I was not aware of how long we would be in the NICU but the doctors suggested until Emma’s real due date. That was August 19th…that was almost 2.5 months away…he must be kidding I thought to myself. But rest asure, he was right! We actually got to take Emma home on her actual due date which was ironic. That date was also when Ryan and I met 9 years prior, it holds a very special place in our hearts and we will always remember it. *August 19th, 2015*
I thought it would be nice to write a post for other moms about NICU must haves and basic info I wish someone would have shared with me prior to our long stay.
- The hospital will have a hospital grade Medela pump for you in the NICU, but you will want one at home. I got the free Medela Starter Set Model from my insurance…but the suction doesn’t even compare to the hospital grade. It is much easier on your breasts. I’m renting mine from Babies R Us. I rent it for 3 months at a time to save money. DO NOT rent the accessory kits, you will get one at the hospital..you can even ask for a second bag and explain you will need one at home and the NICU. The staff at the NICU will also be able to provide you with more supplies after you leave the hospital you gave birth at. (If they are different, my daughter and I were at two separate hospitals)
- This Car Pump Charger will forever change your life! It saved me from being chained to a pumping schedule. There were days Ryan and I wanted to go run several errands or go out to eat and having the ability to pump in the car allowed us to live as “normally” as possible. BEST small investment!
- Drum roll please…..this Pumping Bra is A MIRACLE. That’s it. But seriously I can’t tell you how much nicer my life was once I found this. Goodness I wish I would have gotten it at the hospital as soon as I delivered. This is a necessity for ANY mom that is pumping!
- I can’t stress how important it is to stay hydrated. The first few days we were in the NICU I don’t remember drinking any water…I was so consumed by Emma and all her equipment that I forgot to eat and drink water. I know it is difficult to think about yourself when you have a tiny baby to take care of…but if you are not ok and healthy your baby won’t be either. You NEED to EAT and DRINK!!! I would try to fill my Nalgene Water Bottle at least 3 times while I was there. I challenged myself to make it 4 times some days!
- A binder helped me keep all the paper work organized…the amount of documents we received was insane…it was like a sea of papers!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. LOTS AND LOTS OF QUESTIONS. I can’t even begin to express how important it is to make lists of questions and just ask away. The nurses and doctors are there to help you. It is vital you feel comfortable and understand everything and anything you want to know about what is happening with your baby. There were some questions I asked 3, 4, 7, 10 times before I finally understood or felt comfortable with the response.
- Don’t be afraid to question what the doctor’s are doing. (respectfully) We learned this instantly, we are the parents, this is OUR baby girl. We need to feel comfortable with the decisions made by doctors and nurses…if we did not we would ask them politely to stop until someone spoke with us and gave us their reasoning behind decisions. We were the “crazy” parents that spoke up about EVERYTHING. Some doctors were shocked at how many questions we asked but they finally realized it wasn’t that we didn’t trust them but WE had to feel comfortable with the decision and most importantly as parents to our tiny little Emma we had to ADVOCATE for her to the best of our ability.
- Understand that you may not “like” every doctor or nurse that takes care of your baby. We had some AMAZING nurses and there were a few we thought did not “mix” well with our personilities and perhaps were not as “gentle” as we would like with Emma. In our eyes Emma was such a small fragile person we wanted to make sure everyone around her handled her with care. But we began learning that some nurses really treated her as a normal newborn vs. a tiny preemie. The most IMPORTANT thing…be polite and respectful…BUT DON’T feel like you can’t speak up. There were a few times Ryan and I wish we would have said something or requested a nurse not come back and take care of Emma. Don’t be afraid to tell the head nurse if there is a nurse you did not “mix” well with and would prefer not to have her watch your baby. Bottom line..it’s your baby and you NEED to feel comfortable with the people taking care of him or her.
- Understand that all doctors and nurses use the word “NORMAL“. OH MY GOODNESS, I could have slapped MANY MANY people who used that word. I finally expressed to some of the staff at our NICU the intensity of the word “normal”. When we would ask questions we would usually hear “that’s normal, don’t worry, or yes that’s normal for this point of their life”. That word was thrown around so easily. I tried explaining to the staff that for them everything was “normal“, but to brand new parents or first time parents to a NICU this was a foreign, scary world full of noises that will rattle you to your very core. I wanted them to understand that they needed to be a bit more considerate with each individual situation. There were many things done and said that were so basic and routine for them that TERRIFIED Ryan and I. There was nothing routine about anything surrounding our lives. We wanted to make sure we were not just another number in line, the longer we stayed the longer they started getting to know Ryan and I as people and not just Emma’s crazy parents! And we will always appreciate their efforts!
- SO MANY MONITORS AND SOUNDS…oh the SOUNDS! A machine going off every few seconds the neighbor baby having a rough day and you watching their info pop up on your babies screen. There is a lot you need to try to familiarize yourself with …but guess what…you never will. Even the day Emma was leaving an alarm went off because we disconnected her Pulse Ox but didn’t turn the monitor off, Ryan and I jumped. The best advice I can give you- it’s ok to jump but don’t be scared of the reason, be proactive. The machines and monitors have very small ranges and many nurses will let your baby help themselves get back to normal before they intervene. This was SO difficult for Ryan and I to understand, we wanted a nurse with Emma constantly if there was any alarm going off. We later came to realize just how much preemies fluctuate. Don’t always panic, know that there are always staff around watching and monitoring your babies stats.
- Most importantly I wish someone would have told me to just relax and take it hour-to-hour, day-to-day. Don’t focus on the future, just focus on enjoying your newborn. I took a TON of pictures and video of Emma so I could look at them no matter where I was. I think these pictures and videos SAVED ME!
Now Emma says enough pics and just LOVE me 🙂