These are two of the babies' nurses in the NICU.
I first held our babies when they were 8 days old. It was quite an overwhelming experience, as you can imagine, but no one can prepare you for what to expect in the NICU. There are all of these tiny babies in isolettes with tubes and wires coming from them and it is quite loud. There is a lot of beeping and machinery making noise. I was still in a wheelchair, not strong enough yet to walk on my own, so Hubby wheeled me up to the neo-natal floor and showed me the procedures he had been following the past week...signing in, washing up to our elbows, being buzzed through the doors...and then once we were in, I got such a warm welcome. The nurses all asked how I was feeling and said they had heard so much about me. On this day, the twins had different nurses. The first baby I met was Prince. His nurse was a man named Robert, who had a very strong Alabama accent. He handed me my baby and said, "Mama's here." He then proceeded to tell me about the nickname he had given my sweet prince in this deep twang and said, "Mama, he likes it when you rub his head like this. He's got all this loose skin like an old hound dog. See? He looks like an ol' hound dog and he likes it." After holding Prince for a few minutes and being totally overwhelmed by all of the tubes and how tiny he was, I was taken to the next bed to meet Princess. Princess' nurse handed me this tiny sweet girl and said, "We weren't sure if you were just going to call her by her first name or use her first and middle together, but I just have to tell you that we nurses have decided that her name is too pretty not to use the whole thing. So you have to use both names, we decided it for you." It is quite common in the south to use first and middle names for little girls, I had not decided yet what we'd call her. She was named after her great-great granny, who only used her middle name. Well, that settled it and she has been using both names ever since.
Hubby and I lived at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital so we could come and go easily. As we entered the hospital each morning the receptionist downstairs would ask how I was doing and tell me she had been praying for our little family. As we left each night, she would ask how the babies were doing. We spent hours sitting with our babies, telling them stories, praying over them, I sang to them. To make the time go by, I would start with the letter A and go through the alphabet singing a hymn or praise song for every letter of the alphabet. Sometimes I'd have to get creative with it, but I did it. Prince's favorite song was "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." Princess liked "Jesus Wants Me for A Sunbeam." I called each night after the 3 a.m. feeding to see how they were doing. I remember once being put on hold and the hold music was "Only the Good Die Young." I was so exhausted and jumpy that I started laughing out loud...that was all I could do. I think the hardest thing was the not being in control. They were our children, but we had no control over anything in their little lives. The nurses told us if and when we could hold them, when to change their diapers, when we couldn't hold them to just let them rest...it was so hard. Then there was the bigger picture of not being in control. We didn't know what was going to happen, when we would be able to go home, what would life be like? Would our babies have any long-lasting effects? Would they even make it home? We were able to take the twins home on their one-month birthday. That month seemed like an eternity.
Through all of this, God was there. My strength came because of the prayers other people were lifting on my behalf. I knew that God hadn't brought us through that far, not to bring us the rest of the way to bring our family home. Those days were the hardest of my life and I don't know why things happened the way they did. Each year as their birthday comes around, all of these feelings come back and it is difficult, but Hubby and I hold them a little tighter and think of how truly blessed we are.