Having a sick child is stressful and most people, thankfully, have not had to experience having their child in the hospital for an extended period of time. When my little one was in the hospital, we also had big sister at home. On top of that, I was working remotely and my husband worked a combination of from the office, remotely, or while traveling. We were grateful that things were as flexible as they could be so that we could spend as much time at the hospital as possible. We knew it was going to be a long haul because, though no one knows for sure, the best guess for babies in the NICU is that they will be there until their due date. Our mini miracle came into the world at 25 weeks and 1 day, so the estimated length of stay was fifteen weeks. Remember, I am not a medical professional, simply a mom that has been through it and hopes that my shared experience might assist or enlighten others.
What do you do at the NICU? There are a lot of little things you can do to help support your preemie and our hospital staff was very supportive. First, they gave us two Snoedels (snoedel.com). These are little dolls designed to hold your scent so that it will be comforting to your preemie. There were two so that we could swap them our and she would always have one while I would wear the other one. Next, I was pumping to feed our wee one and to maintain a supply until she was strong enough to breastfeed (We are still working on this.). All the staff also encourage you to get as involved as possible with things like diaper changes, baths, and belly massages. Finally, as long as baby can tolerate it, mom and dad are encourage to participate in kangaroo care.
Kangaroo care is stripping baby down and holding them skin to skin on your chest. This encourages bonding and helps to stimulate the growth that baby missed out on in the womb. It can also help with brain development.
There are lots of things that can change baby's schedule. This could be medical procedures, types of feedings, length of feedings, and more. Usually, the schedule calls for feedings and assessments every three hours or every four hours. This is an example of what a typical day looked like while we were in the NICU and baby still had a feeding tube. We would try to go to the hospital six days a week, but this all happened in the winter, so we did have to take a few snow days.
It is absolutely exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take each day and each new bit of news one at a time and utilize your support system. Talk it out and ask for help, most people want to do something and are waiting for an opportunity. You've got this!
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Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore