Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Looking Back on Five Years

This month and next we celebrate 5 years since our twin boys were discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I remember each of those days like they were yesterday. We have come such a very long way since those early days of fear and uncertainty.

Since then we have learned how to advocate for our boys, who due to their prematurity, have had a few challenges along the way. We chauffeured them to countless appointments and follow up assessments over these five years. We watched them grow and learn at their own pace and just recently they completed their first year of Junior Kindergarten!

We’ve gone from staring at our little boys through high tech plastic encasements to beginning to loosen up a bit and putting some of our protectiveness to the side – It may have been over protection for a little while, but who wouldn’t want to do everything in their power to protect these little ones, who had such a rough start in life?

Baby Drew

During our time in the NICU, we were able to become close to a couple of families also going through the rough experience of having a premature baby living in the unit. There we would laugh at the silly things, hug over the worrisome things and give each other a cheer and high five over the really great things. Although we were very much involved in our own situations, we learned about each other’s babies and how they were faring. We described procedures and the things that were different about our babies and ultimately we learned a lot about the world of prematurity from each other, and how it seems no premature baby will have the exact same experience.

Baby Cian – Twin B

Baby Cael – Twin A

We each eventually were discharged, one by one, and went back to our different cities we call home and began life with our precious babies, not knowing what the future would hold, but grateful to be able to find out!

Over 5 years my friends, husband and I have watched our boys take on the challenges we hoped they’d be able to take part in. From team sports like hockey, baseball, soccer and lacrosse to independent sports like swimming and gymnastics. These are things I worried would never happen when we discussed our babies’ breathing problems, infections and brain bleeds of varying degrees. Five years ago my husband I looked over scans on the computer screens and became well versed in the anatomy and conditions of our little boys. You could say we had a crash course in neonatology, and at that time I worried many of my dreams and ideals for my babies may never occur, yet we had high hopes and knew we could take on whatever came our way.

With just a few small setbacks in the early days after discharge, these little boys have beaten many odds, made many friends and supporters along the way, and recently each boy turned five years old! Not a day goes by that we don’t give thanks.

McMaster NICU Picnic 2015, Hamilton, Ontario

McMaster NICU Picnic 2015, Hamilton, Ontario

Drew nowtwins soccer

 

 

Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn About Carolyn Leighton-Hilborn

Carolyn (Ontario, Canada) is a mother of three premature children. In 2008 her first son arrived at 31 weeks; she trusted her instincts and made it to the hospital in time. In 2010, she had identical twin boys at 27 weeks. The twins' NICU stays lasted 3 months and just shy of 4 months. During this time Carolyn felt extremely isolated and began to reach out via social media. On her personal blog, she writes about raising preemies, twins and parenting topics; you can also find her on Twitter. Currently, she is a peer health worker in her local multiples organization, Chairs Multiple Births Canada’s Preterm Birth Support Network and joined the Board of Directors of Canadian Premature Babies Foundation.

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