...One baby left in the NICU! We are missing Baby Charlie these days, but happy that Claire and Dillon have joined us at home.
Every day at the NICU Charlie and I are always asking, "Who do you think will come home next?" or "When will the next baby be discharged?" The nurses are obviously well-trained in deflecting those types of questions, not wanting to get your hopes up.
As our neonatologist explained it to us, preemies born at 34 weeks are particularly "interesting" because some will "act premature" whereas others won't. Henry was the type of 34-week preemie who didn't get the memo that he was premature. He was out of the NICU two and a half weeks after birth and acts like a normal newborn with us at home.
His three siblings however, didn't seem to be in such a rush. Preemie babies don't have the brain development skills to always coordinate their eating and breathing. Charlie, Claire and Dillon were continuing to have "events" where they would have disruptions in breathing or heart-rate...to the point where the nurses would need to "stimulate" the baby to get them going again. (FYI: to a parent, "stimulate" looked an awful lot like "shake" - but whatever it takes to get your baby to breathe again I guess is ok!)
Each "event" in the NICU buys the baby 5 more days before discharge. Charlie, Claire and Dillon were going back and forth having 5-day events, which made it seem like they would never get to come home.
One of our favorite nurses at the NICU sent us this picture of the last night before Dillon went home. The babies are having a slumber party and you can see Dillon with his eyes open, scheming how he's going to get out of this place!
So, eventually this week, Dillon and Claire put it all together, stopped having events, and both were discharged, Dillon on Tuesday and Claire on Thursday. For all of the waiting and hoping that your babies can come home soon, it's pretty exciting to have the doctor call you and basically say, "Come take this baby home!"
Another one of our favorite nurses Kate did Dillon's discharge, leaving us with very sage advice from her 26 years as a NICU nurse, "It's not that hard guys - when the baby's wet, you change it...when the baby's hungry, you feed it...when the baby cries, you hold it. You're going to be fine!"
We took Dillon right from the hospital to the pediatrician to sneak him in to Henry's appointment and kill two birds with one stone by not having to go back to the doctor's office the following day. We've only had 5 kids for less than 1 month - but Charlie and I have quickly learned that the more you can consolidate anything...the more you can sleep!
Thankfully NICU babies come home on a pretty tight schedule. So far everyone gets hungry about every 4 hours and so we try to organize their feeds at 12am, 4am, 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm. It's amazing how quickly newborns can go from so stinking cute and quiet to screaming their hungry heads off!
This week the babies also got to meet their Uncle Chris, Charlie's brother, who came in from Texas and Charlie's cousin's Allie and Liz. Everyone came to hold babies in the NICU and we even figured out how to manage bringing back the discharged siblings to see the ones still incarcerated in the hospital cribs.
Having 3 babies at home has been fun - but we are eager to get Baby Charlie back with the bunch. Molly seems to like the new additions and she tries to help put the babies' hats on, put their pacifiers in (sometimes in their eyes not their mouths...) and she's really into patting them on the back when they need to burp.
And how is dad doing? It turns out Big Charlie is truly gifted at babysitting with multiple kids asleep on him. (But as we have learned from Uncle Dave O'Connor...it's not called babysitting if you're watching your own kids.)