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What NIDCAP meant to my NICU experience…

Latoshia Rouse

Just 7 days earlier, I had an OBGYN visit. After a great visit, I asked other moms of multiples if they thought I would make it to 36 weeks. My doc seemed very confident that I would, but I wanted to talk to moms who had accomplished it. We laughed and giggled at the possibility of me breaking the record for triplet birth weights. Everything was going great! This day I was super tired. I was beginning to struggle with standing for short periods of time. I was seeing the toll this pregnancy was having on my body. I decided to lay down and rest, but I needed to go to the bathroom first. Once I got in there, I realized my water had broken. Within an hour I was in the emergency room. I still was not sure what all this meant, but I knew I was not going back home until I had them. I had a 3 year old at home and I was not able to be with him. I was so torn. Everything was messed up. My body was failing the babies I was carrying and I was not able to parent the baby that was here. This was a Tuesday and after the steroids/ magnesium, I delivered my babies on Friday morning. They were 26 weeks 6 days. 2lbs 10oz, 2lbs 8oz, and 2lbs 3oz of perfection. It was a whirlwind. I had 4 kids. From 1 kid to 4 kids in about 29 mins.

Latoshia, first time holding all three babies

After they were born, my kiddos went to the NICU. I didn’t get to see them at all. I was so anxious to see their faces. I felt like them being with me was a way I could help keep them calm. It was just a feeling. Later I would find out that my hunch was right. Meanwhile, my husband brought me pictures. We named them for the NICU staff and I was able to touch them gently. I was so proud of them. They were handling it. All the world was crashing down on them and they were still here. After some struggles in the beginning, I was starting to settle into the NICU life. I was taught about liquid gold and how breast milk was life saving. I was taught about how my touch would stabilize their breathing and heartrate. I was taught about brain development and how being there as much as possible to kangaroo would help develop their brains. All of a sudden, I was back. I was important in the life of my children. I could make a difference and I could parent them in the NICU. They were mine again.

Mommy Latoshia holds Ava and Layla
dad and landon
Dad, William, holds Landon

I started to pay attention and learn each one to become the best expert I could be on them. What else do you do when the kid doesn’t talk back? You study them. You want to make sure your baby has the best premature experience they can have and you want to make it easy for them. After a few weeks of studying them, I showed up and there was a report taped on their isolette. It had NIDCAP and a rainbow line under it. I knew my hospital was a level IV, but I didn’t understand NIDCAP at the time. I started reading the report and it was spot on. The person who wrote this knew my babies. The report talked about what the baby liked and disliked. It made my babies individuals. It made the nurses aware that this child was different. This child has needs and was talking to them the best way he or she knew how.

Ava, Landon and Layla, 5 years old
Layla, Latoshia, Brandon, Ava, William, and Landon

I later met with a soft-spoken gentle-natured doctor, actually the Infant & Family Specialist, and he was not like others I’d met. He was the person who wrote the report and he handled me with kid gloves. He spent time with me and explained the report. He answered my questions and gave me reassurance that what I was doing was great. It was the things that made me feel like my kids were getting the best possible care. They were there to care for my babies emotionally and not just physically. They were there to mitigate and that is exactly what I wanted. We could not turn back the hands of time, but we could mitigate the effects of prematurity for my kids. And that is the very best next thing. I’m forever grateful that my babies were born in a NIDCAP hospital. I credit that good fortune with the fact that all of my children are happy, healthy, and completely normal 5 years later.

-Latoshia Rouse
NICU Family Advisor and Coach





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