Keira Sorrells and her triplets, Avery, Lily & Zoe - USA
My triplets, Avery, Lily & Zoe were born 11 years ago at 25 weeks 5 days gestation. All three were on the oscillator directly after birth and had lengthy NICU stays.
Awareness about Kangaroo Care was limited at that time and I thought I had to wait until my babies were on a regular nasal before I could even hold them. I didn't even know what skin-to-skin was yet. My interaction with my girls for their first month of life was limited to diaper changes and assessing temperature.
On their one month birthday, Avery's nurse asked if I had held any of my girls yet and I said "No, I didn't think I was allowed to." This fabulous nurse replied "It's been a month. You NEED to hold your baby!"
Within a matter of moments she had the neonatologist write the order and had an RT at the bedside along with another nurse in the pod.
Jennifer got me situated in a rocking chair, explained to me that the best way to hold her would be skin to skin and she would put a hat on Avery's head and cover her with a blanket once she was placed on my chest. Soon after, the three staff worked in tandem to remove Avery (who was on the regular vent at this time) from her isolette and on to my chest. The RT manipulated the breathing tubes with expert hands and secured everything safely while Jennifer warned me that Avery's pulse ox and heart rate may be erratic at first, but to be patient and she would settle in.
As soon as I felt Avery's little cheek on my skin and her practically weightless body on my chest I felt like a "real" mother for the first time since their birth.
The natural instinct for a parent is to hold and touch and kiss their child, especially if they are in pain, in distress, or discomfort. We want to soothe them and make them feel better. As NICU parents we can be completely stripped of that natural instinct because of that clear plastic dome that separates us from our babies.
Being able to do Kangaroo care with all three of my daughters was what I needed to begin to heal from the trauma of delivering them so early. I felt so helpless in so many ways during our 9 1/2 months in the NICU but I soon learned that my touch, my scent, and my heartbeat was unlike anyone else they were in contact with.
When a baby is touched by a nurse or a doctor it is an examination. Even adults can relate to being examined by a physician. No matter how good their bedside manner may be, it is nothing like being held by your mother or your father. It is the same for babies, full-term or pre-term, healthy or medically fragile.
As soon as I understood that all I needed was a doctor's order to be written to hold, believe me, it was written in big bold letters all over the charts of all three of my girls. On most days my husband would Kangaroo one baby, while I Kangarooed the other and we would rotate for the third baby.
I was fortunate to have two of my girls in the same semi-private room and on many occasions was able to do Kangaroo Care with them at the same time. Being able to hold two at once made me feel like Super Mama! I will never forget those moments.