Jaime Twins in the NICU #crashcourse

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The NICU is an overwhelming place, especially when you give birth to twins two months ahead of schedule. There’s a lot to learn, and it all happens so fast.

I delivered Noah and Nikoh via emergency c-section on March 26, 2014 and spent five days in the hospital recovering from the surgery. The only “plus” to being hospitalized for so long was the NICU was down the hall from the hospital’s maternity ward. We visited with our babies every chance we had.

Immediately we learned the NICU was where dozens of babies were battling their own life-threatening situations. NICU babies are the strongest, most resilient babies you could ever imagine. They go through more pokes, prods, surgeries and procedures than most adults will ever have to endure. I was overcome with emotion every time I walked into the NICU. It was heartbreaking to see so many babies… many alone in their incubators, some babies with visitors, others who were sound asleep and those who were crying but had to wait their “turn” to be tended to by the busy nurses. As a mom, my first instinct was always wanting to rush over to the crying baby to offer he/she comfort, but I knew my babies needed me at that moment too.

Each time my husband and I would visit we would walk over to Noah and Nikoh’s incubators, he’d go to one baby and I’d go to the other. Their incubators were always positioned side-by-side so we could visit them both at the exact same time. We would stick our arms in their incubators, softly caress their little faces, cradle their tender heads, touch their tiny hands and feet and whisper to them how proud we were of their progress and perseverance. A minute or two later, my husband and I would “switch” so each of us could say hello and bond with our other baby. It would continue with the two of us going back and forth between Noah and Nikoh over and over throughout our visits, multiple times a day. For the first couple of days our babies were too “unstable” for us to take them out of the incubators, so the majority of those first visits really consisted of us gazing into their incubators, and imagining the moment we would get to hold them in our arms.

At the start of each visit we would get an update from the nurse who was taking care of our babies. Noah and Nikoh typically had two nurses per day, each worked a 12 hour shift and were assigned to care for two NICU babies. Most of the time one nurse was assigned to both Noah and Nikoh which made it
really convenient for us as opposed to having to get briefed by two nurses (less time getting updates and more time visiting!)

Typically the updates would include a rundown of several different areas of concern including if the babies had gained weight, were they tolerating their gavage feedings (which were done through a feeding tube inserted in their mouths and/or nose. *Their feedings started about five days after they were born, in the first few days they received IV fluids) had they been crying or uncomfortable, did their bilirubin levels rise or fall (which were monitored because they had pretty bad jaundice), were any episodes of Apnea detected ( which is common in premature babies and happens when the babies stop breathing) and had they experienced any Bradycardia or “bradys” which is a drop in the babies’ blood oxygen level as a result of apnea. We were also updated on how well the babies were breathing. Both Noah and Nikoh were placed on a CPAP at birth, a respiratory support machine which gave them constant air flow to help them breathe and keep their tiny lungs from collapsing. The CPAP is a clear, thick tube which was positioned tightly over each babies’ nose. It covered just about their entire faces and were very uncomfortable for them. It broke my heart to constantly see them try and tug on the CPAP mask. And although it was very faint, I often would hear them cry while they struggled to get comfortable with the CPAP covering their faces.

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Alarm bells were a common sound in the NICU. Every time I would hear a monitor beep (which happened at least a dozen times an hour) my heart would sink and I’d quickly look at Noah and Nikoh’s monitor to check their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, etc. The nurses explained what all the colors and numbers and sounds of the machines meant, that way when we heard the dreaded “ding, ding, ding” we knew what was happening. It was terrifying when the alarm was coming from one of our babies, and a relief when it wasn’t. Emotional roller coaster I tell ya! I swear we would hear those alarm bells in our sleep, and I can still hear them in my head as I type this blog.

It was a lot to learn, a lot to process and a lot to accept.

I often felt intimidated talking to the nurses and doctors because they would talk in medical terms, and it was up to us as the parents to ask countless questions in order for us to really understand what was happening with our babies’ and their developments. The one thing I have learned being a journalist is to be SUPER comfortable peppering people with questions, even if its about a subject I know close to nothing about. So there we were, constantly asking questions, sometimes the same question more than once and often to more than one nurse.

Each day brought different triumphs and pitfalls for both Noah and Nikoh, and it often seemed like when one of our babies had a really great day, the other baby was struggling in one area or another. Our emotions were often divided down the middle — happiness and sadness — because Noah and Nikoh were always on “different pages,” medically speaking. It was rare that they ever had good days at the same time.

We realized that no one could ever be a better advocate for our children than myself and my husband and that’s why it was essential for us to be in the NICU everyday and night, so much so that the nurses would often tell me I should probably take “a day off.” But not seeing my babies for more than a few hours was never an option for us. They were hospitalized in the NICU for a month and a half, and we were there all the time.

Every time we left the NICU, it felt like we left our hearts behind. To help ease the heartache, we taped prayer cards and a picture of us on the inside of Noah and Nikoh’s incubators so they knew we were always there with them. Overnight we would call their nurse and get our updates over the phone. It was heart-wrenching when we were separated. Trusting strangers with my under-developed, precious babies was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Looking back, I consider those NICU nurses our angels. They took care of Noah and Nikoh extremely well, and often spent time talking to us, parent to parent, to reassure us that one day we would be able to take our babies home.

A lot of NICU moms and dads tend to ask each other how often they should be visiting with their baby/babies, and it’s hard to say because the circumstances and logistics are different for everyone.

But if you want my opinion, I would say visit always and often. Make it work. Make the sacrifice. Call in reinforcement to help you tend to your other children and other obligations. Beg your boss for more time off. Do what it takes to be there by their side. NICU babies need their moms and dads. They know when you are there. They take comfort in your presence. Your love and devotion to them WILL make them strong.

XO~ Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

Got Twins? Get These!


(Nikoh (left) and Noah (right) at their five-month check-up on Sept. 2, 2014.

* I tend to write this blog in chronological order, but I have a few friends pregnant with twins so I thought I’d jump a head a bit to help them get prepared for their babies.

During my twin pregnancy I spent a lot of time researching and perusing twin baby blogs in hopes of finding what twin “must-haves” I needed to get my hands on. (Yes, I went into labor the week before my baby shower and had absolutely none of the items below, but that’s the topic of a later blog! I had every intention of being prepared before they arrived 😉 )

No doubt every twin parent will come up with their own list of “must-haves,” but here is what has worked for me so far. This twin “must-have” list is in no specific order, but instead a compilation of my daily “go-to” twin resources.

LulyBoo Baby Lounge – My twin boys Noah and Nikoh were born two months premature. When they “graduated” from the NICU and came home, they slept a lot during the day in their LulyBoo Baby Lounges for the first few months. I would place their individual lounges side-by-side on my couch, and put the babies inside to sleep. Noah and Nikoh always seemed to sleep very comfortably in the lounges and also had fun playing in them too. I love these baby lounges so much because they did a great job at keeping my preemies snuggled, and comforted while they slept. They were also very easy to clean. All I had to do was unzip one side and the lounge’s fabric cover just came right off. I would wash it and dry it in the washer/dryer and then easily put the cover back onto the lounge’s interior foam. I often caught Noah and Nikoh staring at a little sheep that is sewn into the interior wall of the lounge too, and when they started stretching their arms I would find them touching the sheep. So I know they loved the LulyBoo Baby Lounges! The baby lounge is also made for travel, and folded up very easily when I needed to take it with us to visit family.

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Breast Milk Storage Bag– My twins were hospitalized in the NICU for a little over one month after they were born on March 26, 2014, and while they were there I either breastfed them or pumped and bottle fed. I produced a lot of milk right from the get-go, so much so that I quickly filled a little freezer in the NICU and the nurses advised me to start storing my breastmilk at home. That first day I was totally unprepared, so I had to store my milk in a Disney-themed “Frozen” lunch bag that I borrowed from my niece that morning to store my lunch for the day while visiting my babies in the NICU. I had zero time to go shopping while they were in the NICU, so I ended up using that little bag for several weeks to store my breast milk. I would just fill it up with some ice from the cafeteria’s ice machine, and if my babies didn’t need the milk I pumped that day I would take it home and store it in my freezer. The problem I had was the ice melted fast, so it wasn’t the best for storing breast milk, but it did the trick! If I had a better storage bag, it would have been much easier to transport it from my freezer to the NICU.

Two Boppies

I think us moms have all heard how wonderful boppies are, so this is probably nothing new. My twins have used their individual boppies to do just about everything: sleep, feed, burp, tummy time, sit, etc. When I brought my twins home from the NICU they were small, and only weighed about 4 pounds. The boppy was huge compared to them but it still came in so handy. When I was alone with my twins and it was time for feedings, I would place both babies in their boppies, side-by side on the floor, and I would sit in front of them. My left hand would hold one bottle, and my right hand would hold the other bottle, thereby allowing me to feed them simultaneously. When it was time for one baby to burp, I would lay him on his tummy on the boppy to help him burp and I would pick up the other baby and finish feeding him. You will come up with all sorts of ways to make the boppies work for you and your twins, that is just one example. Now that my twins are five months old, (three months adjusted age) I tend to use their boppies to sit them upright so they can look around, move their heads and necks and give them a break from lying flat on their backs while strengthening their head/neck muscles.

Summer Infant Fox & Friends Classic Comfort Wood Bassinets – Noah and Nikoh each have one of these bassinets and they have been life-savers! One word: WHEELS! Although my babies were originally too small to sleep in their bassinets when they came home from the NICU, I immediately started using them to help me during bath time. I place each baby in their bassinet and wheel them both into the bathroom. I then give each baby a bath one at a time, with the other twin right beside me in his bassinet so I can keep my eyes on both of them. Very convenient when you are bathing babies without a helper! After their baths, I put the babies back inside the bassinets and wheel them back to the bedroom where I change and dress them. The wheels on the bassinets allow me to push them both from room to room simultaneously. A definite time saver! I also put the babies in their bassinets and wheel them right next to my shower, so I can watch them when I take a super fast shower!


Aside from the awesome wheels, the bassinets are beautiful! I love the dark wood finish and the modern style. Very different than the traditional bassinets.

First Years Close and Secure Sleeper – Like any new mom, I was absolutely terrified when I brought my babies home. Bed time tends to bring me the most anxiety because I am so afraid I won’t hear my babies if they cry. The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper has helped so much in reducing my nerves. I have used it in two main ways. I place one sleeper in the center of our Cal King bed with Nikoh (Baby B and about a pound smaller than Noah) inside of it and it has been awesome! I am super comfortable sleeping with Nikoh inside of it in our bed because its walls/barriers do not collapse, therefore keeping me or my husband from rolling on top of Nikoh, and it keeps him safe on his back throughout the night. It was important for us to have Nikoh securely sleep in our bed because he often vomits in his sleep, and it’s imperative for us to hear him to make sure he doesn’t choke.

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I use our second First Years Close and Secure Sleeper for Noah. Because my babies were born two months premature, I have felt that they were too small to sleep in the bassinet, mainly because they would roll around in it and wake themselves up. So what we have been doing is placing the First Years Close and Secure Sleeper inside Noah’s Summer Infant Bassinet (it fits perfectly inside, with no wiggle room for him to get stuck between the two) and place Noah inside the sleeper on his back for bedtime. I love how the sleeper keeps Noah in place, and brings him up higher in the bassinet. When he is asleep in it next to my bed, all I have to do is glance over or drop my hand inside to feel him and make sure he is breathing and is OK.

Taggies Soft ‘N’ Snug Bouncer

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I have used these bouncers everyday since I brought Noah and Nikoh home from the NICU. I really like the plush, soft lining and the mobile that is attached to the bouncer. The Taggies bouncer also has a music and vibration function which have helped soothe my twins on many occasions. In addition to sitting my twins in it to relax and nap, I also use the bouncers from time to time during feedings.

Graco Duet Soothee Swing & Rocker – I started putting Noah and Nikoh inside their swings when they were about three months old, and they have proven to be very useful when my arms get tired of holding them. Although I have yet to use it as a rocker, you can definitely use it as one in addition to a swing. My babies fit comfortably inside the plush seats, and are often soothed by the different nature songs, melodies and vibration functions it offers. The only thing I don’t like about the Graco Duet Soothee Swing & Rocker is that the teddy bear mobile does not move. My babies stare at it so much, I’m sure they’d enjoy it more if the mobile actually moved.

Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail Set– I can’t tell you how many times I have heard parents say the diaper pail or diaper genie was a total waste. Let me tell you why I beg to differ. When you have twins, you will quickly become a master diaper changer. You will be changing sooo many diapers, you will feel like your house if full of them, and it will be! I promise! On any given day I accumulate about 15-20 dirty diapers, sometimes more than that. If I didn’t have the Munchkin diaper pail, I can only imagine what the trashcans around my house would look and smell like. Stinky overflow for sure! The Munchkin diaper pail does a great job at keeping all dirty diapers in one bin, and keeping the odor from seeping out. I change the bag on the diaper pail about twice a week. My only regret is not getting one for downstairs. My kitchen trashcan tends to fill up with dirty diapers when I have that the twins in our den, and it makes me cringe every time I have company over. But in our bedroom, all diapers are tossed into the diaper pail and you’d never know it’s almost always full of used diapers.

Munchkin Bottle Warmer – A bottle warmer is generally not considered much of a necessity to many moms, especially because you can always warms a bottle by running it under warm water. But if you have twins, trust me you’ll want to spend the $20 something to get one, or two. If you have stored breast milk, or refrigerated formula, you’ll want to warm it up before feeding it to your little ones. In the beginning I would warm up my babies’ milk by placing the bottles in coffee cups filled with warm water, and it would take upwards of five minutes to get warm. Much too long for screaming twins to wait! I decided to run to Target and buy a Munchkin Bottle Warmer to see if it would make my life easier, and voilà! Now it takes about three minutes to warm each bottle, which results in about four less minutes of crying babies. Definitely a must-have because the less crying your twins do, equates to more conserved energy they have to grow!

Fisher Price Fast Finder Diaper Bag – If you have twins you automatically think you’ll probably need two of everything, especially a diaper bag, but that’s not the case for me. And trust me I pack EVERYTHING! So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that all of my twins necessities fit into one Fisher Price Fast Finder Diaper Bag. At first glance it doesn’t look like it is big enough to hold enough clothes, diapers and supplies for twins, but it is! It is equipped with a large interior storage space, several exterior pockets, an insulated, easy-to-reach bottle pouch, an exterior wipe pocket and wipe case, a cushioned changing pad and pockets to help you keep medicines, lotions, bottles or any other accessories organized and stored inside the bag.

Joovy Twin Roo Stroller Frame -I researched a lot of strollers before choosing the Joovy Twin Roo stroller. There are several reasons why I love this stroller, and only one reason why I don’t. I have been using my stroller for just about five months now, and the only gripe I have about it is I have to lift the car seats out of the stroller frame in order to get to the diaper bag and my purse which I store on the bottom storage basket. The car seats snap in and out of the frame easily, but I just wish there was a faster way to get to the storage basket without having to take the car seats out.

Ok, now for the great news! Everywhere I go, moms always tell me, “What a cool stroller, I’ve never seen one like that before.” That’s because with the Joovy Twin Roo, the car seats snap into the frame sideways, and each car seats sits in the opposite direction, so it’s easier to tend to each twin. photo-3 copy 4

I also love how easy it is to maneuver the stroller around grocery stores, malls and department stores. Let’s be honest, it is stressful enough mustering the courage to go out in public with newborn twins, so the last thing you want is a stroller that doesn’t fit anywhere. That was my biggest fear, especially because I knew side-by-side, wide strollers would just aggravate me.

Another great thing about the Joovy Twin Roo Stroller is that it’s easy to lift, (I lift it in and out of my car several times) and it fits nicely into the trunk of a sedan or an SUV. It pops right up, and folds right down and there isn’t much you have to do besides that when it’s time to use it.

The Joovy Twin Roo Stroller is compatible with several car seats, I selected the Chico Key Fit 30 which fits great.

Chico Key Fit 30 Car Seats – If you end up delivering preemies like I did, the NICU will require you to take them home in a car seat that is suitable for 4 pounds +. The Chico Key Fit 30 has proven to be awesome for my preemie twins. I especially love the newborn insert it has the kept my tiny little ones snug and secure while transporting them from the NICU to home. These car seats also snap in and out of the Joovy Twin Roo Stroller easily, and aren’t too heavy. I also really liked the grey/navy blue combination of colors on the car seat, perfect for my twin boys! The material is also very easy to clean. We have had several spit ups, and each one has wiped right off with no residue left behind.

Graco Pack n’ Play With Twin Bassinet Play Yard

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My twins have slept in their individual incubators/cribs/bassinets since they were in the NICU for safety purposes. But I love this product because it allowed my twins to sleep separate, yet right next to each other when they were napping or sleeping downstairs in our den. I love putting Noah and Nikoh to sleep in the Graco Pack ‘N’ Play With Twin Bassinet because it’s a convenient way to have them side-by-side and together in one place. I really liked that the bassinet has a dome that you can put up when you want to block light from your baby’s face. *The bassinet portion is to be used for babies ONLY under 15 pounds!

Lastly, I want to suggest if you have a two-story home be sure to have an area on both floors that has all of your twin necessities like diapers, wipes, blankets, burp cloths, bibs, onesies, pajamas, bottles, etc. In my house I have everything they need in my bedroom and their nursery, and another station in my den that way I don’t have to go up and downstairs when I need something.

There are so many things I use everyday for my twins, but these have definitely been the things I use the most.

If you are having twins you will quickly learn that it will take a lot of trial and error before you figure out what works the best for you and your babies. In my case, I found that my twins got tired of being in one place for too long, so I constantly move them around. My den is more like a twin circuit training gym, where I constantly move them from the swings, to the bouncers, to the boppies, to the play pens…you get the idea!

And if you are like me, blessed with an amazingly helpful mom/grandma to your twins, SHE will be your saving grace! My mom Norma has been my #1 twin “must-have.” She has helped me figure out the best way to feed, bathe, sleep, play and soothe my twins. Without her I definitely couldn’t be as successful as I am taking care of my Noah and Nikoh on a daily basis. So along with this list of things to help you, I hope you also have someone as incredible as my mom to help you transition smoothly into what will become the most challenging and most beautiful time in your life.

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I can never thank you enough mom, I love you.

XO~Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy