Preparing to Bring Them Home
Before your twins leave the hospital, be sure you have had some practice caring for your babies and been taught to use any special equipment they may need. Ideally, you and the staff should develop discharge plans together, based on the reality of your home situation. The discharge plan helps you understand the care the babies need-how and when to administer medication, what signs to look for, and when it's necessary to call the pediatrician, as well as routine wellbaby care.
Follow-up appointments for the babies to come back to the hospital to be checked should be made before discharge. You may also want to arrange for visits by a public health nurse-a free county service in many communities. It works best when the nurse meets you in the hospital or makes a home visit before the arrival of the babies. PHN's do a home assessment and can suggest the best placement of furniture, for example. Their role is not to give hands-on care but rather to offer support, educate parents, provide community referrals and act as a communication link between pediatricians and parents.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to get some help when the babies come home. You may have spent three months shuttling between hospitals and then take home two sick babies on apnea monitors or oxygen, or with other special needs. Here is what one mother told us. "Against better advice, we didn't get enough help. In retrospect, I would have done whatever I could to get high school kids, or somebody else that wouldn't have cost a lot, to give me a break. And I wouldn't have been so reluctant to ask friends to help. The exhaustion of caring for preemie twins is cumulative. If you can stop it from happening, you'll feel better and everything will be better."