I have been loving hearing and sharing parent's stories about their NICU journeys! Today we have another story for you to read that we are especially excited to share with you since we have had the privilege of carrying her books for a while. The way this preemie mom found a way to help other parents going through this journey inspires me. She couldn't find any book to help siblings to understand what the NICU journey looks like, so she decided to start Me Two Books, an organization that uses books as educational tools to help children recognize and embrace differences in themselves and others.
Here is her story:
Even though my identical twins were born 12 weeks early, I was waiting for them. I had been waiting for them for years.
My journey to parenthood was a long one. After 3.5 years of unexplained infertility, countless interventions, and a failed round of IVF, I was pregnant. Not only was I expecting one baby, but it was twins. The majority of my pregnancy was uneventful until around 27 weeks. At a routine appointment, signs of pre-term labor were noticed and I was checked into the hospital for indefinite bed rest.
Over the next seven days of hospital bed rest, we did everything possible to stop the babies from coming, while also preparing for the very real possibility that it might not work. On the eighth day, one twin’s heart rate dropped. It continued to do so over the next six hours. At 28 weeks our twins were born weighing less than 4.5 lbs combined.
Our next stop was the NICU. Our passage through the NICU was not without moments of bliss and despair. Between both twins, we dealt with all the common health problems associated with prematurity including jaundice, apnea, and PDAs. One twin developed an infection that required a lumbar puncture. But after 65 hard days, both babies were home.
As the twins grew, they loved hearing about their “origin” story and seeing pictures from their babyhood. From the very beginning, this always included discussions of life in the NICU, explaining that they were born early and were very small and needed additional time in the hospital to grow. I thought a book would be a nice supplement to the conversations we were having, so I set out to find a book about the NICU. I was looking for something that was a simple introduction to the NICU, was developmentally appropriate for younger toddlers, and reframed the NICU experience from scary to positive. But I couldn’t find anything I loved, so I decided to start Me Two Books, an organization that uses books as an educational tool to help children recognize differences in themselves and others and to embrace it. My first book, I Was a Preemie Just Like You celebrates what young preemies went through, and reminds them that they are not alone.
One of the things that I enjoyed while my kids were in the NICU was reading to them. It made me feel like a “normal” parent and I could block out all the noise and imagine that I sitting in my children’s nursery reading to them instead of a hospital. It helped me forget about the stress, at least temporarily. I would have loved to be able to read my preemie a book about being a preemie. So hopefully my book can provide that calming peaceful experience to help families escape in the pages of the book and enjoy time with their child while in the NICU.
My journey to parenthood has been so much more than I expected. It has changed my life, my career, and my passion. Having preemie twins changed me forever, and for the better.
Ali Dunn is the founder of MeTwo Books and the author of the children’s books I Was a Preemie Just Like You, One of Two, A Twin Story about Individuality, and The Career Explorer. She is the chief mom officer of identical twins born at 28 weeks. Find more information about her and her books at www.metwobooks.com, Twitter @me2books, and Instagram @me2books.