Mom Talk

Mommy Survivor’s Guide to the NICU

Whether this was a planned stay in the NICU or a complete shock, you will find that the stay in the NICU is a very difficult and emotional one. It is not a place a mother ever desires to be. Ever. However, how blessed are we that our wee ones are so well taken care of these days?

My son’s arrival was a total shock. He made his debut at 25 weeks and I was terrified. I went in to the hospital with bleeding and severe pain. As this was my first child, I had no idea that pain was, in fact, labor. My son was born within an hour of arriving at the hospital. There was no stopping labor or slowing it down. He was ready to come. NOW. And he did.

So, now what? Whether it is a lengthy stay or just a couple of days there are some things you need to know. From one mom to another, this is not an easy journey, but it is a worthwhile one.

Get this book. Do it. It helps so much. A former NICU mom gave me her copy to borrow and I loved it so much I got my own copy to keep. It explains so many things. The nurses will talk to you and rattle off so many things. You will ask questions, but you will still not quite understand because well, mommy brain at full force. This book is a lifesaver. Get it.

  • Keep a journal. Write down everything. Everything. People that visit, people that call, things the nurses tell you, milestones baby meets…because again, mommy brain is a real thing. And so is stress. This will help you with your baby book when you get baby home but it will also help you be an advocate for your child. Write down all meds they are on, how much they are eating and pooping, and all other vital information. That way you are able to speak up if something is off, or if a tired nurse gets ready to administer the wrong meds to your child.
  • Take care of yourself. This should be an easy, no brainer but it isn’t. You will want to be right there with baby the entire time. However, your body just went through an incredibly traumatic experience and it needs to heal. Allow it. Eat. Drink. Rest. The nurse will call you if anything changes. I promise.
  • Breast feed. At least try it. No, I am not a hard core “you must breast feed” kinda momma. In fact, before my son was born, I had no plans to breast feed. BUT it is so good for them and it will be good for your mommy heart. You are going to feel helpless because there is nothing you can do for your baby while they are in the NICU. But there is. Breast feed. The milk is so good for their little bodies, even if you can only manage a tiny little bit. My son was so early that my milk had not come in yet. I was dry pumping. And it hurt like crazy. But the first time I pumped and got milk, tears came to my eyes. Finally. I could give him SOMETHING.
  • Talk to the patient’s advocate. She will help you so much when it comes to bills. And there will be lots and lots of bills. She needs to become your very best friend.
  • Find a support group. Many hospitals have support groups but you can also find some online. Some of my very best mommy friends came from a Facebook NICU support group. It will be comforting to talk to people that understand your journey.

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy. And it will be joyous. I promise. I know this is not what you had planned but this is a journey for strong mamas and you are just that. A strong Mama. You will get through this and you will be amazing!

12 thoughts on “Mommy Survivor’s Guide to the NICU

  1. Oh, my word. I can just imagine all the emotions going through such an early birth. Keeping a journal is such an awesome idea, I can imagine that you don’t remember a lot of those first terrifying days.

    1. It always helps having someone that has been there to give you advice on things they did or should have done. A former NICU mom gave me the advice about the journal. It was super helpful even with things as simple as thank you cards for people that came by and brought gifts.

  2. When I come across blog post like this I feature them on my inspirational page on my blog. I will be using this one in the coming month. It is special to me because my nephew had to spend a month in the NICU in WV. Thanks for your tips and advice and sharing your story.

    1. It is amazing the community of NICU survivors that is present that many are so unaware of if they have not experienced it themselves. I was totally naïve about premature birth before my son’s birth.

  3. I have two children and they weren’t NICU babies, but I can relate to your post from the sense that I’m a mother as well. I have a friend who has a NICU baby- I will pass this on to her!

  4. Wow, what an early baby and how wonderful are these units taking care of our precious ones. Getting that support in place must be a priority for the parents.

  5. Great tips for new NICU moms!! I have three babies that all spent time in the NICU, so I can totally relate to this post. The breastfeeding piece is so key for preemie babies. I love how you weren’t planning to breast feed but decided to when your babe was born early. It is truly THE BEST MEDICINE for them!! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I had a similar experience. My impatient son was born at 34 weeks! The journal is especially important since so many doctors come and go. I found one of the most nerve-wrecking things was hearing something different from the various medical specialists. There were also a lot of ups and downs. One minute, the baby would be breathing better, the next he would have trouble keeping food down. It is a bumpy road, but you’d never know looking back on it several years later!

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