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Family photo in the NICU

Twins' Tickets Out of the NICU


Kelley Sackleh

June 11, 2019
Our fraternal twins, Dylan and Reagan, were born at 33 weeks and 2 days on October 14, 2018, and their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) journey started the same day. My husband Chris and I felt helpless and it seemed as if nothing could’ve consoled our heartache and worry.

Thankfully, GBMC has an excellent NICU team that supported us throughout our babies’ time there. I genuinely considered them to be my personal cheerleaders. Whether it was a hug, a kind word of encouragement, or a pleasant conversation to help ease my racing mind, the staff was always there for me. Caregivers explained every alarm and necessary action, down to what each needle was meant for. My family’s journey was long and tough, but the most heartwarming thing was how much everyone truly cared for my twins. They had just met Dylan and Reagan, but they treated them like their own.

On November 1, Dylan was released from the hospital. We were beyond ecstatic and grateful to finally welcome him home, but it was a bittersweet day because our daughter, Reagan, was not yet released. Having two children in the NICU was extremely hard, but having one at home and one at the NICU took a huge toll on us.

One challenge rolled into the next – my breast milk supply began decreasing. The NICU team patiently gave me advice about how to help restore my supply. After many trials and errors, we were presented with the option to obtain donated breast milk for the twins. Although we were skeptical at first, the staff explained the screening process and how the milk would be cleaned, assuring us this opportunity would greatly benefit both babies, but especially Reagan.

Our NICU experience totaled 40 days, and in this span of time, not only did we receive support from the doctors, nurses, and staff in the NICU, but also from the parking attendants, cafeteria staff, and pharmacy staff. Parking attendants always asked, “How are the twins doing?” I would visit the cafeteria nightly to satisfy my Snickers bar craving, and the manager was swift to pick up on my habit. One night, the cashier noticed I was leaving without a Snickers because they had run out. As I passed through the checkout line, the cashier said, “Ma’am, are you the one with twins in the NICU? My manager asked me to give these to you.” I looked down and there sat three Snickers bars, which the manager had personally bought for me. When I visited the on-campus pharmacy to have my medication refilled, I was unable to wait for the prescription because I needed to relieve Chris in the NICU. To my surprise, one of the pharmacy staff members delivered the prescription to me in the NICU later that day. Words can’t express how much these small gestures meant to me as an anxious mother.

On Thanksgiving Day, I convinced Chris to come home from our alternating hospital shifts so we could share a meal together. Four hours later, my personal cheerleaders blessed us with a “Thanksgiving miracle” -- we received a phone call that finally made our family complete: “Kelley, your daughter is ready to go home, Happy Thanksgiving!” And just like that, Reagan was home safe in our arms. Thanks to everyone’s care and dedication, we now have two healthy, happy, and very chunky babies at home. They are eight months old – Dylan is 28 lbs., wearing 24-month clothes and Reagan is 18 lbs., wearing 12-month clothes, so that breast milk is no joke! Yes, our twins were premature, but they are capable of amazing things because they had the best care from the GBMC NICU staff.

We couldn’t have asked for a better team to care for the twins, and us, too. Unfortunately, I cannot remember all the names of doctors, nurses, and other staff members that assisted us, but we would like to extend a sincere thank you to them. Please consider registering for the 31st Annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Walk to support the outstanding NICU staff that will forever be a part of our lives.
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