Sonora Standafer’s NICU Story

My twins were born at just 34 weeks and 5 days. It doesn’t seem like too far off of a full term pregnancy but when there are two little babies being created inside you, you know they can use every extra minute, hour, or day left inside you to develop as much as possible.

Being a Mom of Multiples(MoM) you know instantly there is a huge chance that your babies will need to be in the NICU. Now that in itself if scary, but this was extreme circumstances. With the COVID-19 pandemic still keeping safety precautions heightened for safety of everyone this made things extra scary.

My twins were born around 9 pm and were taken immediately to the NICU. There was nothing concerning for the most part compared to other babies that we saw in the NICU or that you hear about. They just needed some extra time to grow and learn how to feed. We stayed in the hospital with them as long as we were allowed because with COVID still posing a threat, once discharged we would only be allowed one parent to visit once a day. When they told us that it is the most heartbreaking thing I thought I had ever heard. As a first time mom I wanted to be there. I wanted to be with my babies. I wanted to see them and touch their soft little skin every day. I wanted to make sure I could be there. I also had to think that it would be selfish of me to not allow their father to be able to see them because I wanted to be there. So we made the choice to alternate days. After four days in the hospital we were finally being discharged and spent some much needed last hours together as a family because we didn’t know how soon we could all be together again. As soon as we started walking out of their room I lost it. The tears started flowing. The nose started running. Every piece of my body felt 10x heavier. Every step away from my babies was terrible and terrifying. 

I returned to the hospital the next day. I had to see them. I couldn’t wait to see them. I had to see for myself that they were alright. The plan was to stay for two cares. Make sure I could check temps, change diapers, and get a good update on how they did over the night. After the second care I just wanted to watch them sleep forever. I didn’t want to leave, but I was also exhausted from crying all night. So after about 4-5 hours of being with them, it was time to go home and rest. I said mommy loves you, gave them a few soft caresses and told them daddy would see them tomorrow. I said thank you and goodbye to our nurse for the day. It hit me again. The tears started. The heaviness on my body as I walked farther and farther from my sweet babies. I felt terrible. Should I stay longer? Did I do enough? They spend more time with the nurses each shift than with me. I should go back. It’s too late, I’ve exited the hospital. I can’t go back. My one visit was over. I collected myself as much as I could in my car and drove home.

This cycle went on for about a week. I cried daily. I missed them. Daddy missed them. We wanted them home. And then after about eight days we got a phone call we never expected. The hospital called us, so instantly my mind went into a state of panic. Something is wrong! Something has happened to my babies! This was the worst feeling I’d ever had in my life. The doctor on the phone explained to us that one of the NICU nurses had come in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID. The racing thoughts got worse. Is one of my babies sick? Are they both sick? Did the nurse get COVID? Why is this happening to me? She continued to explain to us that the nurse was being tested immediately and they would let us know if she was positive. If that was the case, she warned us they would be shutting the NICU down and we would not be able to come for 7-14 days. Remember all those outstanding pregnancy hormones that I have no control over? Yeah, they are raging like the Amazon river people. Again I was in tears thinking about how I would survive if I wasn’t able to be with my babies. Would they be ok? Tomorrow is my day, I’ll just get in there and see them as soon as possible and they won’t be able to tell me I can’t come.

The next morning came after what seemed to be the longest night of my life. And as I was getting ready to go see my babies I packed up a bag with all the things I needed and wanted to bring for them, a phone call again. My partner answered and instantly I knew it was the phone call we had been dreading. He hung up and I came to where he was and he just shook his head. I completely broke down. It’s my day! It was my turn! Why couldn’t I go see my babies?! I cried so hard I had no tears left. I laid in bed all night in such a state of shock and depression. I wanted to see them so badly. I was a terrible mom for not being there with them. The hospital told us they would set up video cameras soon so we could see them and I just hoped it would be soon. This ended up never happening. We called to check on them. We called to ask about the cameras. We called to ask if they would be able to open back up on the seventh day. All we could do is wait. 

After almost two weeks they finally gave us the phone call we had been waiting for. We could come tomorrow. Our baby girl was doing very well and they said we should be able to bring her home if everything goes well over the night. My heart was torn. I want them home but what am I going to do if they are separated. Why wasn’t our boy ready and would he be soon? I was filled with excitement and fear the whole night of course but couldn’t wait for tomorrow morning to arrive.

The next morning I couldn’t get my head on straight. I was trying to make sure we had everything ready. I was trying to make sure the house was ready. And then, another phone call. The first call with nothing but good news. The doctor said our boy had come very far over the night and early hours. If we came later in the day to get baby girl, we should be able to bring baby boy home too! Provided of course he continues to do well the rest of the day. So we prepared some more. I cleaned some more. I relaxed for a split second before we had no more help, and then we left for the hospital. We spent maybe three hours with the twins. They passed all their tests. The nurses gave us bags to pack up all the things. They got the doctor to get the discharge papers for us and ask any last minute questions or needs that we might have. Then our nurse walked us out with our beautiful babies. Every nurse we passed on the way out said their oohs and aahs and “goodbye twins” as we strolled past with them safely strapped in their car seats in the stroller. It was time. The sliding glass door closed behind us and we had finally done it. The tears started to flow one last time. I was happy we had our babies. I was scared that anything and everything was going to happen. With a brief look back, I pushed the button for the elevator and we made our way out of the hospital and to the car. Our world was forever changed and we had finished one of the most difficult experiences a mother can imagine. I also knew the time had come for the next difficult experience, surviving with them at home for the next 18 years.

Thank you to the outstanding NICU nurses and doctors that took such good care in delivering and taking care of our babies. Well wishes to all the moms going through this struggle currently and my heart is with you. For the mother’s, fathers, families, everyone who had been through this I just want to say thank you for being a support system for my family and I during our time.