The home coming
When my babies were 19 days old, we drove our little family van to the hospital, loaded up with three car seats and the pushchair chassis.
I dressed the boys in their nice complementing three pack of baby-gros, matching blue fleeces (the only thing I have ever bought three identical of) and we popped them into their car seats. My husband carefully manoeuvred the chassis loaded up with our babies in their car seats around the SCBU to say goodbye (‘Crikey does that pushchair have a steering wheel?’) and we were free. Come on boys. Let’s go home and have some fun.
The boys came home on a four hourly feeding routine of six feeds a day at 2pm, 6pm, 10pm, 2am, 6am and 10am. Whilst the time in SCBU had been hard, the nurses had done a wonderful job of setting the boys into a nice feeding routine for us. We just needed to follow it. The journey home was somewhat stressful with a few howlers along the way, but before long we had three car seats plonked in the lounge and they were home. We were now a family of six.
On your marks…
The boys’ key needs for the first few weeks were milk, sleep and nappy changes. They did not need anything else. They came home at their 38 week stage, and they did not need to be rushed into anything.
Feeding the boys was a process. It was the most important thing for them, and the most time consuming thing to us. We had to maintain the routine set by the nurses. The boys had been happy in this routine in hospital. We needed to stick to our side of the deal. We soon had the ‘milk’ process in slick working order. This is the key. Keep to the boys’ milk routine and they would be happy.
When we arrived home we went straight into the 6pm feed. I attempted to breast feed two on the sofa with my (not so) E-zee twin feeding cushion, whilst my husband bottle fed the other. All babies seemed to have enough milk to keep them going to their next feed, due at 10pm.
Daily set- up
During the day the boys were to stay in the lounge. I put a stair gate over the door so toddler boy could not go in unless accompanied. My original plan of using Moses baskets was soon surpassed as firstly I didn’t want to be bending down too much and secondly, the babies were too exposed for their big brother. Even if you have a sweet well behaved child, never leave them alone with access to a baby. So we assembled a cot in the lounge and this was where the babies would sleep during the day.
Also in the lounge I had a basket of clean vests and baby-gros, sheets, muslins and a changing box – wedge changing mat (with old towel as a cover), nappies, nappy bags (larger ones so you can fit three nappies into one bag), nappy cream, a tupperware of cotton wool (lid on, woe betide you if a two year old gets hold of the cotton wool), a small bowl of water for nappy changes, kitchen roll and anti-bacterial spray.
In the first few weeks we followed the process the SCBU had followed which was when doing ‘cares’ (or nappy changes), change the baby before its milk. If a baby needed a nappy change between feeds, we would wait until it was milk time. This seems harsh but SCBU did this as they had lots of babies to look after. I was concerned that if we went out of this routine at home, an impromptu mid-feed nappy change could imply to the baby that it was to follow with a bottle, when in fact it could have an hour or two to go. Obviously this may be different in different neonatal units or if the baby has a sore bottom, but we were comfortable following the pattern for a few weeks.
As soon as the babies came home we started playing classical music in the lounge whilst they were sleeping during the day. I found this helped the soothing environment in the lounge, and the babies had background noise, so that if one was to wake crying, hopefully this wouldn’t disturb the others. Also, their time in SCBU had been noisy from the hustle and bustle in the day time. Over the years I have never worried about making a noise for all my babies. I could even vacuum up to their beds when they were taking naps when they were older, and this very rarely stirred them, and if it did, they were able to settle again. In a busy house, there is not time to not be busy. There is no time to tip toe around a sleeping baby.
Night time set-up
Before you bring your brood home, have a think about where you want everyone to sleep. As I mentioned before, we set up a cot in the lounge for day time naps where the babies would sleep vertically, with a stair gate at the lounge door to prevent unwanted toddler access. Perfect.
We then had a second cot in our bedroom where the babies would again sleep vertically, swaddled, as they were in hospital.
The noise the babies made on their first night home was amazing. We could not sleep because of it. Obviously we had not spent the night with all three before. They were so noisy. If one made a noise, they would all make a similar noise. Bizarre, amazing and just very, very special.