Surviving The NICU
I have kept my birth experience a secret for a very long time from everyone. I still remember every detail, every smell, every sound
Having a child in the NICU is, in my opinion, the scariest situation a parent can ever be in.
When you are pregnant, you never think your child will be in the NICU. But, then he/she is and what do you do? No one ever speaks about it. Most of us do not know someone who’s child was in the NICU. Going to someone who has never experienced their child in the NICU is not the best because they do not understand the severity or all the emotions that we, as parents, feel.
After my daughter was born and I went through the NICU process alone (because no one understood how I was feeling) I decided to make it my job to raise awareness.
Steps to Surviving The NICU
- DON’T BLAME YOURSELF – It is not your fault that your child is in the NICU. I know you want to believe that you did something to cause it, that your body failed your child. But, your body did not fail your child and neither did you. There is nothing you could have done to stop your child from being in the NICU.
- BE ON TOP OF THE NURSES, DOCTORS, AND STAFF – It is okay to ask 1 million questions about your child’s care. She/He is your child and you have every right to know what they are doing and what their plan is in regards to your child’s health.
- IF YOU WANT TO BREASTFEED AND THE NURSES TELL YOU YOU CAN’T, SPEAK TO THE HEAD DOCTOR!! – I can not express this enough!! The guilt of my milk never coming in haunted me for months because I felt like I failed my daughter because I was not allowed to breastfeed her right away. It wasn’t until the end of her stay that a lactation consultant brought me down into the NICU and demanded the nurses let me breastfeed my daughter. By then, it was too late. My milk never came in and I lost that opportunity to share that experience with my daughter.
- YOU DON’T NEED TO EXPLAIN TO ANYONE ANYTHING THAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR CHILD UNLESS YOU WANT TO – It is not your job to constantly update or talk/message people during this time. If you want to sit in the NICU 24/7 (like I did) then you have every right to do so. My phone was hidden in my room. I didn’t care about checking it. The people that mattered showed up at the hospital wondering what was going on and found out then.
- JOURNAL YOUR EMOTIONS – There are so many emotions when your child is in the NICU. Guilt. Sadness. Depression. Hopelessness. Anger. Anxiety. Fear. I wish someone told me to take a few minutes and write down how I was feeling so I could let out the emotions that were tapped inside.
- IF YOU WANT TO BE IN THE NICU 24/7, DO IT!!! – As a mother, we will do anything for our child. That means sacrificing ourselves to protect them. I didn’t even let myself heal after the C-section. I didn’t care. I wanted to be where my daughter was. You have every right to do that. If someone tells you otherwise, ignore them. Unless there is a medical reason for you to lay in bed all day, then be with your child.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EDUCATION OFFERED – Bringing home a child that was in the NICU is different than bringing home a child that was not in the NICU. You have to learn how to take their temperatures, signs to look for, etc. Make sure you learn them and ask as many questions as you need to.
- DON’T BE AFRAID OF YOUR BABY – Many new mothers are afraid that they may break their child or they will accidentally detach a monitor when holding them. The nurses and doctors would not let you hold them if they felt it was unsafe for the baby. If you distance yourself from your baby at this time you may end up regretting it no matter what happens.
- MAKE SURE YOU EAT – Make sure you eat!!! Even if you eat fast, eat something. You need to provide your body with nutrients to heal. Your body is healing too!! Personally, I would have my mother stay with my daughter while I went to my room for 10 minutes to eat.
- IF YOU FEEL LIKE NO ONE IS LISTENING TO YOU IN THE NICU, CALL FOR BACKUP!!! – My daughter had 2 nurses that should not have been nurses. One night at about 4 am, I went back in the NICU after taking a nap because my nurse told me I needed to rest due to bleeding. My nurse told me to go down there to see my daughter for 10 minutes, but to come back because she was worried I was bleeding too much. When I was about to leave the NICU, I was told that if I didn’t feed my child, she wouldn’t be sent home because they need to make sure I can feed her. (I was feeding her every 3 hours. This was the only time I wasn’t because my nurse told me to stay in bed). I called my mom for back up! My mother came rushing to the hospital and told that nurse off. My mother then stayed with my daughter while I followed my nurses directions which was to lay down due to bleeding…..If at any moment you feel like a nurse is not listening to you, call for someone to come stay with your child while you rest!!
Remember, this experience is yours. You may feel like you have no control, but you do. You are still your child’s mother even if they are in the NICU. DO NOT let anyone else tell you otherwise.
P.S. I am proud of you MaMa