By time a mother is released from Post-Op, a micro preemie has received more medical attention in the NICU than a normal healthy child will receive during their entire childhood. During the pregnancy, as much as we had been guaranteed that our children would spend some time in the NICU, prior to the delivery of our triplets, I really knew nothing about what goes on. Earlier in the day, as we were learning that our children would need to be delivered via C-section, we got a visit from one of the NICU doctors who gave us the five-minute explanation of what we needed to know. That sounds hurried, and yes it is, although five minutes is about all of the time it takes to explain those parts of the NICU that can be understood without a first-hand experience. Basically it is broken down to establishing respiration through intubation, maintaining body heat via incubation, nourishment via an IV, and maintaining proper body chemistry also via IV.
The first visit to the NICU is a complex mixture of childlike wonder and trepidation. The initial room that our children were in was small and just outside the operating room. This is where doctors and nurses started to care for our children and create the environment as close to in utero as possible. Instead of having an isolet commonly seen on television, the children were in a tray-like bed with a heat lamp. They used an artifical lambskin to cocoon around the babies to establish a confined space much like a womb. Each child had their intubation tube coming out their mouth and tethered with a brace that secured to each cheek. The line for the IV came out their umbilical arteries. Each child had a heel bandaged from which they took blood for analysis. Their eyes were covered and the tiny diapers that they wore were grossly enormous on their tiny frail bodies. There was a pulse/oxygen sensor affixed to their feet that gave off a soft orange glow. All of the items affixed to their bodies extended to some form of medical contraption that beeped or alarmed--ventilators and flow meters, monitors and pumps. Their beds were covered with stretch wrap to ensure their environment was sanatary.
As we visually took all of this in, our journey in the NICU had began.