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A NICU Story: When Your Twins are an Hour Away

A NICU Story: When Your Twins are an Hour Away

nicu twins deanna burkett

Last updated on February 14th, 2024 at 08:03 am

When we were busy planning for the arrival of our twins I was somewhat expecting them to be born early. Twins normally come a little early and so I had planned for them to be born perhaps a month earlier than usual. But our twins came two months early. After the initial panic and a frantic delivery the doctors had prepared us to expect our babies to be in the NICU for at least the duration of the term of the pregnancy (two months). We were devastated — to say the least — but unbelievably relieved that they were both going to be OK.

Our girl, Liah, was the reason they were delivered early. Her heart rate dropped and so it was an emergency cesarean delivery. But as soon as she was out in the world she was off with flying colors. Liam, our boy, was not so lucky. He had to be resuscitated as soon as he was born and the doctors worked on him a good while before he was stable enough to be whisked away in a waiting ambulance. They were both rushed to a hospital with a NICU over an hour away (the one we delivered at did not have a NICU).


The hardest thing I have ever had to do was leave my two tiny babies in a NICU an hour away from me. I was constantly paranoid that something was going to happen and I would be so far away. Needless to say the nurses at the NICU became used to my VERY frequent phone calls to check on them when I was not there to be with them myself.

We drove those endless miles several times over in the duration of the twins stay in the NICU. There were times I felt like I was on auto-pilot and the truck just knew the way it needed to go. As one week turned into two Liah improved daily and before long we were simply waiting for her to eat properly from a bottle and gain the required weight to leave. Every day she amazed me with her determination.

Liam struggled daily. He was intubated at first but eventually graduated to a cannula (a type of oxygen mask for babies) and after the cannula he would be breathing on his own but every time he seemed to be doing a little better he would have a bradiacardia episode (a pause in the regular breathing of a baby lasting longer then 15-20 seconds) and have to be back on the cannula.  The doctors informed us that he would not be released until they had a steady report of him slowing down on them. On any given day he had up to 20 and sometimes 30 a day. To say that it was nerve racking is an understatement. Everyday I prayed when I called that I would hear a good report only to be told that he was worsening and they had to turn up his oxygen.


Eventually we got to bring Liah home! We were so excited but absolutely insane with fear. She was so very, very tiny. She was doing everything that a normal newborn was so supposed to be doing but we still stressed over every little hiccup she had. The ride home was the longest of my life. My hubby had to work the day I got to bring her home and I drove an hour back home by myself with a tiny baby in the car seat behind me. I don’t think I have ever strained my ears so hard listening for any little sniffle or whimper.

Life came to a screeching halt on the first night Liah was home. My stress level was through the roof because Liam was still an hour away. I worried incessantly that something would happen with Liam while hubby was at work and I would be scrambling to figure out what I was going to do with Liah so I could go see to him. We were so very blessed that this did not occur and Liam progressed, slowly, but he did progress.

The late night feedings with Liah were my quiet time to just “be”. All day long I tended to Liah and called the NICU to check on Liam. I worried horribly that they were missing each other. At night I used the quiet time wisely and just soaked up as much of the new baby stage as I could with Liah. I knew when Liam finally did get to come home I would be running around in a frenzy to get them both fed. My advice to any multiples parent that has one home and and one still in the NICU is to treasure every moment you can get with that one child as long as you can because when they are both home your house will be turned upside down. The NICU nurses (bless them a thousand times over) had Liam and Liah on a schedule so I knew when she would be ready to eat and ready to sleep. They continued to keep Liam on that schedule so when he came home it would be a little easier. To this day I don’t think I can EVER thank those nurses enough.


After two days with Liah at home, I made the trip back to see Liam in the NICU (those were the longest two days ever) and this time I brought someone with me. Someone would have to sit with Liah outside of the NICU while I visited with Liam. It was flu season so my older children were not allowed to go see them. It was hard but we made it work for those long weeks.

Endless trips an hour away to see Liam and up all hours of the night feeding Liah made for a very tired mama. My family rallied around me and lent a hand wherever they could and it was a tremendous relief to have that available. I slept when she slept and we stayed home to ensure as much as we could that Liah didn’t get sick.

Eventually we had a meeting with the doctors and we got the news! We could take Liam home but he would have a monitor attached to him to alert when he was having a “brady”. I was very apprehensive at first but soon came to realize that monitor was going to be saving my sanity (in fact I was reluctant to give it back to them after he was cleared to be taken off). I would have to spend the day with Liam at the NICU so the nurses could prepare me for his care. It was all very confusing and I worried constantly I was going to fail the “test” but I did fine and I got to bring him home!


I feel that every twin parent has a special moment. That moment that makes your heart smile. Mine was when I placed Liam next to Liah in the bassinet. They were both fidgeting and restless but the very moment they were laid next to each other it was like a sudden calm of a stormy sea. Of course they weren’t really able to focus on what they were looking at but they knew. This other being had been missing and now all was right in the world.

Having your child in a NICU is hard. There can never be enough articles or stories that could ever impress how trying a time that it is. Having one home and one still there was horrible and sweet at the same time. It is horrible for obvious reasons but any twin parent knows that special one on one time is few and far between and those moments with Liah were sweet. I can’t say that I would choose to have it that way all over again. If I had my way both of my babies would have been born on time and came straight home with me. But I am the person that always sees the good in every dark situation.

Deanna Burkett

Deanna Burkett (Twiniversity Pinterest and Forums Manager) is multi-tasking mama of two year old boy/girl twins and teens and a wife of 19 years to a very patient husband. On any given day you can find her pinning her heart away at Twiniversity’s Pinterest page, saying howdy to a new member of Twiniversity’s Message Board, working on school work while she earns her double degree of History and English at Ashford University, catering to her teenagers every beck and call or chasing one or two naked babies around the house! Look for her on Facebook, & Twitter!

Are You a New Twin Parent?

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