When our daughter was born prematurely the nurses tried to prepare me for the possibility that she might need to spend time the in neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) even before she arrived. Nothing they said prepared me for the next couple of weeks. At the time it felt like the worst thing in the world. Three years later, I can finally see that there were parts of the experience that were a blessing. I wanted to write this post because I remember feeling like a failure and all alone. My best friend, who I am lucky enough to share everything with, including due dates within weeks of each other, was in the hospital room next to us with her full term daughter. It brought up such a mix of emotions for me. On one hand I was overjoyed for my best friend and on the other hand it was a difficult reminder that our daughter could not be with us in our room. I reached out to an acquaintance who I knew had twins who were in the NICU. She provided me with the best support and advice. Now we refer to our NICU time as mommy and daddy boot camp, we got the best training from the nurses. We wanted to share our best NICU Advice & Tips.
Celebrate every milestone
Feeding tubes out, moving into a new crib.
Take lots of pictures
At first when seeing all the tubes, taking photos was the last thing on my mind. But I am so happy we did. I love looking back at the photos to see just how far she has come.
Embrace the schedule
When our daughter came home she was on a schedule and can sleep through anything.
Ask lots of questions
Everyone needs an advocate. You need to be your child’s advocate, it is OK to ask the doctors and nurses to translate doctor speak into “English”.
Leave the hospital and don’t feel like you need to be in the NICU all day and night
We were so fortunate to have a hospital that let us stay there for the weeks that our daughter was in the NICU. It was easy to want to stay in the hospital 24/7. We were allowed to see her every 3 hours and the first day I thought we will go every time even in the middle of the night. Your son/daughter are in the best care possible, use this time to get some sleep because when you get home you will most likely not have a team of professionals helping you.
Ask for help
Since I felt like a failure and was not ready to talk to anyone. I did not post anything on social media or let anyone know about our daughter’s birth. It was not until I was close to a major breakdown that I finally started to think what I would do if it was one of my friends who was in the situation, which was when I finally went through a mental list of friends so I could figure out who I could reach out to help me.
I was not very successful with breastfeeding so I pumped like it was my job. I know it is not for everyone, but it provided me with sanity. It was one thing I could do that the nurses could not. I highly recommend wearing an all in one pumping bra- Simple Wishes All In One Bra which gives you the opportunity to be hands free while pumping. If you continue pumping after I would also recommend an AC adapter so you can plug you pump in while in the car. I also wear a Hooter Hider while my husband drives. It got to the point where I felt trapped in the house because I was exclusively pumping and had to be home to pump every 3 hours.
Hope these tips help you navigate your way through a NICU experience 🙂