Our family has been given many blessings, but height has never been one of them. So we were surprised when our twin granddaughters arrived early and were being called the big kids on the block. Even if you're girls, when you're closing in on 4 pounds in the neonatal intensive care unit, you pretty well qualify as middle linebackers.
Because the bruisers in soft pink and white sleepers were doing well and breathing on their own, they were promoted to the unit known as The Village. Technically, this makes them Village People, although they have yet to jump up and sing "YMCA" and do the accompanying arm movements. Maybe next week.
The two babies share an Isoloette which is a large clear plastic box with two holes on each side and one on the end so caretakers can tend to the babies without changing their air temperature. Moms and dads are encouraged to do all the hands-on care in The Village, changing diapers, comforting the babies and taking the babies temps at regular intervals.
The babies are swaddled separately amidst a tangle of wires for IV ports, heart, respiratory and oxygen monitors. There is a 10 to 1 blanket -to-baby ratio. Periodically, the Isolette begins looking like the morning after a slumber party. Blankets and bedding are piled high in wild disarray that says we stayed up all night, laughing, talking, drinking breast milk and having a ball.
The babies are mirror images of one another, perfect in every detail, from their round little heads, to their almond shaped eyes, tiny noses and delicate lips. And yet, like all premies, they are not quite finished. They're on the scrawny side for linebackers. Their little legs lack meat and they would not be comfortable sitting on metal folding chairs.
There are three things premies must learn to do when they are born. They must learn to breathe, feed, and maintain their own body temperature. This is what is happening in the isolette. And one twin is doing this a little faster than the other.
But there is something else happening. They babies have been swaddled afresh and positioned side-by-side. There is a space of four inches between their little heads.
One twin yawns and turns her head and the space between them narrows ever so slightly. Then the other one stretches her neck and the space narrows a little more. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, like watching a cloud slowly inching across a vast blue sky, the babies inch and wiggle until there is but a small sliver of space between them. In an effort to help the twin who is not quite as skilled at maintaining body temperature as the other one, a nurse swaddles them together in one blanket. Heaven.
They are now as close as they can be, not even a pinkie apart. The Isolette is covered with a heavy blanket and the babies are enveloped in shadows to simulate the environment in the womb.
A peek inside several minutes later reveals the one baby has laid her small pink hand on the other one's head as if to say, "Don't worry, I'll warm you." And few minutes after that, they are holding hands.
Two premies in an isolette already have what nearly all mankind longs for -- someone to share the journey with, someone who will give you a pat on the head, and someone to hold your hand.
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