My journey with my NICU Baby
I was pregnant with my third baby and at 30 weeks I started bleeding and loss a clot of blood. I had placenta previa and he was breech. I went to the hospital and in less than 12 hours it was decided that he need to come. His heart rate wasn’t staying up and every time it dipped it would take longer and longer to come back up.
We hadn’t picked a name yet, we were still suppose to have 10 weeks to decide on one. They pulled a tiny little baby out of me and he cried, we picked a name so fast and he was taken away to the NICU.
NICU is Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, it’s where the smallest, newest people go for care.
It is the scariest, sweetest place in the whole hospital. As a mom you walk in after washing well enough to perform surgery, and in some cases are gowned as well. Parents seem huge next to the tiny babies that lay in their beds. Some are able to be held, some only touched, and even some who are only looked at while they lay in their beds.
Being a mom with a child in the NICU is really hard. In most cases there is very little you can do to care for your own child. Here are some things that you can do while your child heals.
First, take care of yourself. While you baby is healing in the hospital, take the time to sleep, eat well, shower, and –doctor permitting- slowly start exercising. You are important too, so take the time for yourself.
When the doctors say there is nothing you could have done differently, BELIEVE them!! They are not saying this just to make you feel better, they are saying it because it is true. As moms we sometimes carry so much guilt when things happen to our kids, and you don’t need to add that extra burden while you have a sick baby. Sometimes these things happen and there is no rhyme or reason to it.
Also, know that right now the best place for them to be is in the hospital. It is so hard to leave the hospital leaving your baby behind to be cared for by others, but they are in the best hands possible. The nurses and doctors there are so well equipped to take care of your baby and they are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet.
Get to know the nurses on staff. They are the ones that will help comfort you and in some case translate what the doctor has said so you can understand what is going on. They don’t mind the phone calls to the floor when you are worried or have a question. They will love your baby as best as they can until you can take him home.
Pump if you can. Breast milk is still the best whether it is directly from the breast or from a feeding tube. If you are not able to there are other options like donated milk or formula, and in many cases calories are added to help your baby gain weight.
While you are in the NICU visiting your baby get to know the moms next to you. They understand what you are going through and what you are feeling. You may be bed neighbors for a few days or a few weeks. They will cry with you, laugh with you, and be to one that knows what it feels like to hold someone so fragile. I am still friends with the woman whose daughter was in the bed next to my son. And every year we both marvel at the miracle that is our children.
Once you bring your baby home you may have feelings of being inadequate. Those feelings are normal and will go away as you spend more time with your baby. You soon will realize that you are just what your baby needs.
Sadly not everyone will go home with their baby. It is true and the hardest part of having a NICU baby is the realization that some babies are too sick/small to ever come home. Cherish the time you have with your baby, knowing that every moment you spend with him/her counts.
Having a NICU baby is not the easiest thing. It’s scary and gut wrenching. But know that you are not alone. The feelings you have, no matter how crazy, or hard to explain are valid and real. There is no getting out of this trial, the only way is through it. You can do this, and you will be stronger because of it.
Leah, mom of 6 crazies that run in all different directions.