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What Does It Take To Be A NICU Parent?
To be a NICU parent, you must have some ounce of courage and patience. No matter how long your little one is in the NICU, you must have not only the patience to let them heal, knowing you can't take them home until they do; but you must also have the courage to support them and your SO as well. Without the support of at least one other person, being a NICU parent is hell. Going into that part of the hospital can be tough. Just trying to stay strong for your sanity and you precious little baby can be a challenge. Here is an article showing you that you are not alone.
Here Are A Few Tips To Help You!
1. Talk to your little one every chance you get
2. Crying is normal (this one is for you)
3. It may not be easy, but it is worth it.
4. Try to take deep breaths.
5. Support groups are VERY helpful.
Anxiety is Normal
- Anxious to leave your baby after just meeting them is completely normal
- No matter their situation, there are always people ready to help including nurses, doctors, and even support groups of other NICU parents that are going through similar situations.
- It is okay not to open up to people, but it is also okay to ask for help.
- The nurse will answer that question you have, that is, if your pregnancy brain will remember it.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
There are so many people around you or at your fingertips to help you through this difficult time. It's 2017, pretty much everyone has Facebook now, right? Use that to your advantage! If you feel uncomfortable about going to a support group in person, there is a very likely chance you can find groups online that can help you as well as know that there is a world full of people just like you out there.
I Am A NICU Parent Too.
My daughter was in the NICU for 2 and a half months after she was born. About 1 of every 2,000 live births is a gastroschisis baby. Mine just so happened to be one of them. She had to have surgery just minutes after she was born to correct it. Gastroschisis is a long and confusing word, I know. It means that my daughter had a small hole to the right of her umbilical cord and her intestines were hanging out of it. She wasn't in too much danger while in the womb because she was protected by the amniotic fluid. However, I was scheduled for a C Section when I was 37 weeks in order to avoid labor. See, going into labor would have put so much stress on her as well as myself that it could have potentially been fatal for one or both of us. Trying to get through the weekly ultrasounds and the knot in your stomach until they tell you everything is okay is nauseating. You lay there hoping for small talk *(no matter how much you dislike it), can be anxiety inducing in itself. Finally being able to meet your little one is a dream come true. But knowing that they will be stuck in the hospital while you have to go home is heartbreaking. You see all of these happy families taking their newborns home and mommies being so proud makes you want to burst into tears. This is where the support systems come into play.
**Statistics Reference: http://med.brown.edu/pedisurg/Fetal/FetalProgramGastroschisis.html**
Do you know a NICU parent?
Where To Look For Help
- As I said, it is 2017, almost everyone has Facebook nowadays. Maybe look up a NICU parent group, or a mommy group, or even a daddy group.
- Try for the obvious, GOOGLE IT!
- Ask a nurse in the NICU or you little one's doctor if the hospital has one there.
- If all else fails, don't hesitate to just ask your family for help. It may be difficult, but it is more difficult to go though it alone.
What Was It Like Bringing Her Home?
We finally got to bring our baby home the night before Easter this year. We had to stay the night in the hospital the night before just so that if we needed help or had any questions, the nurses and doctors were right there with us. Unfortunately, I had to work the next day so I didn't get to spend the whole day with her and my husband, but I couldn't be happier to have her home with us finally. The first week after I had her and after I had been discharged was difficult. My husband had to go back to work out of town (oilfield), so I felt like I was on my own. I was very hormonal and emotional so I spent most of my time sitting my my daughters crib trying not to fall asleep. It was during one of those days that I was approached by a wonderful woman from Hand to Hold support group. It is a group of NICU parents that met in the hospital to help each other get through their baby's NICU stay. They even gave you necklaces with beads for every NICU milestone. Every week, every pound, first hold, open crib, breathing on their own, first skin to skin hold, etc. It is a light in a dark place for a lot of parents. I will link their Facebook page at the end of this article for those of you that need it or would like it.
© 2017 Carissa Kumiko Bradley