Life in the NICU
When we planned out how our babies births would turn out, we never thought a 15 day NICU stay was in our books, but as it turns out, it was, and nothing is perfect, and sometimes you have to take life by the punches and continue on as best you can. When discussing surrogacy it’s important to not only discuss the good, but also the unexpected, the sad, and the not-so-pretty times. There is no shame when things go wrong, it is all as it was meant to be and we share our story to show others that there is no perfect journey, but there can be a perfect ending! Our surrogate developed a condition at 34.5 weeks and our babies would need to be delivered pre-term and their lives in-utero would come to an end for good. Follow our journey through the NICU, one breath, one minute, one moment at a time.
A week before our babies were born, our surrogate went into pre-term labor at 33 weeks, with no real cause. With the help of hospital doctors and nurses, they were able to stop her labor with the use of magnesium and after a two-day stay, she was back home, on bed rest. Magnesium as our surrogate described, was HELL, and she reacted badly and had every side effect imaginable. We could not imagine her going through this again! We drove up with this scare and waited in the sidelines, staying at a hotel nearby, just in case. When she was sent home, we returned back to Miami to wait until it was time. Fast forward one week and our surrogate was feeling extreme itchiness in her extremities and reached out to her OB for his input, and a blood test was requested to check for Cholestasis of pregnancy, which we were told was a liver problem where bile is not properly distributed or created, or something of that nature. More importantly, it is extremely dangerous to the surrogate and babies, and is linked to sudden death in newborns, so if this test came back positive, labor would need to be induced immediately! On July 6th, 2020, we received the call that the test came back positive for Cholestasis, and she was to be induced within hours. We were a 5 hour drive away and because of the previous weeks scare, were ready-to-go, bags packed in car and only required minimal preparation before we were on our way to Daytona Beach.
July 6th, 2020
After a few hours of induced labor, which allowed us to drive up and make it just in time, when it came time to push, our babies arrived within 15 minutes of pushing and 4 minutes apart. They were born at 34.5 weeks with Baby A (aka Dean Aston) born at 8:38pm weighing 5lbs 8ozs and measuring 19" and Baby B (aka Devin Andre) born at 8:42pm weighing 5lbs 6ozs and measuring 17.9". Dean was born breathing great on his own and didn't require any immediate support aside from the standard suction and body rubs. Devin was born slightly smaller, but was not breathing great on his own and needed the support of oxygen and was immediately whisked away to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Dean followed his younger brother into the NICU, and would require an assessment as well. Because they were born 5.5 weeks early, their bodies were not ready for eating and for Devin, his breathing was not where it needed to be.
After the birth we were given our own room, to wait while our babies were being assessed. After a couple hours of waiting to hear anything, our anxiety went through the roof. We didn't know if they were OK, or anything about them, for that matter. The Neonatologist came to see us an hour or so later, and gave us the synopsis of both and what the required treatment would be, and both would require some time in the NICU. They were unable to put an IV in Dean because his veins were so tiny they could not use them, and Devin would be on oxygen, until his lungs would improve. Devin was able to get an IV in which would help him in the first few days, Dean however would need to receive a feeding tube and would require immediate feedings via tube to improve his condition. After speaking to the Neonatologist, we were given the all-clear the enter the NICU and finally see our babies once again.
This entire process was definitely a stressful one for us and the first night for both of us was intense. This particular NICU had separate rooms for each baby and a sleeping quarters in each room for one parent. Because we had two babies, we each took to a room and were able to stay with our babies the entire time they were in there. We did not know this in advance, but it was definitely a blessing in disguise. We must also add that the nurses were the absolute best. They provided support for the babies and for US, because we definitely needed it as well. On top of this, they were extremely patient and taught us everything we needed to know to take care of our new babies. Thank you so much for all that you did and all that you continue to do for all the delicate babies in the NICU. You all are one-of-a-kind and incredibly special beings for doing what you do! We can never thank you all enough!
We were immediately thrown into it all, as we wanted to be, and began changing diapers, feeding, swaddling and even bathing, with their guidance. Our dreams of becoming dads was now real and it was time for us to step up to the plate and care for our delicate babies, and be the best dads we could be.
As our stay progressed both babies would improve one step and the go back three. There were many moments when we felt completely helpless because there was nothing we could do to improve their conditions. Dean, born breathing on his own, started having shallow breathing and would require oxygen for quite a few days. There were a few scary moments where his alarm would go off and we would jump from our beds and run to see what was happening. Similarly with Devin, although he was on an IV, he would take longer to begin drinking formula and it was an excruciating painful process to partake in. Devin also had multiple tachycardia periods and would require a minimum 5-day evaluation. Luckily, most of this improved as the days progressed. Eventually, they both began drinking formula and reached the levels they needed to reach for their age, and oxygen levels improved enough to where both were breathing on their own, although Dean would come on and off regularly. After 15 days, or what felt like an eternity, they were approved for discharge, at the very last moment. Dean had a sudden drop in oxygen the night before but recovered with no further issues and it was determined it was safe to drive home. They both passed their 4-hour car seat tests easily but we knew very well, our trek home would involve multiple stops, diaper changes and feedings, but alas we were on our way home!
Check out the video below of our 15 day NICU stay, which some incredible behind the scenes footage of what transpired during our stay and all the emotions involved with newborns in the NICU. As always, don't forget to like and comment, so keep the algorithm going and make our videos seen! Thank you!