So how is a day at the neonatal ward at Akademiska sjukhuset, two weeks in?
We usually have an alarm set on 06.55. The babies are going to be fed at 7. After having prepared syringes with milk the evening before, it only takes a few minutes with the syringes in hot water from the tap, to heat the milk and have it in order to be able to give the babies food.
Feeding should take 20 minutes (and is done every other hour), but our morning tempo is rarely that good. While feeding we usually find a number of things that need to be changed; diapers and bedding any day, and sometimes the tape that holds the feeding tube in place or something else. We are also constantly run out of something and we probably make twenty runs to the cabinets in the corridor every day. We consume lots of diapers, wipies of two kinds, feeding syringes in four different sizes, caps for syringes, pre-filled syringes with sterile water, bottles for milk in two sizes, three different part for the breast pump each time it is used, stickers with the kids ID number on (to put on bottles and syringes), and so on...
Re-supply is usually done in parallel with us parents having a shower, fixing and eating breakfast. We have access to a kitchen and there we have one shelf in the fridge and one in the freezer. Bread, butter and milk is "on the house", and we have juice, yoghurt, serial, ham and cheese of our own.
By now is it time for the babies next meal, at 9 AM. The things we didn't manage to do before that meal we do afterwards, and thus is the time to the 11 AM meal quickly spent...
In the mornings the doctors have checked with the nurses how things have developed over the last 24 hours. If we get any changes in the amount of food that the babies should have, if any tests are to be taken, and so on - now is the time we are informed. We rarely meet the doctors in person any more - while at the ICU we met them many times a day. Information on weight, body temperature, amount of food, when the babies are fed, and so on is noted on paper charts we have in the room. Both nurses, nurse assistants and we parents note things here, so that everybody can follow the events.
We have seldom been able to have lunch before 1.30 PM. Time files in-between baby meals, but after the 1 PM meal we are usually so hungry everything else need to be put aside.
We fix lunch ourselves. We have bought some food and put in the freezer, but even better is the food my mom has made for us - pies, steaks, chicken. Yummy!
During the afternoons we've had family visiting a few times. Adults may visit the ward itself, but children under the age of 6 are not allowed. Our older kids have visited the hospital and watched the babies trough the window.
Anna use a breast pump every four to five hours. The milk is sent of to "the milk kitchen". They store it, fill bottles with the correct amount of milk and return them to us marked and ready to be heated and then given to the babies. Any excess milk is frozen and saved for future need. If there isn't enough milk for a baby, donated breast milk may fill out the demand, or powder milk can to be used. Anna currently has the upper hand in this demand/supply "battle" with our triplets. She does an astonishing job!
Staff is changed in the mid afternoon. Each shift check up on us, do a few checks on the babies and helps us with what we need.
We try to get outdoors at least once per day. We need to get some fresh air and get outside the "bubble" that isolates us here. If the kids haven't visited during the day, one or both of us have driven home to see them and to get new clothes and return laundry. We also try to keep some of the kids weekly routines; Scouts for Ludvig and swim classes for both Ludvig and Siri. (At home the grandparents take turn to take care of Ludvig and Siri and the house.)
The night shift is on from 9 PM. They help us plan and get though the night. They usually take care of feeding at 1 and 5 PM (they sneak into our room and borrow the babies for 20 minutes), and supply us with warm baby milk at 3 PM.
We try to hit the sack after feeding at 11 PM, but rarely go to sleep before midnight. So with some luck we will get three plus three hours of sleep during the night. At 3 AM I do the feeding and Anna runs the breast pump. The last two nights we got half (since someone didn't want to sleep) and we then tried to squeeze in a nap somewhere during the day.
A day passes quickly and is, as you have seen, for the most part organized around the routine of feeding babies every other hour.