Your heart will break when you get released from hospital before them. But know that this is where they’re supposed to be for now.
Twin moms reveal their top tips for getting through time in the NICU.
1. Remember it’s OK to say no
Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors if it gets too much. People will understand, and if they don’t, remind yourself that it’s not about them. It’s about you and your family.
2. Remember they are in the best place for them right now
Leaving your babies will be heartbreaking, but try to remember that they are in capable hands. They are being looked after 24/7.
3. It’s not your fault
You didn’t do this to them. They need a little extra time before they’re ready for the world, and that is perfectly OK. You are not a bad mom.
4. Take a tour of the NICU
There’s no denying that the NICU can be an intimidating place. Remember that the nurses do want you there and they want you to help. Ask them for a tour if possible; it helps to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and to know what to expect.
5. Buy a good hand cream
Washing your hands 20 times a day will eventually dry out your skin and is likely to hurt.
6. Visit as often as you are able
Don’t compare yourself to other NICU parents. Do what works for you. It’s OK not to stay all day – you need your rest, too. Find out when they do baths, diapers, and feedings so you can be there for the important stuff.
7. Let go of the guilt
Don’t feel guilty for taking the night off to sleep. Your babies need you to rest and recover for when they come home. Visit anytime you want, but don’t forget you’re recovering too. It’s OK if you miss a feeding.
8. Skin to skin
Don’t be afraid of the wires – hold your baby as much as you can. Remember that they’re your babies, so don’t feel like you have to ask permission to hold or be with them (within reason).
9. Buy treats for the nurses
NICU nurses are truly angels. Gifts in the form of food are a great way to say thank you!
10. Take pictures
Take all the pictures you can to remind yourself and them of their strength.
11. Surround yourself with positive people
Connect with other NICU families, join a support group, or attend mom socials to help you get through the tough parts.
12. Take advantage of this time
NICU time is the perfect opportunity to get your babies on a schedule before they come home. Also use this time as a chance for you to help heal yourself. If a nurse offers to change or feed them, LET THEM. Take the night off and sleep!
13. Pick a hospital nearby
You’ll appreciate having short journeys to visit them after you’re released.
14. Ask questions
Be present when doctors are making their rounds and don’t be afraid to ask any questions. Become friends with the nurses and learn as much as you can from them. Believe in your team, but also express your concerns and be your babies’ advocate.
15. Get pumping ASAP
Your babies probably won’t be able to breastfeed, so be prepared to get pumping. Hot packs are your friend!
16. Don’t forget about self-care
It’s easy to forget about yourself when your babies are in the NICU. Making time for self-care is so important. Take it one day at a time, eat well and sleep as much as you can. Remember that it’s OK to cry. You have been and are going through a lot. Let it out if you need to. Look after your physical and mental health – it’ll help in the long-run.
17. Don’t compare your twins’ progress
They are individuals. Don’t be disheartened if one is progressing quicker than the other – it’s totally normal. In the event that one goes home first, find out if you can bring the other baby in to visit. In some circumstances, you may not be allowed to, so request help from family and friends to make life as easy as possible.
18. Take photos
Take as many photos as possible with you in them – even if you don’t feel you look your best. Both you and your children will cherish these photos later on.
19. Celebrate the small victories
Take it one day at a time and it becomes much more manageable.
20. They’ll be home soon
It will go faster than you think. Soon your babies will be home and thriving, and you’ll forget about the NICU. Try to stay strong; it’s not forever – it just takes a little longer.
“Always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”-A. A. Milne