Today (Sunday June 28th, 2009) was Homecoming Day for Spencer and Gordon! At 3 weeks 3 days old, Gordon is weighing 5 lbs and Spencer 4 lbs 8 oz.
For weeks I’ve walked past the boys’ bedroom, looked at their empty cribs, and wondered with admitted anxiety what it will be like when they are home.
Now they are here. Parents, sisters and baby boys doing better than I had thought. Ironically, both Doug and I feel a sense of relief that the boys are home. There has been a notable feeling of peace here today. (Granted. We haven’t been up all night yet for feedings.) But it feels so right and good to have all of us together – finally.
Doing “twins twice” does come with some benefits. Less worry, smaller learning curve, more confidence, and an abundance of gratitude. We hadn’t expected this two-in-one package, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything.
It was a surprise yesterday to walk into the NICU and greet the Nurse Practitioner who informed me we would take the boys home…”tomorrow!”
Tomorrow? I thought. Yikes! Really?? We were planning on discharge sometime during the week – not the weekend. Sunday was sooner than expected. But after a little paradigm shifting, emotional rallying, and a stop at Target and Babies R Us, we were pretty much ready.
There was talk of taking Gordy home Saturday, but thanks to our nurse, Melissa, who fought for the “Arveseth Mom who probably isn’t planning on taking a baby home today,” we were able to leave Gordon until Sunday so they could “monitor his weight and sodium levels.” This meant he could come home with “big” brother. Thank you Melissa!
Two days ago Gordon was weaned off the oxygen. Spencer, however, had a harder time. Without a scant whiff of O2, his oxygen saturation continued to yo-yo up and down and he had a few episodes of bradycardia. So the green light to take Spencer home came with one stipulation. Oxygen. The whole set-up is a bit cumbersome – but tubes, tanks, monitors, and all – we are glad to have both boys HOME! Above, Spencer (right), Gordon (left).
A week ago Monday we brought the girls to a Sibling Class offered by the NICU for brothers and sisters of NICU babies. It was great. The girls sucked apple juice down through feeding tubes, handled baby dolls hooked up to leads, oxygen, and pulse oximeters, put their hands into the isolette windows, had their pictures taken (which the parent support group taped to each boys’ crib – see pic above), and left with a bag of hospital goodies (from toothbrushes to baby lotion) complete with a gigantic pink sugar cookie which didn’t even make it to the parking lot. The girls were happy campers!
Thursday night I tried breast feeding both babies tandem (at the same time). I did this with Ali and Sami, determined to be more efficient with feedings. My first attempt with Gordon and Spencer was a flop. I didn’t have the sturdy nursing pillow – sure to appear in pictures at some point. You can’t miss it for its bright decorative kitties on blue print. The Mom who gave it to me (since I mailed our plain blue pillow to a friend in Texas) said “Burn it when you’re done. I never want to see it again!” It is pretty hideous. But! It did the trick.
Friday, with the help of lactation, we did it. I had both babies feeding at the same time. (Don’t imagine too hard what this must look like. I won’t be posting any pictures. At a glance it IS shocking and could easily be deemed circus-worthy.) But I was encouraged. We made it work. And the boys did great. All three of us need practice but I am able to do half bottle feeds, half breast feeds now. We’ll see how things progress.
After our successful tandem feed the boys were awake and I wanted to hold both of them. So I found a nurse to help me get them situated on my lap with pillows and blankets. She turned the lights down and left us alone for a while. There I sat with my two new baby boys snuggled up against my face and chin, perfectly comfortable. It was the first time I’d held them together, alone. The first time I’d seen their little faces without tubes in their noses.
While they fell asleep in my arms, I wanted to whisper something meaningful to them. Say something they might hear and understand. But the feeling of love and reverence was so strong I just sat there, silent. Grateful. Not wanting to dissipate the delicate moment with my inadequate words.
Before the nurse left us, she took this picture (above). It is the first time we’ve been able to capture how identical the boys really are. Aren’t they cute?
Eliza, Ali and Sami welcomed the boys home with unexpected and unsolicited tenderness. I wasn’t sure how this part would go but they were SO excited to see their new baby brothers. They kept clamoring into the garage before we had a chance to bring the boys inside. Finally, we convinced the girls to wait in the living room so we could bring the boys to them. Carefully and quietly, they knelt around their brothers. They are gathered around Gordon above.
Look at the adoration on Ali’s face. The first thing she said was, “Oh… look at the tiny, tiny baby! He’s so tiny!” She whispered and put her hands close together to show how small he is. Eliza bent over and lovingly said, “Welcome to our family Spencer. I love you Spencer.” She was actually talking to Gordon when she said this, but we’ll work on identification later. The moment was too sweet to be interrupted. Sami said, “I luf you Gordon. That my baby brother.” It was precious to watch. “May I touch his head Mommy?” asked Eliza. “May I touch his hands?” Enamored. The girls were completely enamored.
As we tucked the boys into their beds, each big sister took turns placing their “animals” around them. They were placed, replaced and placed again, as each of the girls ceremoniously did her part to make little brother comfortable. They blew kisses and whispered good night as Doug walked them out the door.
So the days of confinement have begun. Historically, women enter their “days of confinement” during childbirth. For me, those days come after the birth and they seem to last a long while! We were counseled emphatically to “stay home” for 2-3 months. No public places for the boys. But it might take us until September to figure out how to get five car seats into the Odyssey anyhow!
So I am alright with slowing down, not showering, and getting up every three hours in the night. And I will continue to write about it, because if I don’t, I’m afraid this next year will be nothing but a blur. I want to remember. I want to leave something for my children to read. Sorry dishes, toys, and laundry – you will have to wait while I write.
Last night as I listened to the boys’ grandfathers speak about the future and what lies in store for Spence and Gordy, I was moved by a sense of power and promise. What will they do? Who will they become? Coming home is just the first step. Now they can begin their life, their mission, whatever is meant for them to accomplish.
It’s time for another feeding. I hear the boys stirring and I recall this quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
“In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of two people existing only for each other.”
In our case it is three. I love you Spencer and Gordon. So glad you are home.