Introducing the NICU
After being in recovery for God-knows how long, it was time to meet the triplets. I can’t quite recall in what order we met them…but since Babies A and C had no names yet (B was our boy), we had to meet them and give them their names. All I know is I couldn’t hold them… all three were whisked away from Labor and Delivery, up to meet the angels on the 9th floor, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They would spend an average of 3 months in this special ward before coming home to Canastota.
Baby A entered this world at 555 grams… that’s 1 lb, 4 oz. Tiny, mighty, and with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen on a newborn, she was named Gretchen. Gretchen Estelle. A nice strong name to fit her personality. She was a spitfire and she still is. She was hooked up to so many machines and tubes it was mind-boggling. But so were the other three.
Baby B, our boy, was named after my father, Theodore, who passed in 1999. Theodore Nicholas. He too would have a strong name. He was so fair, and light, and the least prepared for life outside the womb. (He was just getting comfortable they say.) He weighed in at 1500 grams or 2 lbs, 10 oz. But, as history shows, caucasian boys in the NICU have the toughest time and so did he. He was on oxygen the longest, and, in fact, needed support when he came home. But here was my little boy and I couldn’t believe we waited so long to do this!
Baby C, little Miss Stubborn, was named Olena. Olena Cecilia. Olena is Helen in Ukrainian and she is named after Rob’s mom. Cecilia after my mom’s sister who I fondly remember. She got the Ukie name because of her personality. Her spunk also got her into trouble we would find out later when she repeatedly extubated herself in the NICU, causing scarring to her airway — meaning that for a while she would get croup at the drop of a hat We’re talking zero to blue in a matter of nanoseconds! She weighed in at 1050 grams or approximately 2 lb ,4 oz.
One Step Forward, Two (Sometimes Three) Steps Back
I’m not going to go into details from the NICU days. It was quite an experience. Along with the many gains we made, sometimes several a day, we also took several steps back. It was a long, rough road plagued by sleep deprivation (I was, in fact, nursing…it was the most I could do for my triplets). We spent an average of three months in the NICU working our way from nursery A, the extremely high risk nursery, to nursery H and, eventually, home. The last triplet to come home was Gretchen. Our little firecracker joined us after having surgery to repair a hernia, on July 4, 2007.
So, family complete, we headed home with the last triplet on July 4. Theodore was home on oxygen therapy. Olena was jaundiced. Gretchen just had surgery. But we were home. I will skip the details of the next few months, the doctors visits, the non-stop eye appointments, the ER visits. Those will be included on an as needed basis.
It is mind-blowing to think that we went from an infertile couple to a family of 5 in one fell swoop. It still amazes me. But we had lots of volunteers and family and friends come out and help. It was non-stop!
It STILL is.
So there’s our background. Short, well, somewhat short…history.