Leaving Baby at the NICU
A parents’ survival guide for when a preemie needs intensive care
Record Your Baby's Milestones
During my daughter's NICU stay, I couldn’t relate to certain infant-care and baby memory books. My daughter was invisible in them: I couldn't find her story in the chapters on the first month of a baby's life, and I couldn't write in her baby book because the second page was "Baby's Homecoming." Rather than mourn this loss, many parents find great solace in creating their own daily journals. "It's hard to see notable changes at first because so many days feel like two steps forward and one step back," says Roberts, "but when I leafed through my journal and read things like his previous weights, I could see the huge progress he was making." Other parents fill the pages with their questions, fears, and hopes.
Believe it or not, you will want to remember this time. Once you bring your baby home, you'll probably feel tremendously proud and awestruck at what you've all accomplished. Stephanie Lerner-Ernsteen, a social worker and president of the NICU parent-support group at Evanston Hospital, where her own premature twin girls stayed, still can't believe that her twins' arms were once the size of her own little finger.
Make The Nurses and Staff Part Of Your Team
My husband and I felt like we had two important jobs while our daughter was in the NICU: Take care of her as well as we could, and befriend the nurses, who were at her side whenever we weren't. The latter part was easy. The NICU nurses were extraordinarily caring, devoted, and skilled caretakers of both the babies and their parents.
But the nurses are just one part of the medical team, which includes neonatologists, social workers, and respiratory therapists. "We got close to the staff because ultimately the only thing you have is your trust in them," says Roberts, who asked the same questions over and over again. "It helped us build a relationship and learn what was going on with our son."