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Coming Home from the NICU

By Jeff Ewing, author of Preemie Chronicles - Our NICU Experience

A father shares his joys and fears when bringing preemie twins home from the NICU.

Right after the boys were born and Regina was well enough, we left the hospital empty handed. It was a very odd, empty, anti-climatic kind of feeling. We had just been through all the excitement of the pregnancy. Friends and relatives had showered us with gifts. The grandparents-to-be were already bragging and buying things to spoil my kids. The name war had already produced some legendary battles and we had decorated the "used-to-be-my-office-until-it-became-a-nursery" room. All of this excitement and emotion was ultimately stifled by this premature birth. Leaving he hospital that first day without our babies was probably the emptiest feeling I have ever experienced.

Now, in contrast, the day to take them home has arrived. Although Nicholas would remain in the hospital for several more days, we would be able to take Jacob with us on this wonderful day. How3ever, the strangest thing happened. Although we had hoped and prayed for this day to arrive, I could not escape this overwhelming feeling of "What the Hell do we do now?"

For 96 days we were mostly observers. Now, we become the primary care givers … for life! We do every feeding. We change every diaper. We clean up all the puke. We freak out every time the monitor goes off. We are parents. Was I supposed to be preparing for this all this time? Wasn't there some kind of certification test I should've taken to see if I am ready? God help us.

So, the nurse bring Jacob out to the car and we get him situated in the fancy new car seat we purchased (mmm… new car seat smell). Regina and I are extremely excited at this point. As the nurses walk back to the hospital, I start the car and we look at each other. Our faces show smiles of terror as we look back at this small, helpless person in the back seat. We simultaneously say, "What the hell do we do now?"

I don't think I ever drove so correctly in my entire life. I adjusted all the mirrors, I drove the speed limit and I even came to complete stops at intersections. Yes, sire, I was Mr. Safety.

Once we arrived at the house, Regina and I discovered just how cumbersome those monitors could be. IF they can put a TV camera in fountain pen, you'd think could make a smaller heart monitor. But, they didn't at the time. After Nicholas came home, we really got loaded down. Now we had 2 babies, 2 monitors and one very large diaper bag filled with bottles, formula, diapers, towels, medications, toys, etc. I soon canceled my gym membership. This was plenty of workout for me.

Copyright 2008 Jeff Ewing

Jeff Ewing is the father of twin boys, and the author of Preemie Chronicles - Our NICU Experience. This is excerpt is reprinted with his permission.

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