Thursday, January 11, 2024

Those bottles of formula will last us how long? And other lessons learned from our latest placement.

If you had shown me this picture a week ago, I would have (a) wished you hearty congratulations on the bundle of joy coming your way, and (b) believed you were well-stocked for feeding the little guy. Oh, how naive I was.

Yesterday afternoon, my crash course on this topic kicked into high gear. We received news of our next foster care placement: two adorable, preemie twin girls. Friday afternoon, we stepped into the NICU and were introduced to these two tiny bundles of joy. The first question from the NICU staff: did you bring in their car seats? Huh, what? As it turns out, before they can be discharged, the girls needed to pass a car seat test, which the staff planned to conduct later in the evening.

While the NICU nurse went through the new parent checklist with us, I found myself constantly distracted by the urge to capture photos of the girls. Sure, yeah, feed them, I get it. But have you noticed just how tiny and perfect their little fingers are?!

Shira and I have cared for several babies, so we're pretty well-equipped with essentials. Need a car seat for a newborn? No problem. However, twins are a whole new ballgame. Need a car seat for two preemies? That's going to take some scrambling. As we visited the twins on Friday night, we kept a close eye on our Amazon alerts. When our second car seat was delivered, we hurried home, grabbed it, and brought it back to the hospital for the big test. Not to brag, but later that night, the girls aced their car seat test. We were so proud.

On Saturday, our plan was to return to the NICU to discharge the girls. However, before we could do so, we had to provide the hospital with official documentation. Apparently, the hospital is picky about who takes babies home. No problem, we had our paperwork in order. Then came the challenge: we needed to fax the paperwork to the hospital. Not email, not drop off, but fax. So here we are, dealing with countless new details, from buying clothes that would fit their itty-bitty frames to figuring out how not to mix up identical twins and I find myself Googling for online fax providers. Here's a pro tip: HelloFax met our needs perfectly. For just a couple of bucks, we sent the fax, and received word from the hospital that we were clear to take the girls home. The discharge went smoothly from there.

Since coming home, it's been a blur of feedings, diapers, Amazon boxes, and photo snapping. To their credit, the twins have been gentle on us. They are eating, sleeping, and pooping like rock stars. With infants, especially two, and even more so with preemies, so many things can go wrong. Yet, so far, the girls have been angels. Sure, we can't get more than two hours of sleep before the next feeding, but that's par for the course. Shira and I are under no illusion that this honeymoon will last. However, we're savoring it and seizing the opportunity to absorb as much knowledge, as quickly as we can.

For example...

That "large" supply of formula pictured above lasted us for a little over two days. The same holds true for one canister of formula and one package of Huggies preemie diapers.

The 'mistake' we made buying a Keyfit 35 car seat instead of a matching Keyfit 30 car seat wasn't a mistake at all. For preemies, they get their car seats customized to fit them at the hospital (who knew?), so having two different models makes it easy to see which girl goes with which seat.

We love our single-baby all-in-one stroller that lets us snap in the car seat. We thought it smart to buy the twins version. Turns out, that isn't practical: the stroller is massive and weighs a ton. Instead, we're going with a bulky, yet much lighter stroller that just holds two car seats. We'll upgrade when the kids outgrow this first stage.

The Munchkin travel pod seemed like a smart way to set up a sleeping area for the twins wherever (like next to my desk as I work). Except, printed on the outside of this portable bassinet is a big 'ol warning that says: do not use for sleep. Looking back at the description of the product, they only implied it worked as a bassinet. We switched instead to Baby Delight Snuggle Nest, which is as compact and functional but is approved as a safe sleep space.

The suggestion we keep hearing over and over to avoid mixing up babies is to make use of colored nail polish. For now, we're using the foam-backed Velcro ID tags that the NICU sent the girls home with. They are secure and skin-friendly. We've also associated each girl with a color of masking tape and liberally apply the tape to avoid mix-ups. For now, I've been slapping a strip of colored tape on the back of each child's outfit after we dress them so I can quickly untangle who is who. Shira is convinced she can tell the two girls apart; I'm way less confident.

One of the first things the NICU nurse wanted to know (after, where's the car seat?) is what app are you using to track bottles and diapers. They don't play around, going as far as asking us to log bottles in milliliters. Two babies ago we used a Google doc and Tasker to track this info. For the last baby, we didn't use any system. We considered using an app from the Google App store, but ultimately, I dusted off and improved my Tasker setup. I'm glad I did, it works like a charm.

It's generally accepted that all babies like white noise at night, which we haven't always used. But, after having been in the relatively noisy NICU for days, these girls really don't like dark and quiet. I found myself dusting off my old Galaxy S8 and running the Sleep Sounds app on it. While the free version of the app has ads, they don't get in the way, and the app runs without a problem for hours at a time. I'm hoping that the 'underwater' profile brings back fond memories of floating around in mom's belly.

And so our education and adventure continue. I'd go on with more lessons learned, but it's just about time to go change diapers and feed the little ones again. My only regret in all of this is that it's against the rules to post photos. So you'll have to picture two perfect babies, and that's what's making our lives interesting these days.

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