By Summer Mobley
The hospital the triplets were born at didn’t have private rooms in the NICU when we were there. Instead, they had multiple bays or pods.
Imagine a rectangle & around the edges of the rectangle were isolettes (or bassinets or cribs depending on the baby in each station). There were approximately 10-15 babies in each pod. Down the center of the rectangle were sinks for handwashing & computer stations for the nurses. I’m sure there were other things down the center, but frankly, I wasn’t paying attention to those details.
When a baby is admitted to the NICU, it was protocol that only one baby could be admitted to a specific pod at a time. Which meant the triplets were each taken by their respective receiving teams to three different pods.
What this meant for us, was that each time we visited the kids, we’d have three stops to make. Or when we called from home to check on them, we’d have to make separate calls to each pod & each nurse.
It wasn’t like there was a mile in between them - they were essentially 50 feet from each other an&d through another set of double doors, but they were still separated. And thank God for my husband, because I was in such a fog the first few days, I couldn’t remember who was where or how to get there.
After I was discharged, & we would go to the NICU, we’d have to pick who to see first – Baby A (Xander), Baby B (Ellyse) or Baby C (Isabella). We’d arrive to the NICU, wash our hands & arms, put our cell phones in plastic bags & call their nurse to make sure it was ok for us to come back. Because they weren’t in private rooms & we shared a large space with many other babies & their families, if one baby in our pod was going through a sterile procedure at the time, we would be told “No, I’m sorry, you cannot see your baby at this time.” And so we’d wait. Or we’d move down the list to the next baby & pray that we could see one of them. Sometimes, it made me so mad knowing I had to ask for permission to visit my kids & mad that someone else was essentially in charge of the well-being of my children. Most of the time, this wasn’t an issue. And even in my anger, I was and still am SOOOOOO grateful that our kids were under such great, safe care.
The triplets were born at 1:27am and 1:30am. Xander was born 1st, Ellyse 2nd and Isabella 3rd. Izzy and Elly were born in the same minute, practically together, but Elly’s feet came out just before Isabella, so she is considered 2nd born of the trio.
It was so hard to follow anything that was happening in the Delivery Room that night.
Ray counted 22 people in the room with us. Each baby had a team of 4 or 5 people with them (their receiving team). The team consisted of a NICU doctor, a nurse, a respiratory specialist and a neonatal specialist. There were two anesthesiologists for me, my two doctors, a slew of other nurses and I’m sure I’m missing someone of importance.
After they were born, their respective teams did the norm – weighed them, took measurements, took that “first” picture, the nurses held the girls next to me, so I could see them and then whisked them away. Ray followed the girls down to the NICU because he had a bunch of paperwork to sign.
Xander stayed in the OR for a long time after the girls left and I realized the next day that I never got to see him before he went to the NICU. You see, Xander was born not breathing and it took his team an extended amount of time to stabilize him enough to go to the NICU. Ray and I recall knowing this, but we were told so much information those first few days, it was impossible to keep any of it straight.
Xander was in the NICU for 2.5 months. After discharge, I read his paperwork over and over and over again and it wasn’t until right after he turned two years old, that I noticed something. Xander had been intubated while in the Delivery Room. So, I dug further into his charts and discovered that he had been resuscitated three times while in the delivery room. To tell you how shocked I was when reading that is an understatement. I still get emotional thinking about how close we were to losing him and we didn’t even know it.
Xander had a much harder NICU Journey than my girls did. But if you saw him (or heard him) now, you’d never know it. He has an ear-piercing scream that is a constant reminder that his lungs work and work well. 😊
After the triplets were born, I wasn’t able to go see them right away.
I spent a few hours I recovery, then back to my L&D room, before I was transferred back to the High-Risk floor. It was at least 16 hours after delivery before Ray could wheel me to the NICU. he had already been a few times and was well versed at the routine and protocol.
We planned to see Xander first, so when we arrived at the NICU, we checked in at the desk, put our cell phones in plastic Ziploc bags, washed our hands and arms up to our elbows, called our nurse and headed back. When I got to Xander’s isolette, I was so taken back by his size, by the wires connected to him, by the CPAP mask on his face, by the noises the monitors made as his heart rate rose or dropped or his respiratory rate went crazy. It was so overwhelming.
Somehow, I was keeping it together. Until a woman walked by. Her name was Tara Irvine. We had never met before, but we knew each other’s names because we were part of a Mom’s of Multiples (MOM) group where we lived. MOM’s are band together in a way that I cannot explain.
Tara walked by and recognized my name. She introduced herself and gave me a hug. When I saw the badge she was wearing, I instantly knew who she was. It was at that moment that melted from the emotion of what was going on. Being known by someone who had walked thru what we were walking through meant so much to me that day. I don't recall seeing Tara again after that day and our triplets were transferred to a different hospital 10 days later.
Tara was a NICU Volunteer and it was my first time encountering someone who did this. But it wasn’t my last.
There were volunteers throughout our journey who held our babies when we couldn’t be there; who brought me water while I was doing skin to skin; who sat and talked to me like we were old friends; who sang to my son in the evenings when he was most uncomfortable. I am not sure the volunteers we encountered will ever know how much the giving of their time meant to our family.
Because of the impact the NICU (our nurses, admin staff, doctors, specialists, volunteers, lactation consultants) had on my family's life, I now volunteer at our local NICU.
If you are a volunteer, or have ever volunteered, anywhere for any reason...Thank You. Thank you for loving on others.