First off, I would like to thank Samantha for hosting me here. You’ve become such a great friend, and I enjoy being able to see your little micro-preemie growing into such a beautiful little princess.
Part of Samantha’s mission is to spread awareness and information about prematurity with her Princess Preemie Primer. With that in mind, I would like to offer my own little Primer regarding life in the NICU.
You see, my little man is also a NICU graduate. T was born at 32 weeks. He was 4 ½ pounds. He was also one of the biggest preemies in the NICU. He was born during that time when the doctors are worried about development, but not survival.
The thing with the NICU, is it can be a very scary place. The lights are kept very low, people speak in whispers, and there are so many rules! We had to scrub our hands and arms every time we entered the NICU, similar to how a doctor scrubs up for surgery. T was in the NICU so long, that soap started irritating my hands and they were constantly dry and cracked. I went through so many bottles of lotion!
Here are a few things you need to know about having a baby in the NICU:
--The nurses know more than the doctors do. They also know your baby by name, without looking at a chart. They are the most wonderful people in the world. Your baby is in good hands when you can’t be there.
--Related to that: Do not feel guilty if you are not sitting by your baby’s side every moment. There are things at home you need to take care of. You might have to go back to work. You have to take care of yourself. This would be true if you brought your baby home the day after he was born, and it’s true now.
--Write down what goes on. T is about to turn 5, and there is a lot I don’t remember from his 78-day stay at the NICU. I have to read his discharge summary and look at pictures to get a few of the memories back. Whether you keep a journal, make notes in a baby book, or start a blog (heh), you will thank yourself for the memories later.
--Educate yourself. The March of Dimes is a fantastic resource for information on prematurity. Take notes at the hospital and look up anything that doesn’t make sense later. You can also ask the nurses for more explanation. When the doctor told me T had a Grade III IVH, he forgot to tell me what the letters stood for. I asked a nurse and she explained, in simple terms, that it was an intraventricular hemorrhage, and then she explained the different grades. I went home and did some of my own research on it, so that I understood what had happened to my baby, and the possible consequences.
--Don’t obsess over what you did wrong to cause this. Sometimes a baby is born premature, and nobody really knows why. Unless you were smoking and drinking throughout your pregnancy, there’s a huge possibility that it was unavoidable. T was born prematurely because his umbilical cord was coming detached from my placenta. Nobody knows why it was detaching itself. It just happened. It had nothing to do with anything I did during my pregnancy. Unless it was that Pepsi I drank. Yeah, that was probably it.
Roxanne - Thank you again for such an fantastic post!