Our two weeks in the NICU really were a cakewalk compared to a lot of people's experiences. I can't state enough how grateful we are that things went so well for us on our journey to Tripletville. The babies did well in the NICU, and H and I benefited from our time there in that we were able to learn from the nurses and we were able to become comfortable and confident with our babies in a supported setting.
I do have memories from those two weeks of feeling very overwhelmed at times. Once was when the babies first started having apneic episodes. We had been told for so long how great everything was, how long I had carried them, how big they were for triplets. I had been scared for so long--since the ultrasound that showed us three heartbeats. I was starting to believe what all the nurses and doctors were saying. And what they were saying was true. It just didn't negate us having any issues.
An experience I won't forget is one day when the babies were about four of five days old. It was around noon. We were still in the main NICU in the last pod. I had been holding Lucia and talking and singing with her for probably 20 or 30 minutes. I was well accustomed to watching their heart rate and respiration monitors. The nurses were teaching me to not only look at the monitors but the entire picture of what was going on. Lucia and I were having a wonderful visit when her respiration rate began dropping, signaling her monitor to alarm. When I looked down at my baby she was blue around the mouth. Normally I'm a very "I don't want to bother you" kind of communicator, but I quickly summons our nurse to end her phone call and come help me. She very kindly praised me for cuing into my baby and explained that Lucia was just being overstimulated and needed to rest. Amber, the nurse, quickly wrapped Lucia up tight in her blanket and put her back in her isolet and her respiration rate immediately began to rise into the normal range.
While this experience scared me, it also made me protective of our babies, ensuring that when they came home they would have a calm and serene environment. The first month or so we always spoke and sang quietly in the nursery. If we had loud visitors we would purposefully lower the volume of our voices to hint that they didn't have to speak so loudly. Playing classical music in the nursery is something I have always wanted to do, but we did not start this until they were about five months old.
I was reminded of this experience last night when I was skimming through cyberspace during my nighttime pumping session. The New York Times had an article about lighting and sound systems for NICUs developed by the father of a preemie who was a car mechanic by trade. The author explains why premature babies do not handle light and sound well. The article also ends with a tenet that can also be applied to all of life and not just the NICU: don't fuss with what you can't control; tinker with what you can control.