The Windschitl preemies: ‘Ours for the lovin’

By Sara and Nick Windschitl

Sara and Nick are the new parents of twins Bryn and Nora, who were born at 27 weeks.

When we heard that November was Prematurity Awareness Month, we thought, “Wow—people need a month to be aware of prematurity?” People who don’t have preemies probably never think about prematurity (unless they had a preemie Cabbage Patch doll like I did when I was 5), and people who do never STOP thinking about preemies. I know Sara and I haven’t! In June, the two of us wrapped up our school years. I said goodbye to my kindergartners, Sara said goodbye to her third-graders, and we jumped excitedly into a summer of Expecting Twins.

Sara prepared herself for getting huge, I started putting cribs together and we oscillated between excitement, disbelief and freak-out moments. At our 19-week ultrasound, we learned that Sara’s body might not want to hold these babies in as long as they needed to fully cook, and at 22 weeks she was sentenced to Hospitalized Bed Rest—her greatest pregnancy fear.

Five weeks later, the babes had had enough and decided to grace us with their tiny presences at 27 weeks. If you know anything about preemies, you know that 28 weeks is kind of the “safety zone” when it comes to avoiding a laundry list of long-term health issues, but despite Sara’s attempt to keep her legs crossed as tight as she could, the girls chose Aug. 6 as their birthday.

It was scary for us to know we had 27-weekers. Bryn weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and Nora weighed 2 pounds. But they were breathing on their own just a few short hours after birth and showing us their fighting spirits. This, along with the prayers being poured out from our friends and family (and strangers!), gave us an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. We also knew that at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we were in one of the best places in the world for preemies (yeah, we Googled that, too). The doctors and nurses that we encountered at Children’s were incredible. Each had skills that very few people in the world possess—the ability to not only care for these micro babies but also to work with parents who are scared yet extremely protective of the little lives they created.

Fast forward a month, and the girls were ready to move into the Infant Care Center at Children’s, where we continued to receive great individualized care. They moved into a class of “feeders and growers” with minor hiccups here and there—breathing issues, a hernia surgery, feeding struggles. There were days we just wanted to stick them in our pockets and make a run for it, get them home and start our new normal. After three months in the hospital, all we wanted was to tuck our girls in ourselves and read them a bedtime story without the constant background music of the monitors or to make farting noises on their bellies without wires getting in the way. That’s what every dad wants to do, right?

(As we write this, we are going on Day 98 in the hospital and are preparing to bring our girls home the following day!) What we’ve waited for so long now seems like the most daunting and scary thing we could ever do. We are keenly aware of our blessings these last 98 days, as having 27-week-old twins could have had a lot more downs than ups, but here we are, ready to bring home a 5 ½ pound baby and a 7 ½ pound baby—both healthy and ready to keep their parents from ever sleeping again!

Fast forward another 24 hours and these beautiful girls are home, where Sara and I are doing the normal parenting things, like checking to make sure they are breathing at 3:31 am.  Yep, these girls are healthy!  They are no longer those little translucent red nugget preemies that blessed this world in August.  They are real, wireless, peeing, pooping, crying, smiling, wide-eyed (only at 3:31 in the morning) babies.  Yes, we still need to be very cautious with these girls.  No, we won’t be taking them to the store.  We won’t be able to have many visitors.  We will be hand-washing and “foaming in” so frequently that a person outside of Preemie Land would say, “You MUST be OCD.”  I guess Children’s did one heck of a job on us because, as all parents of preemies know, we need to be!

Just like Sara’s pregnancy, the future is scary and unknown, but thanks to Children’s, we have babies who are breathing, growing and finally ours for the lovin’.



9 thoughts on “The Windschitl preemies: ‘Ours for the lovin’

  1. Shelley Namtvedt

    Congratulations you guys on getting to go home!!! Quite a journey you have been on. Enjoy every moment of those two beautiful girls.


  2. Mary Andert

    Hi Nick and Sara,
    Congratulations on this wonderful milestone of getting your girls home. It was wonderful to see the double stroller loaded with your precious Bryn and Nora ready to go home. As you know already (it does not take new parents very long to figure it out), when the girls are resting you need to take your time for resting. It is exhausting to be a new parent – so take care of yourselves.
    I know that each moment you hold, change, feed your girls you are thinking about this wonderful gift of life…. it is so amazing. Cherish each moment – even the poopy diapers, because the time goes so very fast and before you know it, it’ll be August 6, 2013 and you’ll wonder where the year went.
    Continued prayers go out each day for you and your sweet bundles of joy.
    God bless you all!

  3. Michelle

    What a great story. I’m the mom of a 28w2d 2lb8oz preemie who’s now 8 with no indications she was ever so tiny. Unless you witness it, there’s no way to describe how incredibly strong and resilient these little ones are (or how horrifying it is to leave the hospital every day without your baby). Our daughter was also at Children’s and its just such a fantastic place I can’t say enough about it. So happy to see that you’re home with your little ones now.

  4. Karen Martin

    Congratulations! It is so great to know that these girls are home with you! I have thought of your family off and on since 19 weeks and I am so glad there is a happy ending. Congrats again from the Southwest MPP!

  5. Becky Slabiak

    Congratulations on your healthy little girls. Your story made me weep with thanksgiving and nostalgia as we had a similar experience, though they weren’t quite as early as your girls. We have 15 month old twin girls, Etta and Elsie who were born on August 19, 2011 at 31 weeks. I had been on bed rest for a couple weeks and in the middle of the night my water broke and then Etta’s umbilical cord prolapsed (meaning it was coming out!) so they were born immediately upon arriving to Abbott via ambulance through an emergency c-section. We too can’t begin to say enough wonderful things about all the superb care delivered by everyone at Abbott and Children’s NICU and ICC. Though their stay wasn’t as long as your girls (about 1 month) your story made me reminisce about our similar experience. Blessings to you and your family and enjoy the wonderful (though exhausting!) first year. It goes WAY too fast! Happy holidays! -Becky Slabiak

  6. Debbie Falk

    I was reading this morning paper and saw your journey with your babies and I just want to say this brought tears to my eyes when my son was only 7 day’s old he was rushed from the dr.’s office to Childrens ICU and all the Dr.’s and nurse’s we’re great it was a very scary thing we didn’t know what was wrong with him he ended up having emergency surgery to open up a block in his intestine. God bless your family and have a wonderfull Thanksgiving.

    God Bless
    Debbie Falk

  7. Nicole Call

    So glad the girls made it home and Brynn recovered from her surgery. We were praying for them. I am a preemie mom myslef, my son jameson was across the hall from your girls. Can’t say enough good things about children’s hospital. Enjoy your double bundle of joy.

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