Recently, I’ve come across many parents with preemie twins. Because those first few days after birth are the absolute foundation of a human being’s life, you must pay attention to a few critical things if your babies are spending time in NICU. You cannot be a perfect parent your whole life, or even most of the time. But if there is a time you need to give all you’ve got to your babies, those first few days and weeks is the time.
- Twins need each other as much as they need their mother. Do not let them be separated into different rooms or hospitals. If it is an absolute emergency situation and there is nothing the hospital can do but to separate them, do everything in your power to minimize the number of hours they are apart. Every minute counts. If they are kept in separate incubators, see if you can talk to the nurses about putting them together, at least some of the time. If this not possible, when you are around, take them out together and hold them at the same time. They need to be spend time next to each other, feeling each other’s presence. One of my favorite stories of all time is of a dying preemie who was placed in the same incubator as her twin sister for the first time, and literally came back to life the next morning. It only makes sense, they are twins. They were conceived together. Inutero scans show twins interacting with each other in the womb. All they know is each other. They are meant to stay together.
- Your preemies need as much skin-to-skin time as possible. There will be some nurses who will encourage this and others who will thinks it disturbs their peace. Overall, skin-to-skin is not at the top of most hospital’s priority list, though they don’t necessarily oppose it either. They’re generally lukewarm about the concept. So make sure your voice is heard – tell the nurses you want to do skin-to-skin as much as possible. I can’t emphasize how important this is. The research on the benefits are many, varied and proven around the world. In fact I recommend as much skin-to-skin as possible during the first three months. I remember lying naked in bed with my girls on top of my chest for 2-3 hours a day in the beginning. We ate, slept, played – it was dreamy. Preemies need at least that everyday.
- Take turns with your partner to spend at least 10-15 hours a day in the hospital with your babies. Hospitals – with their endless rounds of nurses, doctors, equipment and everything your babies seem to need – can make you feel you are extraneous or unnecessary. You may think: my babies are totally taken care of here, what do they need me for? You couldn’t be more wrong. Your babies need YOU. They have been living inside your body, they know your heart rate and the rhythm of your breath. Your body temperatures are synced up together. They know the sound, rhythm and cadence of your voice. In fact, you have been their whole world up to this point. To get thrown into an environment that is completely unfamiliar is extremely stressful for your babies. You are their lighthouse on the dark sea. You are the light they recognize; to feel your presence gives them a huge sense of security. Do not, for one second, think that the most experienced hospital nurses can replace your presence, voice and touch. Your babies need you. Spend as much of your waking hours as possible with them at the hospital. But, of course, take breaks, eat well, sleep a lot and recuperate your strength for when they come home!
- Talk to your babies. Talk to them like you would to another human being. You may feel silly, but don’t. They may not understand every word, but they understand intention better than anyone. A mother’s intention for her babies literally shapes them. Set your intentions straight. Tell your babies you want them to gain weight, get off the respirator, feed on their own, stabilize their temperature, or whatever it is. Tell them that you want them out of the hospital and back home ASAP. Tell them what you want. Then tell them how happy you are they have come into your life and re-emphasize how much you want them to come home. Talk to them everyday, several times a day. They will respond. Just watch.
- Lastly, work closely with your doctors to monitor your babies’ growth. Of course your doctor’s advice is very valuable, so work with them!
Now go bring your babies home! And get in touch with me if you need anything: firstname.lastname@example.org