It’s OK to Keep it Simple!

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(Noah (L) and Nikoh (R) sipping their favorite breakfast shakes ~ March 2016)

One of the most stressful aspects of raising my twin boys over the last two years has always been the battle that occurs when it’s time to feed them.

Moms/dads you can relate to this……

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We are currently in the toddler stage, (my twins Noah and Nikoh are turning 2 on March 26!) so the time frame I have to get them to eat ranges from  4-7 minutes (per meal) on a good day. After that, they are “over it.” My boys are pretty good eaters, but sometimes it takes me having to whip up 2-3 small meals before they will actually eat something (And who really has that kind of time right?!….Definitely not this twin mama!) Often times I end up with pieces of food in my hair and on my clothes because they rather “play” than eat!

So on those trying, tiring, stressful days, I remind myself, “It’s OK, to keep it simple!” It can’t always be french toast topped with quinoa and bananas, an egg omelette with veggies and ground turkey, or a breakfast quesadilla…you catch my drift, right? Sometimes it’s ok to just make sure your toddler eats something decent, maintain your sanity and keep it super simple!

So I wanted to share two of the easy peasy snacks that have really helped me keep my stress level down on the days when my twins were not in the mood to eat, and all I wanted to do was crawl into a dark hole.

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(My boys’ favorite Breakfast Blend Liquiado or “shake.”)

Noah & Nikoh’s current favorite snack is what at home we call a “liquiado,” or in English, a shake. The one pictured above is my “Breakfast Blend” liquiado. Super delicious and packed with nutrients so it’s a win! win! Plus it takes all of 3-4 minutes to make and  voilà!…my baby boys have a delicious meal they can drink on their own, and I have a few minutes to decompress!

Here’s what to do: In a blender I add the following – approximately 4 cups of organic whole milk, 1 banana, two cups total of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries, one cup of oatmeal, half a cup of steamed quinoa and a dash of Nestle’s chocolate milk powder. Blend and serve! It’s really that simple.

(*Remember I am making this for twins, so if you only have 1 toddler you might want to use a little less of each ingredient. If not, you can drink the leftovers! And I promise you will love it 😉 You can also substitute the fresh fruit for bagged frozen fruits which you can find at any grocery store. And feel free to add or exclude ingredients based on your toddler’s likings.)

This next snack is super easy, traditional and loved by most parents! Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches…yum!

Since my boys are toddlers their food has to be cut into small pieces for obvious safety reasons so PB & J’s are great! I originally gravitated towards the Smuckers Uncrustable Sandwiches which you can find at the grocery store, but that got expensive real quick! (One box can carry 15 sandwiches and costs approximately $10.) So instead I found this awesome Cut-N-Seal gadget (pictured below) from Pampered Chef, which costs less than $20 and is much more economical!

Now I make my twins homemade PB & J Uncrustable Sandwiches multiple times a week, for much less than buying them from the store. You can see how easy it is in a few simple steps (pictured below) .

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Now yes, I realize I am not reinventing the wheel here, and these snacks aren’t unique, but they have come in very handy for me… So I just thought I’d blog about them to remind moms/parents there are a few easy things that can be a big help on those hard days.

So give yourself a break 😉 And keep up the great work!

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XO~Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

 

It’s Kinda Like This..Crazy Beautiful!!

There’s not a day that goes by without a family member, friend or perfect stranger asking me, “Okay Nisha, honestly, what’s it really like?”

(“It” means twin motherhood… LOL!)

I always appreciate and welcome any and all questions, because if you’ve never been a parent to multiples (one or more child the exact same age), you might be unable to comprehend how crazy/beautiful it can be. I try to answer this question as best as I can, and it normally tends to be very long-winded. So I thought sharing a tiny glimpse of what I do — diaper/outfit changes upwards of 10 times a day — would be the best insight.

Sometimes to believe it you have to see it….so here ya go!

(Noah & Nikoh, my 29 weekers, thriving big and strong & quickly approaching 2 years old!)

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XO~Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

 

 

Hang in There, Mama!

When I first had the idea to start blogging about my pregnancy and being a new mom, I planned to be writing all of the time. I am a journalist, so writing has always, and will always be natural and “easy” for me to do.

Boy oh boy 😉 …was I wrong.

There’s just ZERO time for me anymore! That goes for my love of writing, too.

If you know me personally, you’ve heard me say (probably more times than you liked), “I don’t have any time to myself, I barely have the time to eat!” I know some of you even secretly roll your eyes at me, but don’t worry I do not take it personally! I know I tend to sound like a broken record while talking about my experience as a twin mom.

But, it’s true. There’s no time for ME anymore. Zero time. Zero time, times 2! Because it’s ALL about my boys. The most time I have for myself, is to constantly remind myself to, ‘hang in there,mama!’

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I am not exaggerating. I am not trying to get your sympathy. I am not trying to make my mommy job sound more important or demanding than yours. I’m really being genuine.  The “idea” of motherhood is beautiful and exciting! Especially with all of the pretty baby bump pics us mommies get to share, the baby shower fun and all of the extra attention we get walking around with our beaming belly!  But let’s fast forward to the reality of motherhood, once your baby -or in my case, babies – arrive….life can get crazy, real quick! I consider the day a success if I can shower before 6 p.m. Ha!

All of a sudden I now have two precious little boys attached to each side of my body, at all times of the day and night. It’s nearly impossible to remember life without them. And did I mention, there’s no time for ME anymore?!

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(Noah (L), Mommy & Nikoh (R), December 2015)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at my dining room table to start blogging, do some online shopping, etc… when one of my twin boys sees me and attempts to climb over the couch to get my attention! So there I go..running to catch him! And then catch BOTH of them because when one does something, his twin brother follows right behind him! Needless to say that fabulous blog I had in mind stopped before I could even get started.

There’s been a pretty large gap since the last time I blogged in July. Mostly due to my babies, who are now actually toddlers, being sick for what seemed like all summer long. We’ve been inundated with doctor appointments, specialist appointments, sleepless nights (yes at 20 months old they are still not sleeping through the night!) and freak accidents that literally tore my heart into two pieces. (I will blog about all of that another day!) Not to mention an upcoming surgery for Nikoh later this month. But my goal is to try and write more this year, in hopes of getting my blog up to date with where Noah and Nikoh are today… healthy, thriving and living preemie strong!

But today I just wanted to write and reach out, to all the mommies out there who feel as frazzled as I do on the daily and tell you, hang in there, mama! You’ll  make it through today. And you are doing great!

Motherhood, and parenthood in general, is overwhelming. That goes for whether you’re a twin mama like me, a new mom to one baby, a veteran mom with a car load of kiddos and every type of mom in between.

I constantly remind myself of that quote, “Motherhood is not a competition.” Definitely not! If anything we moreso compete with ourselves, right? I know every morning when I wake up, I try to be a better mom than I was yesterday. And to me, motherhood… it’s more like survival of the fittest! Everyday I just try and survive. Because it’s really never-ending…feedings, diaper changes, outfit changes,spill clean-ups, laundry, dinner, I can go on and on!

Most days I feel like I did a horrible job, but I never give up.

One day I stumbled upon this quote on one of my social media accounts, and I go back and repeat it to myself everyday. So here’s to hoping it can inspire you, as it inspires me, on the days we need it the most!

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XO~Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

 

 

 

 

Two of them, 1 of Me

My twins have been sprouting like weeds the last few months! It’s still hard to fathom my tiny 3 pound preemies are now almost 15 months-old, weighing 28 (Noah) and 25 (Nikoh) pounds.

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Nothing short of miraculous to watch them play together…Today as I remember them sleeping in their NICU incubators, it almost feels like another lifetime.
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I originally intended to populate this blog much more frequently, but being a mother to my twins has proven to be incredibly demanding ever since they started crawling, and now walking and climbing on absolutely everything! (And NO baby proofing doesn’t really help when you have one toddler going left and the other toddler going right.) I always find myself thinking and talking about how difficult twin motherhood is, not because I want people to say, “Oh poor you,”….but more because I am still amazed at how mothers do it, and how they did it decades before me with much less resources.

Twin motherhood is quite the beautiful challenge and you can never fully comprehend it unless you have carried two babies in your womb simultaneously and taken care of them everyday. There are moments where it feels overwhelming and almost impossible, but there are also plenty of times where it brings more love and happiness I ever could have imagined. Tears normally accompany both ends of those two spectrums.

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Every aspect of twin motherhood has indeed had its immense challenges, and certainly its highs and lows, but the part that literally tugs at my core is the obvious fact that there is ALWAYS two of them and one of me. I have two babies, only 1 minute different in age, who often need and want me at the exact same time. It tears my heart apart to have to pick between the two of them when deciding who to tend to first. Believe it or not, it happens several times a day.

Many parents tell me what a blessing it is that my twins are each other’s playmates. Yes, it’s so wonderful that they love to make each other laugh and they do entertain each other all day. But what happens when they are playing, chuckling, having a great time and all of a sudden they bump their heads together? This happened last week. There I was with my two babies, crying “mommmm! mommmmm!” I ran over to them, dropped to my knees and scooped them both into my arms so they both felt comforted. But I couldn’t pick them up simultaneously, and there was no way to give them the individual TLC I know they needed. It broke my heart to see the tears rolling down their little cheeks, boogies coming from their little noses, and I had to divvy up my hands to wipe the tears and clean the noses with one hand each.

And then there are the times when they are sick, when only my arms can comfort them. The last two weeks Nikoh was very sick with bronchitis. His throat was so swollen and red he didn’t eat or drink much. He was sluggish and not nearly his playful self. He wanted to lay on my chest, and in my arms for the better part of one week. But then there was Noah, who didn’t catch bronchitis, but did have a high fever for a few days and some congestion and would you believe he just wanted to be in mommy’s arms too?

Aside from being in the NICU with both Noah and Nikoh, these last few weeks have been the most emotionally and physically draining for me. I literally had to rotate babies in and out of my arms for several days straight so I can give them an equal amount of love, comfort and attention. It was so hard to do. I would be holding Nikoh trying to soothe him, and never really got to give him all of my attention because I was looking over at Noah who would often be sitting on the floor, leaning on my legs and looking up at me with his red and swollen little eyes. After 30 minutes of holding Nikoh, I would switch and it would be Noah’s “turn.” Imagine doing that over and over. It was like neither one of them were fully comforted because once they started to feel secure and cozy with me, I had to put them down and pick up their twin brother.

But it’s not always seeing them cry that makes me sad, sometimes it’s seeing them happy and wanting me so much.

At least once a day we watch one of their favorite cartoons, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I know all of you parents can relate to how magical this show really is! The second they hear the theme song, Noah and Nikoh will stop whatever it is they are doing and instantly turn to look at me and once we’ve made eye contact they start dancing, bouncing their little legs up and down. They both run up to me as I am dancing along with them and start reaching for me to pick them up. How do I decide who gets picked up and dances with mommy, and who stays dancing by himself? As a twin mom I have learned when I can’t get to them at the same time, they have to take turns. So today for example I picked up Noah and danced with him in my arms, while I dropped my other arm and grabbed Nikoh’s hand so he too can feel like he’s dancing with mommy. This might not sound like a huge dilemma to some, but trust me when you are a mom to twins it is heartbreaking not being able to give them the attention they want, need and deserve right when they ask for it.

I imagine parents who have more than one child also have to deal with these scenarios from time to time, but I can’t be certain it’s as intense as having two children the exact same age needing you at the exact same time and likely for the exact same reason. This is just one of the things about twin motherhood I never even thought about during my pregnancy, because I really had no idea what to expect. And despite my research, there was no book out there teaching me how to be “OK” with dividing my heart and attention between my two, precious boys, every second of everyday.

All I can hope and pray for is that the times I do give them both individual and “twin” love and attention, they feel comforted by me and loved enough to feel like they were born to the best mama in the world.

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XO~
Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

In Retrospect~ Twin Motherhood

It’s been a few months since I have had the chance to blog… my twins keep me extremely busy running back and forth between them!

A girlfriend recently asked me how I felt motherhood changes life, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to reflect on my first year as a twin mommy. (Great timing too because my twins, Noah & Nikoh, turned 1 on March 26!)

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So friend, here’s my answer…

Some women say they grew up feeling that embedded “maternal instinct,” while others admit (with some hesitation) that “motherhood” was never really atop of their priority list. For me, the desire to become a mother always fell somewhere between those two spectrums.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you education and career had always been my main focus in life. I never felt like being a mom was my ultimate dream or life goal. Instead I thrived on education and living my childhood desire of being a journalist and writer for as far back as I can remember. It wasn’t until the first moment I saw Noah and Nikoh in their incubators in the NICU — when I was not allowed to hold them for their first few days of life, and only able to place my hands and fingers along their tiny, frail bodies — that I instinctively felt the overwhelming emotion of actually feeling and yearning to be a mom. Seeing my babies for the first time changed me completely, and it happened in an instant. All of a sudden I was someone’s protector, their best friend and their biggest advocate.

Yes I felt like a mom the moment I found out I was pregnant and I knew my life would change tremendously when my twins were born (it actually changed drastically as soon as I found out I was expecting twins), but I never expected how different I would become after I gave birth to them. I have always considered myself to be a genuine, kind-hearted, giving and loving person, but those emotions have amplified since I became a mother to my twins. During my pregnancy I often imagined what type of mother I would be once my twins were born. I knew I would give them all of my love and devotion. But when my babies Noah and Nikoh were born two months premature, I instantly became the type of mother they needed.

I was laid off from my job with AOL.com a few months before my twins were born, and I was devastated. But you know that old saying, “It’s a blessing in disguise…” Cliche I know, but that’s exactly what it was. I love my career and am very proud of all the education, sacrifice and experience I have under my journalism belt, but I never thought twice about it after my twins were born. I often say that if I were still employed when my twins were born, I would have quit my job in a heartbeat in order to stay with my babies in the NICU around the clock the way I did for more than a month.

Why? Why quit my job when so many preemie parents continue working and somehow juggle the NICU?

Because that is the mother my Noah and Nikoh needed.

They needed me there by their side every single day. To watch over them as they were being poked and proded, pray alongside them at their weakest moments, and to hold them when they were finally strong enough to be in their mommy’s arms. I knew they needed a mother who wouldn’t miss a second of their most trying, early moments of life.

My preemies needed and deserved a devoted mom that was there for them in the NICU. Despite feeling like my body had been cut in half and healing from an emergency c-section, my babies needed me every morning, every night, all day to sit with them in the NICU and walk back and forth between the two, whispering into their incubators how much I loved them and how wonderful they were doing.

Even when the NICU nurses would tell me to go home, get some rest, step outside..I always chose to stay because that is the mother my babies needed. A mommy who was there for them all of the time.

Before I had my twins I used to be selfish… always on a news deadline, constantly in a hurry to finish writing my stories and always contemplating the next personal goal I would achieve. When I lost my job I cried because I missed and loved my work so much. Today that sounds silly. I can’t ever imagine loving anything more than my babies.

So my friend, motherhood has showed me that time, indeed, is ever so precious. It flies by. Zooms by really when you have children.

Today as I sit on the floor in my den, playing with my twins who just celebrated their first birthday, I find myself thinking about “missing my work” less and less. Instead I spend my days chasing them around, making sure they don’t pull down the blinds or knock over a chair, and I realize that being a mother to twins, has far exceeded any of my educational or professional achievements that used to mean the world to me. Twin motherhood is definitely my biggest accomplishment and it has brought me all of the love my heart has ever desired.

Yes I still am a journalist, I love to write, read and learn about the news of the world, but for the time being I realize that time is fleeting, and although the news is never-ending, my twins will only be babies for a short period of time, and it’s up to me to savor, indulge in and really experience every single second with them.

One day I will return to my full-time journalism post, but for now I find achievement in watching my twin preemies grow and thrive, and helping them meet all of their developmental milestones.

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XO~ Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

10 Days of Twin Separation..

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The majority of premature twins develop at different times, making the transition from the NICU stay to their home an emotionally jarring experience for mommy and daddy.

As I sit here and write about our experience last year with our twins, Noah and Nikoh, it’s still surreal to relive all of the emotions attached to having our newborn twins separated for 10 days.

Nikoh was discharged from the NICU on April 28, 2014, 34 days after he was born. His twin brother, Noah, went home 10 days before him. The separation anxiety my husband and I felt from having one baby at home with us, and our other baby in the NICU was intense. It felt like our hearts were literally ripped into two pieces, as cliché as that may sound. (I’ve talked about this in previous blogs; how we experienced emotional highs and lows simultaneously because our twins developed at different stages.)

As new parents to preemie twins, we learned a lot while parenting in the NICU. Everyday was a new obstacle. Our babies’ discharge days were no different.

When it was Noah’s turn to “graduate” from the NICU and go home, the neonatologist and nurses told me I should stay home and give him just about all of my devotion, in order to make sure he continued to thrive (Read more about Noah’s discharge from the NICU in my previous post.) In my mind and heart I thought to myself, “Are you serious? How will I stay away from Nikoh?” Noah was barely 4 pounds. He was so tiny, so fragile and I was PETRIFIED every time I had to change his diaper, change his clothes, feed him, etc. I handled him with the utmost caution. Yes I had been doing all of this since he was born, but he had been a NICU preemie so there were nurses who helped me handle him in the hospital so I felt more at ease. At home we didn’t have the comfort of the NICU monitors telling us Noah was breathing OK, eating OK, sleeping OK, etc. So at home our stress levels were at an all-time high. But although I was occupied with Noah, my mind and heart were constantly thinking about Nikoh, who was still battling it out in the NICU…predominately by himself. We still didn’t have an exact date as to when he would go home, so being away from him made the waiting game SO much more intense than when Noah and Nikoh were side-by-side in the NICU.

Nikoh was “Baby B” – born second and although he weighed a few more ounces than Noah when they were born, he was always a little weaker and less developed than Noah. Since he was born I often refer to Nikoh as “the dark horse.” Because although he would sometimes fall behind in his progress, there were days where he would come out of nowhere and essentially “catch up.” Nikoh had to stay in the NICU those 10 extra days because he needed more time to reach his NICU milestones before he could come home. One of his biggest obstacles was learning to tolerate his 24 hour feedings. Essentially he had to feed for 24 hours, and his body had to accept the amount of ounces the nurses set for him every two hours. Sometimes he would lack the energy to complete his feedings, sometimes he would fall asleep, and sometimes the breast milk wouldn’t digest properly in his tiny stomach…so it took him awhile to be able to achieve the 24 hour completion of feedings. He also needed a blood transfusion for an infection he developed in the NICU which also set him back a couple of days. It was frustrating to see him take one step forward, and two steps back. He was a lone warrior during those 10 days, and he made me, his daddy and his twin brother Noah SUPER proud.

I would call to check on Nikoh several times a day, asked the nurses to tell him his mommy loved and missed him. I also got a detailed report about Nikoh’s progress from my husband who visited him every night after work for those 10 days. I was only able to visit him a handful of times. I left Noah either with my mom, or my sister, a handful of times while I visited Nikoh for a few hours, and on Easter we decided we had to spend their first holiday with both of them. So my parents spent Easter at our house with Noah, and gave my husband and I the chance to spend half of the day in the NICU with Nikoh. Being their first actual holiday, in true twin style, we dressed them exactly the same and made sure to take their Easter picture. In the NICU my husband and I spent Easter kangarooing with Nikoh, although I held him most of the time since I hadn’t seen him very much. We fed him, changed him, and did all of the things new parents typically get to in the comfort of their homes on their baby’s first holiday. When we got home, we spent the rest of the night taking care of, cuddling and loving Noah.

Although we were thankful to be able to spend time with both of our babies on Easter, it was heartbreaking to leave Nikoh in the hospital that night.

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(Nikoh in the NICU on Easter 2014)

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(Noah at home on Easter 2014)

Those 10 days felt like an eternity. But we made it and most importantly, Nikoh made it through like a little warrior.

His discharge day kind of “just happened,” all of a sudden, on a day we least expected it. Much like the day Noah was discharged. The thing that is so weird about having a baby, or in our case babies, in the NICU is that from the second they are born you want to take them home so bad. While they are in the NICU you spend every waking minute cheering them on, praying and hoping for their discharge day. But then it comes and all of a sudden you start second guessing, “Are they really OK to come home? Are they strong enough? Will they be OK? Should they stay a couple more days in the NICU? Will I be able to give them the care they need?”

In all honesty it’s the biggest emotional roller coaster I had ever been on..and there is nothing you can do, or anyone can say, to prepare you for all of the emotions, all of the highs and lows, that come with being a NICU parent. It’s terrifying and beautiful at all the same time.

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But when the NICU journey is over, you come out of it a stronger person and hands down a stronger, more-prepared PARENT…

Nikoh’s last moments in the NICU felt less emotional to me than Noah’s final day there. I still cried, but all of my tears were out of happiness. I was ECSTATIC to walk out of the NICU knowing my babies NEVER had to spend one more night away from me and their daddy. But on Noah’s last day I cried so much out of sadness because we had to leave Nikoh there, and so when it was finally his turn to go home ALL of the tears were out of sheer joy!

Nikoh had been moved out of the NICU into an “overflow” NICU nursery a few days before he was discharged. Since he was close to graduation and the NICU was filling up fast with new preemies, his nurses felt he was strong enough to have less observation. So although he was still monitored by NICU nurses and doctors, when he was discharged he wasn’t in the actual NICU. And because of that, he didn’t have the type of emotional “send-off” that Noah had. The nurses didn’t come say bye to him (except for the two that had been monitoring him in the overflow nursery), and we didn’t have any family waiting in the lobby to meet him. But it was still the best day of our life, as was Noah’s discharge day. As the nurse wheeled him to the car, I walked alongside his crib and stared at him in amazement. He had gone through so much, and while we were by his side for most of it, a lot of his work in the NICU was done on his own. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I approached the hospital’s exit. We had literally lived there since March 26, 2014 and now it was time to go home and not look back.

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(Nikoh was placed in his car seat and wheeled out to our car.)

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When I found out I was pregnant, I NEVER even though about premature birth and I knew very little about it. It’s incredible how something you never think about can end up having such a tremendous impact on your life.

Although my babies are now home and thriving at 10 months old – 8 months adjusted age – they will ALWAYS be premature twins and likely always have to work a little bit harder at reaching developmental milestones. And just like in the NICU my husband and I will be there every moment of their life to help them achieve every dream and every feat, big and small.

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XO~ Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy

Noah Goes Home, Nikoh Stays in the NICU #bittersweet

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From the day our twin baby boys were born and nestled into the NICU, nurses began prepping my husband and I for the reality that Noah and Nikoh WOULD go home at separate times.

When the day finally came — 24 days after they were born — it was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once and we were nowhere near emotionally prepared.

Noah was discharged on April 18, 2014 from the NICU, 10 days before Nikoh. I remember that morning so vividly. I was getting ready to go to the hospital and visit my babies when my cell phone rang. I immediately recognized the hospital’s phone number and my heart sank, “Oh gosh I hope the babies are OK,” I said to myself. (The hospital typically never called us unless their was a negative change in Noah and Nikoh’s progress) But to my surprise the nurse had the best news, “Hi Mrs. Jaime, Noah is ready to go home today. What time can you be here to pick him up?”

Just like that, our Baby Noah was strong enough to go home. She made it sound so simple!

But how could such a milestone, a day my husband and I had dreamt about for so long be here already? It had felt like Noah and Nikoh had been in the NICU forever, yet when I received the phone call “that moment” seemed to have come so fast.

Tears immediately began falling from my eyes, and my heart was racing. A mixture of emotions overcame my body. Happiness, anxiety, nervousness, excitement and sadness as I wondered what Noah’s discharge meant for Baby Nikoh?

Born two months premature, Noah and Nikoh progressed at different stages, developed and advanced at different times (read more about that in my previous blogs). Typically when one had a bad day, the other had a good day so it was constant highs and lows for us as parents in the NICU. Normally when we were celebrating one baby’s achievements, we were struggling with the other’s setbacks. Although we knew they’d be discharged at separate times, we were never given a date or even a time frame to expect when they would be able to go home. That’s why it was such a big surprise when we were told Noah was ready to “graduate” from the NICU.

Everyday we would ask their doctor, “When will Noah and Nikoh come home? Are they almost ready to come home? What do they need to achieve before they can come home?” And like I have written in previous blogs, the answer from the nurses and doctors were always, “It’s up to Noah and Nikoh and how they progress. We can’t give you a time frame, we take it day by day and see how they do.”

So the phone call regarding Noah’s discharge was totally unexpected because their conditions literally changed from one hour to the next.

My plan for Noah’s discharge day had to change instantly. Normally I would spend the entire day in the NICU visiting with Noah and Nikoh, and waiting for my husband to join us at night once he was out of work. I called him right away and told him Noah was ready to go home, so he scrambled to get to the hospital as soon as he could.

It all happened so fast.

Noah’s car seat was already sitting underneath his crib in the NICU waiting to take him home. A few days before Noah was released he was required to take and pass a car seat test, which checked his heart and breathing while he sat in it to make sure the positioning was safe for him to ride home. One of their nurses gave me a packet of papers about one inch thick that needed signatures, and had a ton of information, the “Do’s and “Don’ts” for preemies which we had learned during our time in the NICU, but it was still extremely overwhelming.

As I was prepping Noah to go home, cleaning out his crib, taking down his name tag, peeling off our photos, packing his diaper bag and dressing him, I looked over at Nikoh in his incubator. I was so sad. I felt so bad. I wondered if he knew I was about to leave him behind? Did he know his twin brother Noah was getting to go home? Was he going to “feel” alone and sad?

My heart was torn apart. My tears never stopped. It was almost too much for me to handle. Several nurses tried to calm me down, they hugged me and told me Nikoh wouldn’t be far behind and would be home “soon.” They told me now Noah would need me at home with him. But how was I going to walk out of the NICU without Nikoh? It felt so unnatural, I couldn’t bare the thought of taking one of my babies home and leaving my other baby behind.

I walked over to Nikoh’s incubator so many times during those few hours, watched him as he slept, rubbed his forehead, cheeks, hands, feet and back with my hands as he slept. I held him when he woke up, I fed him, changed him and rocked him back to sleep. I talked to him and told him I loved him, how proud I was of him and how I was counting down the days until he would come home too. I cried as I told him I didn’t want to leave him, but I had to take his big brother home. I explained to him that I wouldn’t be able to see him anymore everyday, but told him that daddy would be there everyday and that I would call to check on him every day and night, and several times in between. I asked him to not be sad without his brother, and instead to stay strong and keep growing so he could come home with us as soon as possible.

(This is some of what I remember telling him:)
“I love you my Nikoh Baby. I’m not leaving you my love, but you won’t see me for a few days. I will visit you in your dreams and I will send my hugs and kisses through daddy. I’ll be praying for you, thinking about you, getting things ready for you at home and sending you milk to help you keep growing strong.”

When the nurses told me I shouldn’t return to the NICU to visit Nikoh, but instead should stay home with Noah I felt so confused. What new mom is told she shouldn’t be with her preemie baby everyday? He needed me, they both needed me. But how could I be at two places at once? There was no way. Noah couldn’t return to the NICU, and Nikoh wasn’t ready to go home. So how does a mother chose between two babies who need her equally the same?

It was heart-wrenching. I’ve never felt so much sadness.

But after a lot of tears, words of love and support from my husband, the nurses explained more, and it made a TINY bit of sense.

“Nikoh has a whole team of doctors and nurses focused on him, watching and monitoring him 24/7,” one nurse told me. “Noah ONLY has you. You need to give him all of your attention and take extra good care of him. He needs you for everything.”

Of course the explanation didn’t make it much easier to leave Nikoh in the NICU, but it gave me some reassurance that he would be in excellent hands. As it turned out, I didn’t visit Nikoh daily, but there were a couple of times that I left Noah with my parents or sister so I could go back to the NICU and see him. There was no way I couldn’t see him for 10 days straight! We even spent half of Easter day with Nikoh in the NICU. And although I felt useless to him while I was at home with Noah, I continued to send him breast milk daily to help keep him strong and growing. And that made me feel better knowing I was still helping and being there for him through the NICU journey.

When it was time for us to take Noah home, his nurses gathered in the NICU to say goodbye to him and I could barely contain my emotions. It was so overwhelming. As we put Noah in his car seat, I asked if he could say goodbye to his brother. A very sweet nurse took Nikoh out of his incubator, carefully untangling his wires and gently sat him on top of Noah’s lap. It was one of the most bittersweet moments I’ve ever experienced. It’s a story I will tell them forever.

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As we wheeled Noah out of the NICU, his carseat was placed in the crib and his nurse pushed him through the labor and delivery waiting room. I followed behind and was so surprised and happy when I saw my parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece and nephew standing there waiting to FINALLY see Noah.
Although my parents were allowed to visit my babies in the NICU, the rest of our family had never seen my babies in person so that moment meant EVERYTHING to me. Everyone had waited to meet Noah and Nikoh for so long, and now they were able to see Noah in person. My sister Nubia immediately burst into tears and kept saying, “Oh my God, hi baby. Hi baby. I love you.”

So many smiles, and so much love. I indulged in that moment of happiness because Noah deserved it, he worked for it for so long.

It was a moment I will never forget….

We said our goodbyes to my family, put Noah into the car and headed home. I stared at him the entire time, held his hand and constantly made sure he was breathing. At the same time, I was talking to Nikoh in my mind and telling him half of my heart remained with him in the NICU. I asked him again to be brave, keep fighting and never forget that mommy, daddy and Noah are yearning to have him home where he belonged.

Bittersweet…

Fast forward 8 months later to today Dec. 10, 2014, I get to spend ever minute with both Noah and Nikoh at home. They are the best of friends, the sweetest, happiest twin boys and I can’t wait to tell them all about their NICU journey and how they indeed conquered it together.

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XO~Noah & Nikoh’s Mommy