Home, at last

After 9.5 weeks in the hospital. Nicu. Several Infections. A few blood transfusions. And lots of ups and downs…I’m thrilled to share, actually yell from every roof top, parading down the street, like a proud mamma, a male peacock. Waving my colorful, Mia and Zoë feathers. My girls are home!

It’s been 3 weeks since Mia and Zoë arrived home. They came home on a Sunday after Chanan and I decided to spend Shabbat at the hospital, so we could be there for all their feeding (feels like feeding hour at the zoo…), and help them finally finish bottles without lowering their oxygen saturation levels. That was all that was keeping them at the hospital.
They had arrived at all the other necessary mile stones. They had passed the 35 week mark, they were both over 2 kg, they were able to maintain their body temperature. All that was left was mastering the art of ‘multi tasking’-Swallowing while remembering to breathe…they look at you with their big beautiful, deep eyes, and trust you to nourish them and help them grow.
Like any other day, I was there all day Friday. Chanan arrived right before Shabbat, after farming out our other kids by grandparents and dear friends. As soon as he walked in, I had a nervous break down. I started crying…” They’re never coming home”, “I’m done.”.., ” I’m not coming to the hospital anymore, if they’d like to see me, they’ll just have to find me at home..!”
Chanan was all there for me as usual, and gave me a much needed hug, and sent me to sleep. I slept almost through the night, with one session of pumping in between. Chanan spent the entire night by their hospital bassinets, patiently bottle feeding them, and teaching them how to succeed. In the morning I took over, and by Motzei Shabbat we had achieved the necessary 24 hours of feedings without drops in saturation. All this time, we thought Zoë would come home before Mia, but now they had both done it. Zoë apparently, was just waiting for Mia to catch up, so they could come home together! A feat nearly unheard of in the hospital. I was sure I’d have one baby at home, and another in the hospital. I was up for that challenge- I was rocking it- so I just tuned in to my “whatever-it-takes, I-can-do-it” attitude…This new scenario was such a sweet surprise! We had all worked so hard together the entire Shabbat. Now we had to wait till Sunday to hopefully be discharged. Chanan decided to stay and spend yet another night by their bedside, to ensure successful feedings. We were terrified that if left to the caring nurses, their bottle feeding would be rushed, and they would have dips in saturation, and we’d have to start the 24 hour count all over again…
I came back home, to our other 5 children. Who very much, needed their Imma.
On Sunday morning, I left early, before the doctors rounds and headed to the hospital with car seats, a double stroller, blankets, baby hats and a lot of faith, determination and hope. When I arrived, Chanan awaited me with a smile from ear to ear ” they’re coming home!”, ” we did it!”. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe it. I felt the high of a woman, having just given birth, bringing her babies home.
Mia and Zoe’s homecoming was beautiful. We surprised our children with their return home. I must say, we were (and still are) a bit strict. No touching the babies, without washing hands and alcohol shpritz… Mia and Zoë spent such a long time in a sterile environment, that we feared that their transition to our germ infested, runny nosed, full house, home, would be too much for them. Everyday, as they grow, we chill out a bit. And try and treat them more like ‘ regular’ babies, and less like preemies.
I kept their return home a secret at first. It was my much needed missed time with them. Filling in the gaps in utero, and the amazing endorphin rich post birth bond.
They’re still being bottle fed every 3 hours day or night. I’ve been pumping around the clock to keep up. Their first night home was so difficult, Chanan and I looked at each other
” why did we want them home?”, ” can we send them back for another week, so we can catch up on sleep..?”
Slowly we are getting used to our sleep deprived state. Mia and Zoë are gaining weight beautifully. We are getting to know them and are trying to find our new routine. The first night, when we cut the hospital bracelets off their legs, we were terrified of not being able to tell them apart…Now, we seem to be able to distinguish between them (except for some 3 am feedings…). Even our kids are mostly able to tell them apart. They all want to take their baby sisters to ‘ show and tell’ in school. For now, they’ll have to make do with pictures…
Having 7 children is overwhelming. In my mind, it’s actually not 7, rather broken down to 5+2…its easier to grasp that way..
In the afternoons we’ve been enjoying amazing help with the kids, and at times, we also have morning help, so we can sleep a bit…thank you, Debra 😉
The next major hurdle to overcome is the transition from bottle feeding to exclusively breast feeding. Not an easy task with preemies, let alone twins…

– – – –

6 days later…
I am pleased to report for those of you at home keeping score, that I have been exclusively breastfeeding since last Friday.
I decided to dive in, since I couldn’t take even one more session of pumping!
We’ve been carful, monitoring their diapers and weight, and are pleased to report that they’re doing great.
Sarah my soul sista, is here. Snuggling my babies. I must say that I feel on top of the world. We’re making it!
Thank you all for the support and out pouring of love.
I’m hoping to update, when I have a moment to breathe…


Light at the end of the tunnel

I was a bit down last time I posted. It was my birthday. When i came to see my babies, I received the best birthday gift that day! One that was much needed. Mia nursed for the first time! Though, the nurses told me that nursing would only start once my girls hit 34 weeks, Mia was showing clear signs of interest…
Thank g-d, on that particular morning, the nurse that was caring for them was also a lactation consultant. She told me that I could try…Mia latched on immediately. It felt so right! It was pure bliss. I tried with Zoë the very next day. She too knew exactly what to do…
They still get their meals through the feeding tube. Nursing, for now, is an extra bonus..for all of us.
A few days ago, my babies moved out of the Nicu, into the ‘intermediate care’. The very next day, Zoë moved out of her incubator to a heated bassinet! Its like she moved out of her protected, secluded womb like cave into our world. they are both doing great.They’re both completely off oxygen, growing into ‘real’ babies. They are progressing so quickly!
Mia and Zoë are supposed to be fraternal, not identical. But, from day one we’ve had a hard time telling them apart. As they grow, and are getting closer with their weights, It’s only getting harder.

Now all of a sudden I’m realizing that I have to get ready for their homecoming. It’s an imminent reality. Let the nesting begin!

My time at the hospital has become a routine, my norm. I’ve made some deep friendships with other moms. Last week was hard. My friend lost her baby. One of identical twins. Born the same week of pregnancy as Mia and Zoë. This week she took her other son home. Life and death, happiness and sorrow, are so intertwined here.
Since I’ve written last, Chanan and I have decided that in order to really go through the grieving process for our loss of our ‘baby b’, we need to give her a name. We named her Libby. In Hebrew it means ‘my heart’. She literally has my heart, and will forever carry a piece of it. Our next step is to contact the Chevre Kadisha (burial society) and find out where she is buried. According to Jewish custom, still-born babies are buried in unmarked graves. We feel like we have a need to find her final resting place.

I’ve been having a hard time keeping my milk supply up. Trying everything I know..but, it seems that rest is what I need most. Can’t imagine how it’ll be once Zoë gets home. Pumping, giving a bottle, supplementing with nursing, burping and starting over again..it’ll be especially difficult since Mia will still be in the hospital for a few weeks longer (mostly gaining weight, g-d willing), and I will be traveling back and forth to see her, as well as caring for my 5 other feisty children..
Speaking of…they were finally able to meet their baby sisters, through the windows of their new room. The looks on their faces were priceless. Lucky we captured it on camera.
Each step of this journey is proving to be harder. I am a mama bear, and have the strength to do so. Strength that I didn’t know I had in me. This is such a growing and learning experience. So trying.

Without planning, I am back doulaing. Had my first birth unexpectedly a week ago. A laboring woman, who I’ve been with before, called me in the midst of her contractions. I was happy to go assist her. It was a beautiful birth. It felt so good. So right. I have now several other births booked. It’ll be an interesting balancing act, once my babies are home. Heck, I’m up for the challenge. I’m already used to a certain level of intensity in my life…
Thank g-d I have a great support system. Chanan is the best! Husband and abba (father) extraordinaire.
Wish us luck…





Birthday Ponderings

Today is my birthday. 9/11. a date that is now (since 2001) always mixed with sadness.
This year, I Can’t bring myself to celebrate it…
It’ll have to wait till my precious babies are home.
I feel like the void I have inside is just getting bigger.
I’m avoiding people. Don’t feel like all the “mazal Tov’s” are appropriate without having my girls with me to show. It doesn’t feel right without being able to show the fruits of my labour.

The kids will be off school at the end of this week, for 2 weeks. Excited to spend time with them. It’s what I’ve wanted to do all that time on bed rest…but, now I feel that I’ll just be even more torn between home and hospital..
I’m planning on spending Yom Kippur in the hospital.
Getting to the hospital and back is exhausting. Getting up every morning, I fill up my cooler with the freshly pumped breast milk that I’ve painstakingly collected, drop by drop. Then i Trek into j-m, to the hospital every day. All day. It’s tiring.
I feel like my strength and Emunah are constantly being tested. I don’t have much more in me. I know I have to find the koach, and I will, but it is hard. Getting so much harder.
This past Shabbat we spent time with friends who lost their first, full term, baby many years ago. They have a big beautiful family now, but their loss will always be a part of them. Speaking with them made us realize that we haven’t yet grieved our, born sleeping, baby b. Haven’t even named her. We are still, so much in survival mode. No room or time to grieve yet. Though it feels like it’s a growing need.
This journey called grief is new to me, it evolves… I keep going between my need to grieve, to my strong, fighting beauties in the Nicu, who need me. Now.
Thank g-d they’re here, and they need me!
I don’t know what will come next. I just know that writing this blog and sharing my feelings helps. Friends help. Hashem helps.

Chagim is an intense time for any family. I’m just feeling it so much more under these circumstances…

Blessing you all for a full, uplifting, empowering year of togetherness. Achdut. Health, happiness, peace and Shefa. May this year bring Inner peace to us all.
G’mar Chatima Tovah


Shana Tovah

I’ve been going back and forth about writing. It is too hard to explain what it’s like having babies in the Nicu. Intensive to say the least. I’m having a hard time updating anyone. I find myself trying to avoid seeing anyone, so I won’t have to answer any questions… Things change from moment to moment. It is 2 steps forward, one step back. Sometimes 1 step forward, 2 steps back…
I’m physically and emotionally drained to say the least. Still trying to heal from my c section. Trying to keep my milk supply up. This is definitely taking its toll…

After realizing how difficult it is for me to get to and from the hospital, two good friends took the initiative and made an on-line campaign to raise funds to help. I am blown away by the outpouring of love and generosity. Here is the link:


Please continue your prayers for our little girls

מיה אמונה בת גאוליה שומרונה
זהר אושר אביה בת גאוליה שומרונה



Shana Tova U’Metuka.
May this new year bring us all peace, health and many blessings (even in small packages…)

The last day of summer vacation

This is the first chance I’ve had to write..
I’m balancing between my 5 kids at home, my 2 in the Nicu, along with trying to have something to give to Chanan as well. Boy does he deserve some much needed TLC…
I’ve been going in to the Nicu every day and spending many hours there.
I’m driving myself in, though i just learnt that I’m not suppose to drive after a c section! i dont think any of the rules apply to a mother of preemies…
It feels right for me to be there, in the Nicu right by my babies. There really isn’t another place I’d rather be. I’m still healing from the c section. Still extremely hormonal. It doesn’t feel natural to have given birth and be separated from my babies. I just want to study their every feature, watch their every breath. Place my loving hands on them. Cuddle them. Get to know them. Even though I do feel like I’ve known them forever. I’ve felt their energy, who they are, long before they were born.
I am also still very much grieving my baby b. It’s not during a certain time of day. It’s a feeling that is always there, intertwined with all my other emotions. It’s an emptiness, a void that is at times muted in the background, and at times pulling loudly in my chest. Basically I’m a basket case at any given moment..
The last few days have been very scary. First Zoey got sick. She was having a hard time breathing, and her color seemed gray. It happened on wednesday, the morning after I was released from the hospital. I had an argument with Chanan that morning. He had wanted me to rest, heal. To stay in bed for the day. He would bring my milk to the hospital, to the girls. I couldn’t stay home. As much as I needed and wanted to. My place is by Mia and Zoey’s side. I walked in to the Nicu that morning with the Dr’s all standing around Zoey’s incubator. They were taking blood, doing a spinal tap, starting her on antibiotics. Taking all precautions. Of course I was terrified, and very emotional. Goldy the social worker came to sit by my side. Thank g-d they caught it early. Zoey had a staf infection, but is responding well to antibiotics.
That night, Chanan came to visit the girls, and Mia started having difficulty breathing. She too had a slew of tests done, she too has an infection. A bacterial infection called klabsiala. It can be antibiotic resistant, but thank g-d Mia is being a good girl, and is also responding well to the antibiotics. I feel like I’ve been having 50 heart attacks a day with them. I am trying to trust them. They are strong. They can do this. It gives me a lot of comfort knowing how many people are praying for them around the world.

On Shabbat I was home. I needed to rest. Gain strength for the new coming week, and all the adventures to come.
It is wonderful being surrounded by my family, but it is hard still being so limited around them. There is still so much I can’t do… Shalev, after seeing my incision scar, came over with a tissue to rub on my “bubu”. He’s been so yummy. He has a whole new and growing vocabulary I need to get used to..
My girls are all loving and helpful. Being united again is doing good things for us all.
We have a new au-pair staying with us. It is a new reality for us, as it is new for her. We are still very much in survival mode, and are trying to make the best of the situation.

The Kids are starting school tomorrow. My Imma (mom) has been incredibly helpful getting all their School supplies (something that is somewhat of a nightmare for any parent..).
Today is the last day of vacation. I decided to stay home today, and we will try to do something all together for the first time this summer!
I pumped and left enough milk for Mia and Zoey and plan on calling to check in once every few hours. (Who am I kidding, prob. More like once every 20 minutes..).
After looking for our car keys for almost 2 hours, we gave up and borrowed my Abba’s (father) car. Here are the kids sleeping on the way to the beach.
Thank g-d for pain killers…
Wish us luck!


Home, but not quite yet

Being a Nicu mom is new territory.
It’s a new reality. My precious little tiny babies are in the incubators. Side by side. The first few days I couldn’t even touch them. They wanted them as undisturbed as possible. I saw their-oh so familiar movements from within. The stretching, kicking, even hiccups, yawns and smiles. At times they even open their eyes and look around. Observing, seriously contemplating their new existence.
On day 3 I got to hold them. I melted. A feeling of deep peace, calmness and oneness. It felt like they were back where they belonged. Every time I hold them I find myself in a deep relaxation that I’ve never before experienced. Each kangaroo time is about an hour. I hold them one at a time skin to skin. I feel their heart beating, their steady breathing, and they feel mine. My body heat regulated theirs. The nurses and I joke, and came up with the newest new age therapy: We call it ‘premie therapy’. I predict it’ll be the new fad…
I’m also learning what all the wires around them are. It looks scary but mostly they are wires to monitor their temperature and oxygen saturation. They also have an iv in and a feeding tube. They started out being fed through the iv. They also get meds through it. Even caffeine! (Can you imagine a caffeine drip? Heaven..!).
They are doing very well. I’m scared to say it. To write it. “Bli Ayin Harah”. Tfu Tfu.
They are feisty little survivers. The truth is they look like a cross between angry old men, aliens and monkeys…but they are beautiful and getting more beautiful by the minute. They already have clear personalities. Mia knows what she wants, and makes sure to let herself be known. The nurses say she’s very smart. Zoey is a chiller. Still blissfully unaware. She’s a cuddler. A sensitive soul. She needed a little help at first with the oxygen, and had a tube by her nose. Now she’s off the pressured air, and is getting a boost of air into her incubator. Both incubators are humidified. Padded. Over all seems nice and cozy.
They are off some initial meds, and are getting less and less through the iv, and more and more of my milk each day through the feeding tube. They both have a strong sucking reflex, and love their premie pacifiers. They are now gaining weight nicely. They both had uneventful brain scans.
Basically they are ‘ boring’. May it remain that way…
The nurses are very professional, loving and caring. They have their own nick names for them. They always handle them with love and respect.
The Doctors are devoted as can be. Smadar the head Doctor came down to L&D when I was in labor in order to prepare me, and to answer our questions. It made such a difference. Really lowered my anxiety towards this experience. Hilit, another dr. ends her shift by saying goodbye to each premie “don’t make me worried” she says as she parts with them. Apparently she has older twins of her own.
Yesterday I was discharged and came home. The night before was a transition out of maternity ward, and into the nearby hospital hotel. Chanan stayed with me. We ate a nice dinner together. I enjoyed about 5 bowls of soup. We both felt as if it was the first good meal we’ve had in a long time. We enjoyed each others company and got to talk and reconnect.
I pumped milk, and Chanan brought it to the girls, and got some of his own kangaroo time with Mia. I planned on going to see them at night, like I had done in the hospital. But, as soon as I got into bed, I realized how sore, tired, battered and achy my body was. I hadn’t really slept since before the birth. I put my head down, and had my first good nights sleep. Usually after my (natural) births, I get into bed and cuddle my baby. I don’t leave my bed for 2 weeks. As i instruct my birthing ladies. I think it’s so important to rest and heal after birth. This time I am up and down, going back and forth. Pumping every few hours, along with trying to recover from a c section. I’m apparently not allowing it to slow me down…my girls need me..!
After my good nights sleep, as soon as I walked into the Nicu, I started bawling. I had missed them so much! After holding them and getting a good report on them I was able to calm down.
I had my many staples removed yesterday. Such a relief. I feel like my body is starting to heal. I’m still taking pain meds, anything I do is too much. I try not to notice, while I’m with the girls. I wish I could just stay in bed..

Coming home last night was wonderful. My family worked hard all day getting the house ready for my return. It was beautiful. I got to eat dinner with them. Give them all good night kisses, and sink into my bed. Chanan gave me a much needed foot massage, and finally some water retention came down!

Now, it’s morning. Time to pump again, eat breakfast and head to the hospital to visit my Mia Bug and Zoey Bean.