Learning how to ride the "NICU rollercoaster"?
Being new to the NICU is a very disorienting and overwhelming experience. Perhaps the most frustrating and yet the most apt descriptor is a rollercoaster. Not only have you been through what most likely was a heartrending birth experience, you are thrust into a world of medical terms, monitors, major decisions, doctors, nurses, and numerous members of your baby's medical team. I remember feeling devastated, terrified, and completely at a loss as to how to handle the many new issues that were presenting themselves one after the other. I was aching to be near my tiny babies, recovering from giving birth, learning how to pump, feeling lost, hopeless and anxious, experiencing the vast hormonal shift that occurs in your body after giving birth, and yet at the same time numerous people in my family, friend and work groups were desperately trying to contact me to find out what was happening.
Although the emotional experience is one that each one of us will have after having gone through a traumatic birth, I've put together a few tools for parents new to the NICU; ways of preparing for and organizing your stay that can create a little space for you to cope with all of the new challenges you will be facing alongside your baby or babies. Keep in mind that these are tips that are intended to help new NICU parents to navigate their new situation; please don't take any of these tips as medical advice and always ask your doctors and nurses about issues directly related to your child's health.
Are you a friend or family member looking for ways to help your loved ones with a baby in the NICU?
When you hear about the preterm or medically complex birth and hospitalization of a child of a friend or loved one, it's often overwhelming, and difficult to know what to do to help the situation. Friends and family members often report feeling as though they want to help, but don't know what they can do. Many times, since the NICU experience is foreign, it's hard to know just what the family or the baby will need. The parents of the baby may not even know what to ask for, since the circumstance are both overwhelming and foreign. Families with a baby in the NICU do need your help, it's just hard for them to know what exactly they need and how to ask for it. Here are some tips about what you can do to help: