September is NICU Awareness Month. As a former NICU parent, I can tell you that having a baby in the NICU is not easy. It’s one of the most scariest times you’ll experience.
NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is an intensive care unit specializing in the care of ill or premature newborn infants. It is unfortunately a place that determines whether your baby survives complications resulting from an early arrival or not. For our family, we have experienced both. Madison passed away the day after birth and Maelyn survived.
When I first started this post a week ago, I was going to go into my experience and what we went through but I’d rather go a different route.
I want to tell families going through this time that staying positive is the best thing you can do. Go visit your child as often as you can. Moms, if your hospital offers you to stay with your baby after you are discharged, I encourage you to not do that often.
The reason why I say this is to preserve your sanity. You have to get back into a routine and take care of yourself. Staying in the hospital overnight right after being discharged will take a huge toll on you. I cannot stress this enough.
I remember my mindset the day I left the hospital. I wanted to stay in the sleeping rooms they provided for parents with babies in the NICU but the social worker that worked at the hospital spoke to me the day of discharge and encouraged me not to. She says getting back into somewhat of a routine and taking care of myself is the best thing for my mental state during this rough time.
And I did just that. I needed to recover from my cesarean surgery anyway and because I was being active, I was able to heal quickly. Many were surprised but if you didn’t know, my firstborn was born via c-section as well so that played somewhat of a role in the recovery speed.
The hospital was so kind as to put together a memory box for Madison. It took me a while to have the courage to open this.
I encourage parents to take as many notes as you can. It helps a lot! We were able to ask so many questions. We would get a daily call after Mae’s team did rounds and was updated on progress or decisions that needed to be made for Mae. The notes helped us track Mae’s progress, note different medical terms used and ask for clarification on what they meant.
I still can’t believe almost a year later, I’m sitting in my daughter’s room and staring at her sleeping so peacefully. Amazed at her growth, strength and perseverance. She doesn’t remember what she’s gone through, but my hope is that she always knows that her family and dear friends prayed for her and cheered for every ounce she gained.
That brings me to my last piece of advice: Always check in with your support system. You cannot do this alone. It is a weight that is meant to be carried by more than one person. Having a baby in the NICU is NERVE WRECKING to say the LEAST!!! Don’t assume people know what you’re going through. If you don’t feel like talking about it, then start a journal! Write little notes to your child so when they grow up, they can read it too! Do SOMETHING to get through it. Your baby is a fighter, they get it from you!
These notebooks came with me everyday when I went to visit Mae.
Sending hugs to anyone going through this rough time.