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Parenting is…

large_3566194663 (2)Incredible. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Terrifying. Challenging. Rewarding. Tricky. Testing.

In a word…hard.

What parent hasn’t felt desperate for help, answers, and wisdom in knowing how to raise their child(ren)?

Which of us hasn’t watched a screaming baby who’s been fed, changed, and burped and yet refuses to be calmed or cuddled…at 3am?

What parent hasn’t wondered what in the world to do with a toddler who refuses to go near the potty…and considered how bad it would be for him to actually go to college with Huggies?

Who hasn’t stared back at an 8 year old with an attitude the size of Texas and wondered how she got you to argue back with her for the past five minutes?

Which father hasn’t doubted his ability to lead his daughter through the murky waters of dating relationships?

And what mother hasn’t dreaded the learning curve of not overstepping her married son’s new role?

Exactly.

So since we’re all in the same boat, I thought I’d let you know about this two-day event coming up about which I am super excited:

Redemptive Parenting

428538_477135709027855_805128574_nJoin Benny and Sheree Phillips, a pastor and wife with seven children, eleven grandchildren and authors of five books on parenting and related topics, as they host “Redemptive Parenting”, a free two-day event that will equip and envision parents of kids of all ages.

“I remember being a young parent and drawing on the wisdom and experience of other seasoned parents. Now that Sheree and I have grandchildren, we believe more than ever that parents need to make use of good counsel and effective resources to be successful. This seminar is designed to equip parents to embrace the task God has given them. We want to model and communicate the grace that God has shown us through the gospel to our children,” — Benny Phillips

The seminar will take place Friday night and Saturday morning, June 14-15 and will feature a session for women by Sheree Phillips, who homeschooled seven children, co-authored two books with Benny and wrote three books of her own on the topics of womanhood and motherhood. The schedule also allots time for an bennypreachinginteractive period of questions and answers. The seminar promises an opportunity for interaction with seasoned parents who have experienced the full range of parental failures and successes.

About the Speakers: Benny Phillips has been a pastor for 33 years and married to Sheree for 40 years. Benny and Sheree co-authored Raising Kids Who Hunger for God and Walking With the Wise. Sheree also authored Mothers At the Heart of Life, A Royal Calling and The High Calling of Motherhood.

So pretty much this is an event for anyone who is a parent, right? No matter how you got your kids, when you got them, why you got them (ha!) or where…this is for you. And me. For us!

You can register here for this free event, hosted by Redeemer Church in Lake Nona.

Whether or not you’re local, this video will hopefully encourage you. Weary parents, take heart: there is grace for us and God is at work!

photo credit: hapal via photopin cc

 

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Mother’s Day Is…

Mother’s Day Is…

Like you, I was hit by a tsunami of “I love my mother” posts on all the social media sites. It was precious seeing everyone’s baby pictures, all of the “you’re the best mother in the world” declarations, etc. And I loved seeing all the women honored – women who have sacrificed bodies, careers and unending hours of time to produce and care for and love their children.

However, I found myself tossed by different emotions and thoughts. It seems to me that Mother’s Day is actually very similar to every other day before it and after it! (Bear with me here – I have only celebrated a few Mother’s Days, ok? I’m new at this. =) I mean, right? Would you agree that Mother’s Day is:

Breakfast with my three fave M&Ms ever!

Breakfast with my three fave M&Ms ever!

wiping snotty noses.
taking a nap.
picking up sticky, spilling sippy cups out of a puddle of milk on the floor.
having lunch made for you.
breaking up a fight…again.
waking sleepy children from naptime.
giving consequences for disobedience.
getting snuggles.
planning meals for the day.
a sweet card.
midnight-waking babies.
a frozen ice-cream yumminess treat.
changing diapers.
a day to worship with others.
a day to need grace, patience and mercy.
a reminder of blessings.

Mother’s Day isn’t just the pictures of flowers and coffee-retreats, the esteeming and adoring posts or the happy children racing to do our every beck and call. No, Mother’s Day is oftentimes just like any other day: a day to cherish the good, the bad and the ugly. A day to fulfill the calling given us by the One Who helps us each step of the way. A day to appropriate the much-needed grace and to enjoy the tidbits of a break or the sloppy kisses at the encouragement of a husband.

Mother’s Day is over. Until next year. But every day in between I have the opportunity to be encouraged, honored and loved. In a million different ways, if I’ll look for them.

Ohmysoul, I love their sticky, cranky, smiley, giggling faces!

Ohmysoul, I love their sticky, cranky, smiley, giggling faces!

My sweet girl!

My sweet girl!

Baby Girl can whistle. Oh, yes she can!

Baby Girl can whistle. Oh, yes she can!

The babies began passing out the cards to the mommies.

The babies began passing out the cards to the mommies.

Baby Girl took her job very seriously. =)

Baby Girl took her job very seriously. =)

Apparently Noah is confused...

Apparently Noah is confused…

Who knows? =)

Who knows? =)

Oh, how I love the three who made me a mommy!

Oh, how I love the three who made me a mommy!

How do you see your children honoring you on this Ordinary Day?

 

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Little Daycare in the Suburbs, part 2

Little Daycare in the Suburbs, part 2

Welcome back! If you’re just joining us, check out the first part of Little Daycare in the Suburbs. And if you’ve found us from Intoxicated on Life, hi!!! Be sure to like us on Facebook so you can get updates on the three M&M’s and each new post that comes along! Oh, and leave a comment so I can “meet” you! Can’t wait! =)

So. Why is it so hard to leave triplets with a sitter? Glad you asked! Here’s why:

It is physically exhausting. Loading three babies into highchairs (12 times), out of them (12 times), onto a changing table (18 times), off of it (18 times), into cribs (9 times), out of them (9 times), into the stroller (3 times), out of it (3 times)…it is exhausting. (That’s a full-on workout!! And mine “only” weigh 22 lbs!) And of course they aren’t all happily watching you cart one kid around…oh no. It often sounds like a daycare class. I challenge anyone who isn’t rattled by crying babies to join a MoM one afternoon. =)

My former boss, Benny, watching the babies with his wife, Sheree.

My former boss, Benny, watching the babies with his wife, Sheree.

It is hard to discern the needs of one toddler, let alone three. Remember that language thing? Yeah, there are three different dialects going on and I oftenoftenoften times cannot remember who says what, or who uses which sign or word for which item.

It is a lot of diapers. One wake-time is six diapers…six. More if you forget you already changed that one. Less if you forget you haven’t changed that one all day. I did this. Last week.

It is necessary to be structured. I have one nursery and three babies. One up, all up. One down, all down. And of course the babies all cooperate with this. Right.

It is confusing. What do you do when one baby wakes and cries? Is another going to wake before she settles back down? If two or more wake, what do you do? These are just some of the questions David and I ask ourselves. Still. It often takes the both of us to settle two babies down.

It is expensive. I’ll be honest. And frank. Frank is good, right? Paying a sitter is a new thing for our skinny budget…paying two sitters is even more daunting.

It is…well, you get the picture, right? =)

Two arms...two babies!

Two arms…two babies!

Of course, the fact that I have breastfed the babies has made it doubly difficult to get out because our schedule is just naturally tight. You can see a typical schedule here – except the 4pm nursing and the 11pm nursing are no longer! Before this, though…my get-out-of-the-house opportunities were even more limited. But, lest you think I’m complaining about breastfeeding and its limitations…I am not. I have loved it. I recognize it is a very short season and am ok with those limitations. David has been incredibly patient with me and was happy to fit in date nights after the babies went to bed and before I needed to be back to feed them at 11pm. Since we dropped those feedings, though, it’s been amazing! Which leads me to:

Sitters

Our friends - Joe & Kristen with their son, AJ!

Our friends – Joe & Kristen with their son, AJ!

Amazingly, we have been able to get out for date nights about 1-2 times a month for about a year! Granted, those date nights were usually just long enough for dinner and maybe an errand. But my parents have been heroes – coming over so often to play with the babies and then shoo us out the door after they were in bed. Other than them, our dear friends, Benny and Sheree, watched them for our second anniversary dinner (yes, you read that right – second). And some other dear friends, Joe and Kristen, kept the babies for a short afternoon and we came back to feed them before leaving again for a couple hours. Of course there was our first overnight getaway that my parents kicked us out for. In the past week or so, we’ve had two amazing teens from our church and then Katherine stay with the sleeping M&Ms (remember – she was a preschool teacher!!!).

Papa walking the grand-triplets.

Papa walking the grand-triplets.

Pretty much that’s it. Four non-grandparent sitters in 18 months. =) And that’s ok! There have been lots of things I’ve had to say no to over the past year and a half, but it means I’m saying yes to what is necessary for our situation. God has blessed us with three babies at once, and with them came unique challenges. But there is grace for these challenges. I definitely have to fight bad attitudes and a “need a break” mentality at times. But for the most part, He has orchestrated in my heart a love for the home and a desire to care for my babies during a season when few others can!

That being said, I’m currently in the process of working with some great girls who will hopefully, some day!, become the M&M’s babysitters! Won’t that be the day!! What should I do? Any suggestions? =)

MoMs, do you have any thoughts or suggestions? For those of you who are still pregnant with multiples, let me encourage you that there can truly be an incredible amount of grace for the massive work and unique challenges your babies will be. Few MoMs get to do what we do and it is a privilege! Amen?! =) Please let me know if you have not yet found an active community of other MoMs online and would like to join one. What a source of help we can be to one another!!!

Oh, and while you’re here…would you take a second and click the button below to vote for us? See, we’re in this contest competing with other blogging moms of multiples and would love your vote. And, if you reallyreally love us, you can vote once a day!

 

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What To Expect – In the NICU {an interview, part 2}

Welcome back! We’re discussing what parents can expect during a NICU stay and are interviewing a couple of wonderful nurses our babies had during our stay. If you missed Part 1 of this interview, you can catch up really quickly here. All caught up? Great! Ok, let’s jump back in:

Laura and Mandy

Laura is above. Mandy is below, with the newest addition to their family: Ainsley!

So how beneficial is kangaroo-care, really?

Mandy: Very beneficial! It can contribute to a decrease in hospital stay for your baby(ies). Just ask the nurse if it is a good day to hold your baby. There are some days where it is not the best day or time to hold the baby due to medical reasons, such as excessive apnea/bradycardia spells, recent work up for infection, general instability, blood transfusion, etc., so it is important to ask the nurse caring for your baby if it is appropriate to hold your baby that day.

What do parents do if the nurses say they can’t touch or hold their baby(ies)?

Laura helping me give Noah a bath for the first time - under the warming lights!

Laura helping me give Noah a bath for the first time – under the warming lights!

Laura: There will be times this request is made, occasionally after a stressful day for the babies, due to a medical procedure or situation. Your baby may need a period of rest. Ask when it will be advisable to hold the baby again. And if you feel the current situation doesn’t warrant a no-touch time, feel free to ask the charge nurse for another RN to check into the situation. This way, even though you may really want to hold your baby, you can feel confident that for the time being it is best that the baby rest undisturbed. While touch can be SO beneficial, there are times when it can physically evoke stress responses, visible through the baby’s increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.

Mandy: I agree – usually there is a good reason if the nurse asks you to not hold your baby that day. Most times it is still ok to touch your baby. There are ways to touch a preemie without disturbing them (talking very quietly, minimal stroking or “petting”, etcc) and your nurse can teach you how to appropriately touch. It is important to remember that they might look tiny and cute, but they are very sick and this should be respected.

If a mom plans to breastfeed, what can she do if the baby is too early to breastfeed?

David giving a bottle - before we knew what we were doing!

David giving a bottle – before we knew what we were doing!

Laura: A lactation consultant and/or your bedside nurse will work with you to facilitate education regarding pumping breast milk.  Breast milk will always be a first choice. Initially it may be through a feeding tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth that leads to the stomach. This may look and sound scary but this is very common early on in the NICU. As the baby grows, a nipple can then be introduced, typically a bottle and then the breast, as the baby is ready.

Mandy: Breast milk is crucial for premature babies to receive. In fact, if the baby is born less than 1500 grams (or less than 30 weeks) and the mom is unable to provide breast milk, we use donated breast milk for the babies! Early feedings are very important for the babies, and breast milk helps them to tolerate these early feedings much better. There are antibodies in breast milk that cannot be found anywhere else. These antibodies help premature babies, who have a very lowered immune system (think: chemotherapy patient), to fight off infections. Infections are one of a premature baby’s most common complications.

But the babies are so tiny sometimes. What can a mom do if she can’t figure out breastfeeding?

One of the nurses feeding one of the babies while David and I fed two others - it took all of us!

One of the nurses feeding one of the babies while David and I fed two others – it took all of us!

Laura: Breastfeeding a tiny baby is going to be a journey! Together with your nurse and lactation, we will help as much as we can, based on the baby’s abilities at the time. As the baby grows and you become more comfortable, the process should become increasingly more successful. This may take months. Pump as you can to maintain your supply, and practice frequently with the babies. Lactation appointments after discharge (NICU baby or not) can be very helpful in supporting this oh so wonderful, but delicate process.

Mandy: We are here to help! Premature babies have the added challenge of not having the innate process of sucking, swallowing, and breathing in proper order yet, and must also learn how to complete this task. Breastfeeding can be harder for a premature baby initially, because it is more work to learn how to latch, and they have to produce more negative pressure with their suck to extract the milk, whereas the milk from a bottle comes out much more easily. However, it is much easier for a premature infant to breastfeed, once these tasks are learned, due to the fact that they are able to regulate the flow of milk coming out much easier while breastfeeding. I have found that it is a much slower start, but breastfed babies tend to learn how to eat faster than all bottle fed babies, due to the positive experience they get from it. Be available for feedings as often as possible, as the more time at the breast, the sooner it will be learned. Initially, the baby will only be eating once a day, then twice a day, etc. as they do better with it, so be sure to tell the nurse you are interested in breastfeeding for those sessions. Bottles will be used to supplement afterward, and for any feedings where the mother is unavailable. But again, any time at the breast is a learning experience, and the more, the better.

What happens when the parents aren’t there?

Laura: This is a hard thought, I’m sure. Having to walk away from your tiny babe will be one of the hardest things, every.single.time. But my, oh my, your baby has a skilled set of caregivers…the best baby sitters you will ever have! Your baby will continue to feed every 3-4 hours, receive needed therapies, treatments, and medications. Most hospitals also have volunteers whose job is to cuddle babies when they are in need of some TLC. You are also welcome to call at any time of day for an update on your baby!

Mandy: Also, assessments are completed every six hours on your baby (blood pressure, temperature, etc.). We change diapers every 3-6 hours, depending on how stable the baby is (the less stable the baby, the less frequently we will be touching them, in order to provide rest). If anything extremely out of the ordinary is going on with your baby, we will contact you.

As a NICU mom, I think one of the biggest unspoken questions I had was “do you enjoy taking care of my babies?

My NICU Visitor stickers for nearly a month!

My NICU Visitor stickers for nearly a month!

Laura: YES! So much. As mentioned above, this is a common thread among NICU nurses. We love our babies, and even become protective over them and their well-being. We want to see them grow and thrive! NICU staff turnover is the lowest in the hospital; it’s said once you go NICU you never go back.  This is not to say you will love all of your nurses, or feel everyone is super friendly, all the time.  I hope that’s your experience, but know that even nurses I didn’t care for personally as coworkers— are still people I would still trust with my baby.

Mandy: Most all of the nurses in NICU have a true passion for what we do, and love our job (or we wouldn’t be there!). Take comfort in knowing that we treat your baby just as we would our own, and really invest our hearts and souls into the care of your baby…and you. Your bad days are our bad days (even if we have our professional mask on). Yes, we go home and cry – we feel your emotions, too. We laugh with you, cry with you, worry with you. We feel these things because we love what we do!

Lastly, what is one thing you wish you could broadcast to every parent going into the NICU?

Our First Family Picture!

Our First Family Picture! The babies were one week old!

Laura: Ok it’s more than one thing… (1) Pray hard. This is a time where you will quickly realize that any control you thought you had is totally gone. Trust your baby to the Lord. (2) I am always encouraged when I see families on the other side of the NICU, with toddlers running around. It warms my heart so much, and reminds me why I do what I do. The NICU experience can be intense, and life changing – for sure—but it is a season. It will not last forever. (3) Be cautious of what you research online and whose stories you listen to. Every experience is SO different, every baby comes with unique circumstances— and, chances are, the way things played out for someone else’s baby is not going to be your story.  Work closely with your caregivers to receive the most accurate information about your baby’s specific circumstances. Family meetings are available for further discussion and education—you can get good one on one time with the provider this way.

Mandy: Take it ONE day at a time! It is going to be the wildest rollercoaster ride of your life, but taking each day as it comes helps to deal with it better. The nurses and doctors are here for you, and it’s important to remember that we are on your side. Please ask lots of questions (write them down as you think of them) if you don’t understand anything, instead of keeping it inside and letting it upset you. We are here to help, and want to help! Be there for your baby any way you can, but also try to get away to keep yourself emotionally centered.

Wow! I hope this interview is helpful to you (feel free to share with others who are in the NICU or may be entering a NICU stay!). This has brought back a flood of memories, some good and some bad. But they are parts of our babies’ lives – parts of our lives as we learned to trust God in new ways. Mandy and Laura were two of many wonderful nurses who made our month-long stay just that much easier.

Thank you so much, ladies, for serving countless families by taking the time to do this!

The babies at Easter - 18 months old!

The babies at Easter – 18 months old!

Were/are you a NICU parent? How did a nurse affect your stay? I’d love to hear your NICU stories!!! Or do you have a question for Mandy and Laura?

Would you click the link above to vote for us? And if you want, you can vote every day (from multiple devices!) through May 8! Thank you SO much for helping us out! =)

 

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Forty Years in the Making

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Benny was one of the officiates at our wedding.

Every once in a while you encounter a moment in time that you realize will be life-altering. You know the kind? Life is just happening…when all of a sudden it dawns on you that this present moment is a bit bigger than you had thought.

I’ve had several moments like these. Most recently, was when I learned that I was carrying triplets. The world around me stopped and life as I knew it – life as I’d hoped, planned and dreamed it – was shattered. (The Good News Is – It’s Triplets)

These moments can be good but they can also be terrifying and tempt us with serious doubts, worry and flat-out fear. But I think even in these scary, life-altering moments we can be propelled towards a more Christ-honoring response as we become aware of how others around us have been carried through difficult times like the one through which we are about to walk.

Saturday night held a good life-altering moment for me. David and I were super excited to celebrate our dear friends’, Benny and Sheree’s, 40th anniversary that evening. Prior to having the babies, Benny was one of my bosses at Metro Life Church and Sheree and I worked closely on many ladies’ events for years. They were heavily involved in meeting with the two of us for pre-marital counseling and instrumental in our short post-marriage relationship. To say that we love them dearly and respect them highly would be an understatement.

But that’s only how they affected us.

Forty years of marriage to the same person is an amazing length of time in this day and age. Think about it…how many 50-60-somethings do you know who are still madly in love with the same person they married in their teens? Sadly, there are statistics that say that as much as 90% of couples will be divorced before their 40th anniversary!

Forty years is also a very long time to affect other people’s lives. And this is where the “aha” moment happened for me.

The evening began with some individuals honoring them for the way they loved God, served the church, invested in their family, made sacrifices, and loved one another. …And this theme was repeated over and over for an hour and a half. It was truly incredible to hear person after person – even some relationships from several decades ago! – sharing how affected they had been by various aspects of their lives. We’re talking kids who came to Christ because of their involvement in their broken homes. And people who chose to ignore the culture’s mocking voice that many children are tedious and impossible…and welcomed many children into their home because of Benny and Sheree’s example. And people who watched them walk through intense suffering, only to emerge bitterness-free and still trusting in their Saviour…giving these individuals hope for their own struggles. And people who saw major sacrifices later in life when many are getting comfy with empty nests. People who saw a woman following a man, laying down her own desires to see his dreams fulfilled – and finding her own desires being fulfilled in new ways. People who saw a man love his wife in the little things, both from the pulpit and with the dishes in the sink. People who saw a couple loving God more than comfort, ease, reputation and accomplishments. And their children rose up and called them blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

{Enter my life-altering moment.}

You see, the people at the celebration that night were not viewing this couple through rose-colored glasses. No. We have lived life with this couple and their family. We’ve seen the sin. The tears. The offenses. We know and have been affected by some of their flaws…as they have been affected by ours. But underneath it all, motivating them for 40 years through intense life circumstances, has been a love for God and a passion for His church.

Is all I do fueled by a love for God?

Or am I more concerned with how others view me? By what people will say about my accomplishments after I’m gone? By how obedient my children are? By how successful we are in raising three teens at once? Am I more aware of the present moment than I am of the eternal weight that this present moment has?

Do I love Him above all else? When my husband asks me to follow him somewhere, will my response be fueled by a love for God or a desire for ease? When my children hurt me beyond belief, will I respond with trust in God – as I sought to do during the fear of carrying multiples, a high-risk pregnancy?

Do I want to be more like Him than anyone? Am I willing to confess sin, exposing the hollows of my deep and pervasively rebellious heart? Are there any costs too high in pursuing Christlikeness? 

Do I view the church as the highest priority, as Christ does, outside of my marriage and family? Have I allowed my attendance to become a duty? Do I cherish the people inside that building (or in any building across the world that professes Jesus Christ as their Saviour)? Do I allow love to cover a multitude of sins?

Certainly, having all these things in place does not guarantee me a stellar 40th anniversary celebration, thrown by three children who want their marriages and families to reflect ours. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will adore me and that I’ll be as cute as Sheree was this night, dancing with her high school sweetheart. =) But it does paint a picture of a life that has eternal effects. It pulls my view from “the daily” – the endless tantrums and diapers, dishes and laundry – and pushes it towards heaven and the realization that I have the opportunity to affect people (as do we all!) in ways similar to Benny and Sheree.

Benny & Sheree Phillis

Benny & Sheree Phillips

David and I are just starting out. We could barely be more “starting out” than we are with these three 18 month olds. We have the pitter-patter of feet, the grubby hands and the long-but-short childhood and teen years before us. Benny and Sheree have the pitter-patter of grandchildren’s feet and can look back on raising their family with both regrets and happiness…

My hope is that in 37 years, David and I will both be able to look back and see, more often than not, a marriage fueled by a passion and love for God.

Benny and Sheree, happy, happy anniversary. We love you. Like family. ❤

Vote for us? Pretty please??? 🙂

 

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What To Expect – In The NICU {an interview}

Thanks for joining us! We are currently in the middle of a series on Life with Multiples. Today we’ll hear from a couple of ladies who just happen to be two of my favorite nurses while the babies were in the NICU!

While in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a good nurse is more than just a good nurse. She might be a shoulder you cry on, the person you (unexpectedly) share first milestones with, and most likely will become a good friend. Mandy was the babies’ nurse the day we celebrated them turning one week old. And Laura helped me give each of my 4-lb babies a bath for the very first time.

M

Emma, Noah, Makenna

David and I were at the hospital as much as we could be, so we got to know our nurses really well. We were usually there over a shift change, going to eat dinner while they did all the technical stuff and coming back in for one last feeding and diaper-changing. I usually spent a good 8 hours every single day at the hospital – for 30 days. Exhausted beyond imagination, David and I prayed over each baby and said goodnight…and thanked the men and women who remained to care for them. This was one of the hardest things I have had to do as a mom. Who imagines they’ll have to leave their tiny babies’ sides?! Even now it brings tears to my eyes as I remember all the different nurses who loved on and cared for our babies.

We tried to prepare for what life in the NICU would be like but there were so few resources available to us, even a couple short years ago! And they were often written in very clinical terms; so I want to give a more personal look into life in the NICU.

Laura and Mandy, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! How long have you been a nurse and what is your favorite aspect of being a NICU nurse?

Laura was a precious nurse!

Laura was a wonderful nurse!

Laura: I’ve been a nurse for four years. And I love babies – especially newborns. I really enjoy working with families and educating them in terms they can understand during this difficult process. I love giving them a chance to be as involved as possible in their baby’s care – from feeding to bathing etc. I think this is so important, especially in the NICU!

Mandy and the newest addition to their family - Avery!

Mandy and the newest addition to their family – Ainsley!

Mandy: I’ve been a nurse for nine years. And I love meeting new people. My job is never boring. It’s nice to help the families understand what is happening and to help the parents emotionally cope with everything they are dealing with. I really enjoy educating the families on what everything means in the NICU and what they can do to best help their baby(ies) to have the best possible outcome.

As sweet as those newborns are, I’m sure there are many challenging days. What’s the most difficult aspect of being a NICU nurse?

Laura: These babies can, in the beginning, be so fragile. It’s hard to see families leave their baby in the care of others – not knowing how their baby will be doing when they return. No matter how skilled the caregivers, I can’t fathom the feeling of leaving the hospital without my new baby. I have such respect for you Mamas who have endured this day-in and day-out for weeks to months on end.

Mandy: It is always hard to lose a baby, but that is usually rare. I have always thought that we are giving preemies a second chance at life. But if that isn’t God’s will, it is comforting knowing they are no longer suffering.

When parents have an idea they may have some time in the NICU, what are some things they can expect?

Laura: Unfortunately, expectations usually go out the window with the delivery of any baby and the NICU experience is no exception. No one expects to have their baby in an urgent medical situation. But you can expect for your baby to be cared for by a skilled team of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists (speech and physical therapy as needed) … and much more. NICU staff all have one thing in common. They will love your baby. The NICU is overwhelming and emotional. Please visit often. Hold your baby. And ask tons of questions.

Mandy: A wild rollercoaster ride. Some days will be the worst of your life and some days will be the best. In the beginning, it is going to be very hard to see everything your tiny baby is going through. But they are the strongest people I have ever seen. Love really does go a long way: I have seen many babies with poor prognoses do very well because their parents are present and invested in their care. The babies feel the presence of their parents and do much better.

I know we were often torn between how much we wanted to be there and how often we could be there. How often should parents visit?

Laura: As often as you can! Babies are very aware of your touch and smells. Some very fragile babies will require lots of rest time in their isolettes. Hold your baby still to allow good sleep and digestion while bonding.

Mandy: Yes, as often as possible! There is evidence that babies who are held and bond with their parents have shorter hospital stays. Kangaroo the baby(ies) as often as possible, as this will regulate their temperature, breathing, heart rates, blood sugar, and pain levels for hours after holding has been completed. Babies who are given kangaroo care daily, generally go home about two weeks sooner than babies who are not held.

I remember there were soooo many doctors and nurses – any tips on keeping them all straight?

Laura: Whew. That’s a tough one. There will be constant new faces at your baby’s bedside, and hopefully everyone is working together as a team, so you can feel confident that your baby(ies) are receiving consistent care. Kindly point out discrepancies that you notice so we can better take care of your little one!

Mandy: This is a tough one. Our unit has over 150 nurses for both shifts, and many doctors and practitioners. I suggest writing down some notes to help yourself remember. As far as identifying who is who when they enter your room, we have badges on that say whether we are a nurse, nurse practitioner, doctor, etc.

Sometimes it happens: parents want to request a different nurse. What’s the best way to do this?

Laura: Ask to speak with the charge nurse or assistant nurse manager. If you don’t feel comfortable asking this of your current nurse, you could ask the receptionist to connect you with the charge nurse.

What if parents really love a particular nurse – can they request she be assigned to them again?

Laura: Yes, please ask. Different hospitals have different policies, but I think it is beneficial to the families and babies to see that familiar face in a caregiver. This may not always be possible, but when it is – it is a plus! Ask to speak with a charge nurse or assistant nurse manager as they can help with this!

Mandy: We always love to hear positive feedback! Some nurses do not care to have one assignment every time they are working, so do not take it to heart if they respectfully decline. There was a time after I had lost a patient where I did not want to get attached to another patient and didn’t want to “primary” for a while. Everyone has their reasons, so don’t be offended if the answer is no.

The language in the NICU is so hard to comprehend! How can parents understand what the doctors and nurses mean when using all those abbreviations and medical terminology?

Laura: Abbreviations and medical terms are like a whole new language and, no doubt, stressful to try to understand! As nurses and doctors, we are around them all the time and often forget it sounds like we are speaking another language. I try very hard to educate my families regarding terms and treatments their babies receive – in words and descriptions they would understand. Please know you can always ask your healthcare provider to explain things with which you are unfamiliar. Here’s a link to some common terms and abbreviations you may hear.

Should parents sit in on rounds and review their baby’s chart?

Beginning to learn how to care for our tiny 3.5 pound babies!

Learning how to care for our tiny 3.5 pound babies!

Laura: When possible, and offered by the staff, by all means be involved in rounds. As the parent at the bedside, who spends lots of time with your child and who sees a variety of different caregivers, you can bring valuable feedback and information to the practitioners. This process should hopefully give you a chance to offer feedback, share your thoughts, answer questions you may have, and maintain continuity in the care your baby receives.

Mandy: Yes! Rounds in our unit take a few hours to complete. But you are most definitely welcome and encouraged to attend rounds, and ask any questions you may have. If you would like to review your baby or babies’ charts, you can do so at any time, you just need a nurse present with you to be able to access the chart, and to answer any questions you may have about what you are looking at.

I hope this provides a glimpse into life in the NICU and proves helpful to you and your family. Join us next week as Mandy and Laura share on the very important aspect of practically caring for these (oftentimes) tiny babies. In the meantime, do you have a question for either Mandy or Laura? Or a wonderful experience with your baby’s nurse to share? We’d love to hear!

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If You Were Born With Your Siblings…

Any mom can attest to the crazy joys of parenting several children all at once. The fights over…well, everything. The tattling. The “ick” factor. The exhaustion. The laughs… but think back to when you were “one of the kids” growing up. Remember?

Daren as David's best man at our wedding in 2010!

Daren as David’s best man at our wedding in 2010!

Well, the other day David’s identical twin brother, Daren, and his family were at our house. They were in town vacationing and we were super excited to have them visit. Pretty much anytime I’d been with David’s twin was when we were visiting his family in Georgia – David’s home state. And of course pretty much everyone had watched them grow up and were used to their identical-ness. But this time they were on our turf. They came to our church. And people did double-takes. The girl at the check-out counter at the grocery store kept looking at them and finally asked if they were twins. And they replied that they had just met. =)

Which one is which??

Which one is which??

I often forget that the craziness that I deal with on a daily basis (looks, stares, questions, whispers, shouts and pointings) are things that David has always dealt with…with his identical twin brother! Now, take a moment and imagine what it would be like to have a you that’s not…well, you. I mean, I’d love to clone me and just set her loose on cleaning the house every day. But to have an identical me that’s completely different than me? Wow!! And being married to David and being around his brother is sometimes so twilight zone-like! The other day they both said something at the exact same time, with the exact same voice…whoa! And Emma loved snuggling with Uncle D – because he is so like Dada???

Sissies born an exact 18 months apart!

Sissies born exactly 18 months apart!

People get my sister and me mixed up all.the.time. Which is so weird. Because we look nothing alike. Right? We just decided early on to not bother to correct people, to answer to each other’s names. (Cruel, I know.) But being born with your sibling? Growing up as a multiple? Being one of two or three or four or more babies born at one time? Well, if you were then you can attest to the fact that:

Two of you will sit on the same toilet at the same time to pee – without batting an eyelash. Or one will stand to pee between the legs of a sitter.
You can expect to bathe in the same bath water with the sibling that just spit up.
You never have – and never will – bathe alone…especially after you learn to sit up.
You have no concept of a “personal bubble.”
You always have someone to blame your pranks and bad behavior on.
You do not need friends.
You share the same spoon, steal bottles, get crawled over.
You have no boundaries when it comes to imagination and pretend play because there’s always someone the same age as you to play with.
You don’t have to speak to achieve a common goal.
Each night of your childhood is like having an awesome sleepover!
You have a constant side kick and a look-out or an accomplice and an alibi for whatever naughty thing you are about to do!
You get to eat “recycled” food: passed from plate to plate to plate until somebody finally eats it!

You have your own language.
You lose your food if you’re not quick enough.

You will think nothing of smelling a sibling’s bottom (or two) to report to mom who pooped.
You will never really have anything that is just yours.
You have your best friends with you from the day you were born – a bond that no one will understand.
You have a hand or foot being gnawed on by someone other than yourself!
You never want for company… although you may want for silence!
You always have a “best friend” to laugh at you when you bust your butt!
You get your diaper changed – whether you’re dirty or not! – because your brother did.
You laugh and have two others laughing along with you who have no idea why they’re laughing.

You share underwear and clothes.
Your diaper is the only one that doesn’t get changed…in six hours. (This, sadly, was my booger-boy yesterday!)
Your secret middle name is “Wait”…never mind what your birth certificate says!
You sleep in a “pile” and don’t mind it!

What can you add to this list???

Happy Friday, folks! =) Have you liked us yet on Facebook? Give us a shout-out there and tell us what you think about today’s post!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Family, Friday Funnies, Polls, Triplets

 

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