It is such an emotionally charged time when you have a baby or babies in the NICU. Here is some advice for getting through it:
- Ask any and all questions on your mind (except maybe during shift change—the nurses will probably still help you with a smile, but it is a hectic time for everyone). Take notes when necessary so that you can recall all the information coming at you.
- Learn from the pros. These nurses know their stuff! If you let them do what they do best, you will bring home calm, scheduled babies who are ready to be loved and fed.
- Give in to your emotions when you need to (that goes for you dads as well!). Having a baby or babies in the NICU is an emotionally charged experience. There will be tears; just go with it and do not be mad at yourself for not being stronger. It is okay. Moms: remember that your hormones are surging. You will have very bad emotional days that you just have to fight through.
- Respect the babies around you. It is so important to remember that all the babies are there for serious reasons. Allow the nurses to easily move around you when you are visiting your child, speak quietly, and focus on your baby even if you hear commotion nearby.
- Recognize that parenting is a team effort. You and your significant other are a team—you need to support one another and share the visitation and “routine care” opportunities as much as possible.
- Know you are learning important parenting skills. If you can learn to change a diaper through the isolette portals, with the stress of multiple tubes and wires running every which way, you can change a diaper under just about any circumstance!
- Have faith in yourself. Unfortunately, you simply can’t take the NICU monitors (or nurses) home with you! While you may be tempted to beg to take home the heart rate, breathing, and saturation monitors, you’ll quickly realize that you and your baby are fine on your own, and your instincts and common sense will take over. You’ll get to know your baby so well that you’ll be able to instantly tell if something is “off.”
- Be thankful. Be thankful for the way you are treated and for the way your babies are cared for while in the NICU. Thank the nurses for their hard work.