Congratulations Angela and Darcy!
It's hard to feel joyous when your babe is in the NICU.
Ciara was born at 31 1/2 wks and 3 lbs 13 oz. I had been in the hospital for a month with a placenta previa, so you think I would have been prepared, but I wasn't. I lost a lot of blood and had an emergency c-section and the whole thing was like a bad dream. Ciara was in the hospital for a month, but only in the NICU itself for a week. She was on the ventilator for only 2 days.
Pumping and kangaroo care are the best things you can do for your babies. If your supply seems low, see if there is a lactation consultant that you can work with. NICUs differ in how much they let parents interact with their babies, but all the data shows that preemies do better with kangaroo care, nuzzling at the breast, breastfeeding early etc. It is NOT stressful on babies to be held by mama!!!! So I would befriend the AP friendly nurses and then they would request to be Ciara's primary nurse, and I did everything - held her, changed her dipes (scary doing that the first time thru the incubator!), bathed her, etc.
Ciara is now 7 months old tomorrow and is doing great - she's an exclusively BF chunky-monkey! Her development is right on target for her adjusted age. We are very very lucky and blessed.
BF'ing a preemie can be challenging - find a good l.c./LLL person. I held Ciara all the time and kangaroo'd her even for her tube feedings - I think that helped.
Feel free to PM me.
Oh, and re. slings - I used a kangaroo korner fleece pouch on dd when she was about 6 lbs or a bit under - it seemed to work well for her being so tiny. Then I transitioned to a Maya wrap. The OTSBH was just too big and bulky.