'Kangaroo parents' helps premature babies bond

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by Nina Mehlhaf, KGW Staff

khou.com

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 6:50 AM

PORTLAND -- Father's Day morning, a new Vancouver dad is flying out for deployment to Afghanistan, and he's leaving his twin boys behind.

Landon and Brody Dressler were born 13 weeks early, at just over two pounds each. They're being cared for at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

They're mono-mono identical twins. It's a very rare and high-risk pregnancy where the babies share the same amniotic sac and placenta, with no barrier between them.

Now, they spend most of their time in incubators in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

"It's like watching your babies in an isolated box, and when it looks like they're in pain, you can't do anything about it," says dad Josh Dressler. "You can only stick your hands in there, and sometimes you can't even hold them because of what's going on operation-wise."  

Sarah and Josh Dressler have been acting as "kangaroo parents."

Doernbecher has been having amazing success with this technique of several hours of skin to skin contact between premies and their parents.

Studies have proven it to lower the baby's racing heartbeat, increase respiration and appetite.

"You can feel their little heart beat, you can feel them breath and they look at you," Josh said. "You can't change that for the world."

Josh has been getting his Kangaroo Care time, as it's called, in two-fold. A specialist in the army, he's off to Afghanistan for nine months and leaving his wife with two delicate boys and mounting surgeries.

"By being deployed, you don't know what the future holds for them," says Josh. "So they could make it through the nine months, or I get a phone call and one of them isn't making it."

Sarah has lots of family and friends to lean on while Josh is gone. And these growing boys will remember their dad's heartbeat and voice when he comes back.

"It shows you there's something to come back home to, so that's why I want to come back home," he said.

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