Family Life

From One Mother to Another

posted: 12/14/09
by: Michelle Duggar


This interview is with Betty Hayes, mother from TLC's Table for 12, who shares her own preemie story.

TLC: What are the biggest stress points for parents and family while a baby is in the NICU? What is your advice for getting through this?

Betty Hayes: For me the biggest stress point was the drive back and forth between the hospital and home. I wanted to be at the hospital every minute. I hated going home but I wasn't the patient so I had to. I knew that they had a Ronald McDonald House near the hospital but I felt like that should be used for someone who really needed it. My drive to the hospital was about 40 minutes. Kevin and Kyle were in the NICU so I knew what to expect when the sextuplets were born. Never once did I feel like they were not coming home. I knew deep in my soul that they would be fine; they just needed a few days to adjust to life outside the womb.

When Kevin and Kyle where in the NICU, I went daily. When the sextuplets were born, I had four children at home so I went when I could. We did agree that someone should go everyday so on the days that I couldn't go, Eric went at night after work. Thankfully the babies were only in the NICU for three weeks.

TLC: At what point could you hold your babies? What was that like?

BH: My babies were very large for sextuplets (The largest was 4 lbs. 10 oz. and the smallest was 3 lbs. 9 oz.) so I was able to hold them within the first few days. Every new baby is just like your first. As soon as he or she is placed in your arms you have this amazing unconditional love. Your heart swells and you never want to put them down.

TLC: How did your family help you deal with this stressful situation?

BH: My mother was wonderful while the babies were in the NICU. She helped me recuperate, she baby-sat and she helped me with my housework. Eric's mom was great too because she is a nurse in the hospital where the babies were born so I always had a feeling that they were being watched when I wasn't able to be with them.

TLC: What was your health like?

BH: My health was very good during my pregnancy. I was only hospitalized for 5 days before I gave birth. The biggest health concern for me was the possibility of blood clots in my legs. Since this wasn't a normal pregnancy, I found it difficult to get up as much as I should those first few days after giving birth. The added weight and the C-section didn't make for an easy recovery. I forced myself to walk everyday.

TLC: Did you develop a routine? What was it?

BH: While the babies were in the NICU, we tried to keep life at home as normal as possible for the older children. When the kids were in school I would dash over to the hospital. Eric would go to the hospital in the evening. Once the babies started coming home, the routines really kicked in. Feeding schedules, diaper schedules, calendar of volunteers, maintaining the older kids, getting them to school--and add on the challenge of every press agency wants to talk to us--it was quite crazy but thankfully Eric was marvelous. He planned and organized while I took care of the children. We made a great team. He was and is my rock. I couldn't have done it without him.

Watch video clips featuring baby Josie!

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