More Than Just A Snuggle: Kangaroo Care For Twins

Noone expects to have a premature baby. (or in my case, babies). But that’s the situation I found myself in 10 years ago. 2 very ill, pre-term babies in a NICU – and not knowing what the next hour held, let alone the future. This blog is going to be a little emotional to write, because it’s sharing my experience with kangaroo care, and what it meant to me. After all, today is Kangaroo Care Awareness Day,  and I passionately advocate for kangaroo care for multiple births, as my own experience shows that kangaroo care for twins is possible.

There are a lot of challenges for first time parents. I’ll be honest, you go in with a set of ideals and ideas and this rose coloured vision of what you’re going to do. Everyone has advice, everyone has ideas, and quite honestly it can be confusing and contradictory.

Then you go to one appointment, find out it’s twins and the whole thing changes. Suddenly everyone has a new set of opinions, you’re labelled as high risk, and you’re getting a million appointments, scans, and an overload of information.

It becomes daunting, as you have so many new considerations to think about, new risks, and new complications that can develop.

In The NICU

You’re prepared that your babies will come early, but nothing prepares you for that NICU experience. The sounds, the smell of handsanitizer (incidentally, during the pandemic I would feel waves of nausea when I put on hand sanitizer, and I realised that it was associated with the smell from our NICU days), the rules, the trauma of not going home with your babies, of feeling like a visitor when you go to the unit to see them, of endless meetings and appointments.

The alarms going off that cause you to panic, worrying about infections and blood tests, but also celebrating milestones that not many other parents celebrate – 1500 grams, first cup feeding, the day they go to the open couveuse … the days the alarms are switched off and you know that within 48 hours that baby will come home (hopefully).

The pain of taking one baby home, and her sister is still critically ill in NICU. The joy of leaving with both babies, finally, after nearly 2 months.

What Does The Future Hold?

There are also complications that come with a rare diagnosis – not knowing the future or the outcomes for the babies. Is this a normal thing for preemies, or is it related to their TAPS. Size discordances, anemia, MRIs, blood tests, spinal taps, so much extra. A rare diagnosis doesn’t finish at birth – it’s a lifetime consideration. 

 There is also the guilt of a complicated pregnancy – Did I do something to cause this? What could I have changed? Is this my fault? I am the reason my babies are ill. These are thoughts that go through your head – and while im my case, it was absolutely the placenta to blame, it still doesn’t change the thoughts you have, or the guilt you feel about having preterm, sick babies

You feel like you have lost control, and that nothing you can do is right. You feel helpless.

And now, navigating all this in a foreign language. Yes. This is really a big consideration. When my girls were born, I had only lived here for a year. My language skills were not great, so I relied on either someone to convey information in english, or my husband to translate. It was confusing, terrifying, and upsetting – and not having any close family near us was also hard.

A photograph that I hold precious in my heard is this one – the first time that I was able to hold both my girls, and see how tiny they were. Their tiny bodies, the tubes, the wires, the sounds – none of that mattered. I was able to hold them, to kiss their heads, to be a mother for the first time.

It was amazing as well that staff gave us that moment to bond, and even recorded that special moment. This picture now sits where I can see it every day. While things were still so uncertain and complicated, at least in this moment things felt ok. 

Kangaroo care was encouraged, and spending loads of time just talking, singing with our babies was amazing. At the time, I didn’t realise exactly how progressive that this experience was, but now having spent more time with families who have sick twins in NICU, I’ve come to be even more grateful, and more appreciative of the time that we spent with you, and the opportunities you gave us.

Kangaroo Care For Twins

It is possible and please let parents have that experience of holding both babies together if possible. You don’t know how life changing it is.

Today is Kangaroo Care Awareness Day, and along with the science comes something else – the ability to connect with your babies and feel that just for a small amount of time, the trauma, the stress, the uncertainty melt away.  It is a moment that briefly, everything is under control.

Kangaroo care for twins is possible. And, it’s life changing.

Resources

Facilitation of skin-to-skin care and parental involvement through the physical environment – ESCNH

Very early and continuous skin-to-skin contact – ESCNH

Kangaroo (Mother) Care – EFCNI Academy

Kangaroo Care Day

(PS, it’s not recommended to kangaroo 2 ten year olds. It’s a bit squishy 😉 )

Kangaroo mother care to reduce morbidity and mortality in low-birth-weight infants – WHO

Kangaroo mother care: a transformative innovation in health care – WHO

Leave a Reply