Leaving Hospital with a Premmie (or two).
When you are pregnant, you normally anticipate things will go a certain way; maybe the way previous pregnancies have gone, or maybe better! Some people expect particular hiccups because of their medical history and so on.
For me, I expected two things. Literally, I expected two babies, because I was pregnant with twins, and secondly, I expected to need to fight hospital policy. I think every IRONY light in heaven and earth was flashing, when at 34 weeks, I sent my husband and son to Adelaide for some follow up medical visits, and my daughter went to visit a girlfriend for the morning. Ah, peace… I remember I was going to rest that day; I was going to read, and I was going to spend some time at peace. Just as soon as my midwives visited and left. Except things didn’t quite work out that way. My midwives walked in, said “ooh, you don’t look very good” (which is what every 34-week-pregnant-with-twins woman wants to hear) and “go pee on this!” Having experience peeing on sticks, I did as I was told. It was more fun finding out I was pregnant than it was finding out I had protein out of the stratosphere. Blah. Add the revolting oedema that made my ankles practically slosh, and the blood pressure paralleled only by a job interview for a position you really want, and there I was, at home, my family elsewhere, being told to pack and bag and go to the hospital.
So, all the fight out of my sails, that’s how I was going to end this pregnancy. A premature Caesar at 34 weeks. Perhaps you’re pregnant as you read this. Listen, when you’re done, spend a few minutes looking into what you want to do if your baby is born early and needs to go to special care. I had done a little bit of reading, but there was so much I didn’t know until well after we all came home. I’ll say from the outset – we all make it home safely.
The birth story is pretty good, and the way my friends helped look after my two big kids was just fantastic, but this blog post is really about getting out of the special care nursery (hereafter, SCN). You may have read my earlier post about baby wearing in the nursery… if not, check out LINK. Being in the SCN was awful – fine for a day or so, but after that, really tedious. Every nurse had a different opinion on everything, from sibling visits to bathing to feeding to formula. If you are ever in the same situation, it would help to know what you think about all these things. For us, we just flew by the seat of our pants as we worked on getting the babies from 1700g and 2200g to the acceptable-but-arbitrary-weight-required-to-go-home.
Finally, our featherweight baby girl hit 2200g. We’d been in the nursery for a life time, but on day 20, we were finally able to fly the coop! We had the two car capsules installed, and like all parents of newborns, we did the strange journey from the maternity area to the car park.
However, we did it a little differently to most parents. I slipped my ring sling – just the one – over my shoulder, and settled their tiny 2700g and 2200g bodies on my chest. I settled them in tummy-to-tummy (theirs to mine) and side by side (one another) as I had so many times for cuddles, and we waited for an ice age for the doctors to officially say “go on, get out!” and then we stood up, and walked out the door.
We knew a bit about how we wanted to parent; we have two older children and had been working on refining our beliefs and practises for a while. While the babies really were small, they were also healthy and strong. We saw no reason not to use carriers, and saw a lot of good reasons why we should.
- Kangaroo care has been shown to benefit premature babies
- Keeping the newborns close allowed us to continue being involved with our older kids activities- and our own
- Wearing the newborns meant we could respond to their needs more quickly
- Wearing the newborns meant my precious, residual, often depleted energy was conserved by not having to get up and down to them constantly
If you have a premature – or even small-for-dates baby – unless you are given a solid medical reason not to, baby wearing is going to help you. Unless there’s a medical reason not to, baby wearing is going to be beneficial to your baby/babies. Whether your premmie (or preemie – both are used) is your first child or your tenth, you are going to want them to feel settled, calm, peaceful and secure. Keeping them close to your heart is going to do this. You might choose not to socialise – especially out of the home – for longer because of immunity concerns; you may be recovering from major surgery and not as mobile as you normally were; you may have had weeks in special care where you had every last drop of self-assurance and strength removed from your body, but there comes a point where you are free to make the parenting choices you believe to be right. Go for it!
A premature baby can be worn in a soft sling or a soft wrap. My own experience has been that a mei tai is too large and a soft structured carrier is too inflexible, but you may have a different experience. Do join the Baby Carriers Downunder forum if you haven’t already – people are always willing to share their experiences and help you find your way on this parenting path.
I don’t think these photos are particularly flattering to me – but here you go: Ruby leaving the hospital with the twins at 20 days.
Have you left hospital with a special care baby? A premmie (or two)? Another baby who had a special care start to the world? How did you find it? Did you wear your special care baby? Leave a comment and let us know!