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When I first found out that I was expecting twins I knew we would spend a few weeks in the NICU. I would never have imagined how things turned out. Read my full pregnancy story here.
I delivered at 25 weeks due to a growth restriction with one of the girls. They were born weighing 1 lb 9 oz and 1 lb 2 oz. Four days later we lost our sweet Finley. Nothing can prepare you for life in the NICU. Your doctors can advise you, you can google as much as you want or read as many blogs but it would only give you a glimpse of the next few weeks or months of what your life will be like in the NICU.
After making the NICU my home away from home for the past month there are some things I have learned and things you cant prepare yourself for but handle if and when the time comes. Being a NICU parent I can say I truly hope nobody has to go through this life but if you do you will be a stronger person than you thought was possible.
1. Every hour and every day is unpredictable.
I have learned you go forward one step and go back two steps. Your baby will go through several setbacks during their stay at the NICU. Walking into those doors each day will bring butterflies in your stomach as you don’t know if it will be a good or bad day. Celebrate those small milestones such as your baby gaining a few ounces overnight as those are big achievements in our world.
2. You will feel guilty.
I’m still struggling with this and not sure if I will ever overcome. I feel guilty I delivered her early, I feel guilty I lost her sister, and I feel guilty for every obstacle she is going through. But most of all the guilt is that I can’t be there every minute of every day. Her nurses are taking care of her the way I can’t and it’s heartbreaking. This is not how I expected this pregnancy to go or my first month of motherhood. You have to remind yourself your baby is with the most expensive babysitter and in the best hands.
3. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Carry a notebook with you to jot down any questions you can think of. Don’t be shy to ask questions or clarification after all it is your baby. A few questions to ask in the beginning is when can I hold my baby, what is my babies status and what does my baby need to complete in order to come home. Also, ask your nurse if there is something you can do such as diaper changes or other daily cares you can assist with. Don’t be afraid to ask what time the doctors do rounds each day, and if you are able to sit in, and what if you can’t be there.
4. It’s very noisy
We just finally settled into a private room and I couldn’t be happier. First off it’s overwhelming enough having your baby in the NICU but to hear constant alarms going off every minute will drive you insane. It also makes you paranoid as you always assume it’s your babies alarms going off and trying to make sense of the numbers on the monitor not knowing if it’s good or bad. Ask questions and learn what those alarm means and what the numbers on the monitor mean so you know when to and not be concerned.
5. It’s ok to not be there every day.
As a parent you need to take care of yourself as you are useless to your baby if you’re not well. Yes, it’s ok to pamper yourself go get a massage, your haircut, or nails done as this is the time you can do these things as when your baby comes home you won’t want to leave them anytime soon.
6. Relay on your spouse and family members.
I don’t know what I would have done without my wonderful hubby by my side or the amazing family and friends who helped us with food, gift cards. donations or just checking on us or taking care of our pets. Also, don’t forget about all the other moms who are in your exact situation. Our hospital offered several luncheons which is a great opportunity to meet other families. Just know they may need someone to talk to just as much as you do.
7. Many will not understand what you are going through.
You will feel overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting updates and as mentioned above the moments are unpredictable. Don’t be afraid to turn off your cell phones and disconnect from social media for a while. Feel free to assign one person responsible for updating family and friends, or posting on your social media. I was recommended by a family member to use the website caringbridge.com. This site allowed me to write journal updates on my babies progress then post them to social media.
8. You will hear several medical terms.
Don’t be afraid to ask the nurse or doctor to repeat themselves or explain in terms you will understand. You will hear terminology you don’t understand and don’t always assume just because you don’t know that it means something horrible and tragic. Also, be leery of searching the internet for terms as it can either reassure you or stress you out. Take it from a mom you looked up everything and lost countless sleepless nights and gained new gray hairs.
If you find yourself in my situation take some of my advise above and remember to take it one day at a time. Soon your baby or babies will be home with you before you know it.