Although child birth is such a sweet event for new parents, having a premature baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is unquestionably heart-wrenching and painful. The room filled with unimaginably small babies hooked up with numerous wires, tubes, and machines making regular or abrupt beeping sounds at first sight may appear absolutely surreal. Most new parents are often unprepared for this sight: the intense situation of the delivery room is replaced by another more intense one in the NICU. Feeling disoriented as well as emotionally drained is quite normal during the first few days in the NICU. In this circumstance, parents often are confused regarding what to and not to do while visiting the precious bundle of joy in the NICU. Having spent three months in the hospital with my baby, I figured out the days in the NICU are the roughest ones.
Don’t Regret: Share!
It’s quite normal to go preterm, despite all the precautions and care you took yourself for months. You don’t have any control over it, so accepting the reality is the right thing to do. When I first saw my baby connected to all the machines, I held myself responsible for it. It was a strong feeling of regret that almost crippled me. Sharing my feeling with professional therapists and two lovely mothers who delivered two micro preemies saved me from accusing myself. Take the lid off, talk, and share as much as you can! Always remember, you are not alone! Many like you are going through it right now. And, like many, you will handle it successfully soon!
Don’t Lose Hope: Believe!
Yes, miracle happens! Yes, there is a Divine power! Just have faith! You are about to experience the thin line between life and death, and as you will see, most of the times it is life that triumphs over death. You will see the unbelievably small baby slowly gets bigger and brighter, thanks to the relentless care and support of the amazing nurses and doctors! Trust them, appreciate them! It’s a good idea to remain informed, but getting obsessed with the machines and interpreting the numbers seldom help the little one in any ways. Rely on the doctors and the nurses: they do their best! Sometimes the little angels just go away after a brief stay at this surreal place. The grief is crushing, the pain is unbearable, and the agony is profound to face this so untimely departure. Just tell yourself one thing: everybody tried with love and care.
He Needs Your Touch: Hold Him!
Yes, it is love and warmth straight from your heart that will do the miracle! Trust me, kangaroo-care after your breast-milk is the best medicine for the little angel! Get a kangaroo-care shirt, if possible. Spend as much time as possible with your baby: hold him tight to your chest. The nurses will be glad to help you do that, even if you go there at 3 o’clock in the morning! Share your concerns with them, they will be happy to resolve! There is no right time for it! Get involved: change the baby’s diaper, take his temperature! Always give a hand to the attending nurse. Remember, soon you will be home with your little one!
Time Runs Fast in the NICU: Freeze it!
Take lots of photos. You wouldn’t believe how fast your little one will grow, and how soon s/he will come home. Time runs pretty fast here in the neonatal intensive care unit, so it’s better to freeze it. You will treasure these photos later. And, the little one will be surprised to see these once grows up. Preserve the memories! Don’t forget to transfer the photos to a safe and reliable place. Better if you get those printed as soon as possible. And, never use the flash while taking photos. This poses a serious threat to the baby’s eye-sight. Silence your device and shut off the flash before you click.
Your Baby Needs You in the NICU: Take Care!
Yes, don’t forget about yourself. Ask for help when you need it! Don’t hesitate! Your baby needs you! Get enough sleep, eat healthy! Take shower before you visit the neonatal intensive care unit. Remember, in most cases you do not have anything to do with the treatment procedures. So, give yourself time; if possible go for a brief walk, get some fresh air. Find a balance between your life in the NICU and outside. It’s okay to get exhausted, but it’s not okay to remain so. Keep protein bars and other snacks with you at all times. Hydrate yourself!
Friends and Family in the NICU: Please, Behave!
Before you visit a mother and her precious baby in the NICU, do some homework. Don’t comment on the shape and size of both the baby and the mother. A comment like “Oh, it’s breast cancer, at least it is not blood cancer!” sounds brutal. Don’t inquire about the reasons behind the preterm labor, or better if you don’t ask any questions at all! And, don’t say anything negative at all! Well, certainly you can praise the baby and the mother! Come with little gifts, a simple card will suffice! Share stories of mothers with similar cases, mothers who went home with their little ones. Show love, sow hope! Yes, tell the mom how you can help, and help her if she needs it. Properly sanitize yourself before you enter the NICU!
Moms, trust me, I have been through it! It just takes a little patience and lots of love to help the beautiful little angel face this critical step of life. Yes, with your love and warmth the tiny little hands will soon grow bigger and touch your face with all the wonders of the world in his/her eyes! You will soon rediscover that life is beautiful, and that love restores life! Enjoy!