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Before my little one was wheeled over to the NICU after being born 15 weeks early due to complications out of my control I never really knew what to expect. To see it first hand was nothing like I had imagined in my head. I cried walking in. I cried walking out knowing I couldn’t bring my little one with me. It’s a scary unstable place for all parents. Read my full pregnancy story here.
Nobody wants to leave their baby in the NICU. It is one of the worst feelings as a new parent that instead of taking your baby home with you they will stay in the hospital. That there will be doctors and nurses doing things for your baby that you can’t. Or how about how many tubes, tests or pokes your baby will go through during their NICU stay.
All in all its, not a place you can prepare for. Every baby will have a different reason for being there. Since my baby has made her home the NICU for a few months I have gathered a list of things that have helped me and her during our stay. I hope some of these things can help your baby during the first days, weeks or months into the world.
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1. A notebook.
I know what you are thinking how can a notebook help. You will be overwhelmed with medical terms and updates. Unless you have a photographic memory you won’t remember it all. I found it useful during the first few weeks as so much was happening at once and I knew I could jot information down and go back to it later when I wanted to do my own research or follow-up on it in the future. Also, it’s a good keepsake to have to show your baby when they are older the experience they went through and a memory to look back on.
2. A disposable camera.
I didn’t even know they still made these things until a friend mentioned the idea to me. Let’s be realistic you cannot be by your baby’s side 24/7. You will need to rest, go home, work, or care for other children and it’s not healthy to never leave as you deserve brakes too. Buy a disposable camera I found mine on amazon here and leave in your babies room. That way when you can’t be there the nurses can capture cute moments for you. The photos will be a great memory to look back on. Just check with your nurses first in case they have any rules against it.
3. Baby books.
When your baby is hooked up to monitors you feel helpless as a parent. It’s frustrating to not be able to do the everyday things that normal parents are able to do. I found it completely therapeutic for myself and hey it’s also good for your little one. Your baby finds comfort in your voice and it was the only thing I could really do until my little one was able to be held for extended periods of time that made me feel like a mom.
4. A large bag.
It’s surprising how much stuff you carry with you to and from the hospital. It’s a good idea to carry an extra bag for your little one such as blankets or onesies. You will also be taking dirty laundry with you home and you can just throw it in your bag so you don’t forget to take with you. I found this completely beneficial for me as my arms were always full of clean clothes, a water bottle, and snacks.
I know that sounds easy enough but you will be amazed how many times during your visits that you will need to remind yourself to eat. I found it super useful to throw healthy snacks and gum in my bag. The hospital where my little one was at didn’t allow food by the bedside, but I was able to go to the family room right outside and eat a snack.
6. Voice Recorder
One of the nurses recommended the idea to me. Use a voice recorder like this one and record yourself singing lullabies, reading books, bible versus, poems, prayers, or whatever else you want to say to your baby. The nurses can then play back to your baby when you’re not there.
7. Crib Mobile
When or if your baby is in a crib the hospital may be able to provide one if not bring one in like this one and attach to your baby’s crib. My little one isn’t able to follow the movement of the mobile but she does love to look up at it and hear the lullabies.
8. Portable Music Player
An alternative to a crib mobile is a portable music player. You can stick it in the crib and play lullabies for your baby. I also bought this dream soother that attaches to the crib that plays music, lights up and the fish actually move around. My baby loves this.
A baby swing or even a bouncer is a great idea to bring into the NICU for your baby. Just check with your babies nurse or doctors before bringing one in to ensure your baby is ready for one.
Babies love to watch themselves in the mirror. Buy a mirror you can attach to the crib so your little one can stare at themselves.
I know firsthand what the NICU life is like and these 10 things helped my stay with my little one. Most importantly don’t forget to take care of yourself. And remember before you know it your little one will be going home with you.