the NICU no matter the duration of stay or severity of the situation, you have to be your child's advocate. Thus, setting boundaries where boundaries need to be set. For example, we didn't take our girls out in public until the end of April. We only allowed immediate family to visit our home, and don't get me started on my sanitizing craze. We seriously could take stock in Lysol and Purell! In those first few months home, please know that you'll get to "normal" again one day. The day will come when you can openly allow friends and family into your home without any fear, take your children to the park, restaurants, or even to the grocery store (if you are really brave!), and take the can of Lysol out of your purse. Yes, I am guilty as charged with carrying a concealed can of Lysol. I don't know if you'd consider our family normal, we are pretty crazy, but we are as close to normal as normal can be now and it feels great!

2. Don't Compare.

This one is a doozy! I can't even begin to tell you all how many times I have caught myself in comparing my girls to other babies, comparing myself as a mother, and even comparing my girls to each other. At three months old, our girls were still the size of an average newborn. For preemies, age adjustment can be a real challenge. I can't pin a developmental post on Pinterest or read a child development book without having to adjust Amelia and Leah's age to where they should be. For example, although they are one (today!), they are doing the things a 9.5 month old should be doing. So, I have to stop myself at seeing what full-term one-year-old babies are doing and comparing. Instead, I allow myself to think of everything that they have overcome in the span of their short life. Despite being so tiny and helpless, preemies are so incredibly strong. As their mothers, we have to remember that and be so thankful for our miracles.

3. Patience is a Virtue.

I have to constantly remind myself of this! Along with adjusting age and developmental tracks, comes a lot of patience. I am definitely Type A, basically... I am your typical control freak. In the NICU, you can't be a control freak because everything is out of your control. Ironically, our NICU experience helped me become more laid back and have more patience when it comes to things that are out of my control. While I work with the girls every day at gross and fine motor skills, language development, etc., I have to keep my patience as it takes them a little while longer to grasp new things. For example, they have yet to hold their own bottles or sip through a sippy cup. Amelia is our diva and has no desire to pick up food by herself, she's perfectly content with someone else feeding her! But, I turn these challenges into a positive by having the opportunity to keep my babies, babies a little while longer! The day will come when they start singing, i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t, but for now I am happy to be their d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t.

4. In One Ear and Out The Other.

As a "people pleaser" I have never been very good at taking the advice, "Let it go in one ear and out the other," very seriously. I take the words seriously. I take the opinions to heart. I over analyze what people say, but I have learned how to be susceptible to this vital piece of advice. There will be people that don't show you grace. There will be people who condemn you for keeping your babies in isolation. There will be people who don't understand why you carry Lysol in your purse and have 50,000 containers of hand sanitizer. There will be people who share their opinions of what is best for your children. As a mother of twins, I don't have the time to focus on what others are saying much less wash my hair for the day. Therefore, take everything you hear with a grain of salt. It's not the easiest thing to do, but for your sanity (and your husband's!) it must be done.

5. LOVE.

I think it goes without saying that we love those little voices that say "ma-ma" in the wee hours of the morning to wake us up for the day. When we first brought the girls home, I tried to make up for the three months I had not had them at home. I was running all of us ragged each and every day. Our children, preemie or full-term, just desire nourishment, care, and love. For a while, I went through an indescribable sense of guilt that I wasn't the sole caregiver for my babies. Despite that feeling, I could give my babies something that the nurses or doctors couldn't give to them among the tubes, wires, and machines, and that was a mother's love. In our NICU journey, there are two families we became friends with that have to live life without their babies today. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about those two mothers. I remind myself how blessed I am to have a to-do list I fail everyday to complete. In the time I should be spending folding clothes, unloading dishes, cleaning, or dusting, I am singing songs. I am playing peek-a-boo. I am changing diapers. I am reading books. I am constantly hiding things and keeping their paths clear. I am watching my step. I am making bottles. I am fixing them something to eat. I am kissing boo boos when they fall down. I am snuggling. I am strolling. I am capturing the moments. I am being a mother, and that is my greatest gift. Even though my entry into motherhood wasn't normal and began with a lot of uncertainty, pain, and challenges, the journey has been so worthwhile.



Each child is a gift and a miracle, no matter the circumstances. As for us moms? We are all strong. We are all brave. And, despite our different experiences we are one in the same. We are mothers. We love day in and day out the gifts and miracles we have each received.

Mary Kate's Blog: Simply Divine

If you have a question for Mary Kate or simply want to wish her sweet girls a Happy FIRST Birthday, CLICK HERE to email her!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Lacy Rohre

November is Prematurity Awareness Month.  You can read more about it here.   In observation of this, all twin birth stories in November will be about precious preemies.


If you'd like to contribute your own twin birth story, CLICK HERE to fill out our questionnaire!

Lacy Rohre

Where do you currently live?  Georgetown, Texas

Wednesday, November 5, 2014