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The Story of Harper and Harrison, As Told by Their Mom, Erin

My twins were born at 25 weeks and 2 days. One daughter and one son. Harper weighed 1 lb 12 oz and Harrison weighed 1 lb 6 oz. The first time I laid eyes on the twins was from my hospital bed, as I was recovering from my c-section.  Seeing their tiny bodies with wires and tubes protruding from them was terrifying. When I finally recovered enough to visit them in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the terror I felt was still there, but was now coupled with awe as I realized how much strength those little bodies held.

The beginning of the twins’ NICU stay was extremely emotional as I came to terms with the struggles facing my little babies. The bad days were hard to bounce back from. Within the first few weeks of life, Harper had some issues with her gut (spontaneous intestinal perforation) and an x-ray revealed that she had air in it. They inserted a small straw into her belly to release the excess air. Our son Harris had stage 1 retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which eventually healed on its own. He had to be on oxygen his entire stay in the NICU and came home on oxygen. However, we are happy to report that he was able to come off oxygen 3 weeks after coming home. Both babies had patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), which fortunately closed on their own and didn’t require surgery.

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While we were dealing with our new reality of having our babies in the NICU, we also were caring for our preschool-aged son, Hayden. My days consisted of dropping him off at preschool and hauling myself to the hospital for morning rounds with the staff. I would then go home to work. After dinner my husband and I would return to the hospital to see the twins. When we were finally were able to hold them, my husband and I would rotate going at night to ensure that the babies had skin-to-skin contact each night. On the weekends, we would get a sitter for our son Hayden and go to the hospital to hold our twins Harper and Harrison together. Luckily, we were only about 15-20 minutes away from the NICU, making it much easier for us to visit twice a day.

Throughout this hectic ordeal, the NICU staff was amazing and extremely supportive. They were our biggest cheerleaders day in and day out and helped pull us through the anguish we felt when the babies had setbacks. Overall our experience was amazing, and our babies are thriving today because of the amazing care they received each day in the NICU.

FEEDING IN THE NICU

I started pumping right away after the babies were born. The medical staff discussed the possible use of donor milk, if my milk didn’t come in. Fortunately, my milk came in a few days later and throughout the twin’s NICU stay I pumped every 2-3 hours. The staff also discussed adding Prolact+ H2MF, Prolacta’s human milk-based fortifier to my breast milk. They explained how they needed to give the twins more nutrients than my breast milk alone could provide, and that this was the only human milk fortifier made from 100% breastmilk. All the other human milk fortifiers were made from cow milk, which is associated with higher rates of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) than a diet consisting entirely of human milk. We were absolutely all for it. Harper and Harrison were on Prolact+ until 36 weeks adjusted age. Each morning at rounds, the medical staff would discuss the volume intake and food breakdown for our babies and Prolact+ was always mentioned. We were incredible grateful to have Prolact+ to help them gain weight so well and stay healthy too.

Harper and Harrison were both in the NICU for 103 days. When they were discharged, Harper weighed 6 lb 2 oz and Harrison weighed 6 lb 3 oz. They left the hospital the day before their due date!

AFTER THE NICU

Today, our babies are 13 months old (10 months adjusted age)! They are both crawling, are amazing eaters, and are talking up a storm! Their favorite words currently are “dada” and “mama,” with the word “baba” a close third! They love to watch their big brother Hayden play and they enjoy laughing with him. They sit up very well and we are working on getting them to sit up on their own too. They love to be read too!

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ADVICE TO NICU PARENTS

  1. Journal each day so that when you have a bad day or hear bad news you can easily go back and see how far you all have come and see that this was only a bad day, not a bad journey.
  2. Trust the process, it is all a process and your team of medical professionals are working together to grow your tiny humans into amazing thriving babies.
  3. Celebrate the small wins – every ounce counts and it should be celebrated!
  4. Be involved in their care – changing diapers, mouth care, taking their temperature.
  5. Don’t underestimate the power of kangaroo care.