Apparently, my babies are getting older. We are aware of this, of course, but I feel like it has suddenly become A Thing. For example, my precious little boy is starting formula today (“He’s getting older!” says the nurse. “Can’t stay on donor milk forever!”). They’re considering transitioning him to high-flow oxygen (“He’s getting older! Can’t send him home on CPAP!”). Both babies have started crying and thrashing around, frustrated in their incubators (“They’re getting older! They’re not just going to lie there and sleep all day!”). While this means that we’re getting closer to taking these two home, having it suddenly happen in the blink of an eye one day makes for one shocked mama.
One way I have irrationally attempted to cope with this development is by attempting to spend my days pumping fast and furious like a crazy lady. “NO BABY OF MINE WILL HAVE FORMULA!” I proclaim in my head. But of course, both of my babies will most definitely end up on a fairly substantial amount of formula if I want them to eat and grow and live. And, despite all the encouragement from our lactation consultants, I am fairly sure that by this point in my (older!) babies’ lives, there isn’t a whole lot I can do about my pathetic milk supply, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to stop the process of my little ones growing faster than I am prepared for.
Of particular concern is the frustrated thrashing. I have tried my best to mentally prepare myself for having two babies at home that cry and scream and freak out like babies do, but I guess I assumed that wouldn’t happen until I, you know, took them home. I see it already beginning though, as both Madeleine and Reid will wake up suddenly to realize that something is wrong, and cry and thrash in the hopes that that something will resolve. Unfortunately, I happen to have no idea what that something is, so I just sit there feeling useless until they figure out a way to settle themselves. In my imaginary ‘two babies at home’ mental scenario, I would try to do something helpful like pick them up and give them a cuddle, but you can’t really do that when your baby lives in a little plastic box. So instead I just sit there and try to offer them some unhelpful reassuring words while watching their heart rates climb on the monitor because, c’mon Mom, do something already.
In any case, I am still aware that being here with my already-seven-week-and-change babies is a big accomplishment. Reid is well over 4lbs now, and both babies are finally starting to pack on some fat rolls which are so wonderful to see. And even though it hurts me when they cry, their cries now are actually starting to sound like real baby cries instead of sad little lamb cries. I know that not all mamas get to see their babies grow when they were born at only 25 weeks, and that it was never guaranteed to us either. At the same time, with still so many weeks of NICU life ahead of us, it will be a challenge to to watch Madeleine and Reid continue to get bigger and stronger while still being stuck in incubators and attached to machines.