September is NICU Awareness Month. This month was designed to honor the families experiencing a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who care for them. We reached out to a couple of brave Max + Moose mamas and asked them five questions about their experience in the NICU. For the next five days, we will be sharing what they had to say.
What advice do you have for present + future NICU mamas about to experience?
The NICU will change you and that is okay. It will show you what is important in life and will provide perspective. It will teach you to never give up and that you are stronger than you realize. (Jenny Saunders - @OurLifeAfterNICU)
To not be afraid to speak up about your concerns. It’s very easy to feel “small” in a way when your little one is admitted. The staff are experienced in what they do, and they do a darn good job - but never dismiss, or fail to bring your concerns to their attention. Every baby is different and your connection with your baby is unexplainable. There were a few times that a well experienced nurse attempted to push their own personal opinions on what should and should not be done with my daughter that did not coincide with what I wanted. I thank God for my headstrong, yet understanding nature; otherwise my daughter would’ve gotten formula versus being given the opportunity to nurse her myself. Never be afraid to stand up for your baby and what you want for them. (Kamri Pitchford - @hellakidsinhere)
Ask as many questions as you can, be informed on what is going on with your baby. The doctors have the best intentions but sometimes are the best at communicating what a certain term means, they are more then happy to answer them if you have no idea what in the world they are talking about. it also helps ease the anxiety when you have a better understanding what's going on. (Alyssa Andrus - @max_and_moose)
Be prepared for the long haul. Not that we don’t have faith in our little ones strength, but the nurses and doctors are going to want to keep them there until they really are “ready”.As hard as it is, don’t try and rush it. The last thing you want to do is take your baby home before they are “ready”; even if you might be. My best advice? Be prepared to stay there until their due date.. and if you go home earlier, it’ll be a nice surprise :)
Celebrate the tiny victories. With that being said, remember to celebrate every victory, big or small, and don’t be discouraged though if it feels like they’re taking “a few steps back”. Remember, good things take time and your precious babe is no exception.
Document EVERYTHING. Take pictures and videos of everything; regardless, picture perfect or not! Even if you can’t take pictures (which sometimes happens), journal! Write down everything they did that day, add it to their baby book, so you can hold on to those special moments that can be overlooked when they are in a place like the NICU. You will be so thankful you did.. and so will your baby.
Speak up. While it may seem like the doctors and nurses are the ones calling the shots, remember that you are ultimately your baby’s mother. If there is anything you are uncomfortable with or unsure of, speak up! Ask questions and offer your input. Don’t feel like you can’t, and know that if anyone makes you feel that way, they’re wrong. Ask to speak to someone else. The NICU staff are only there to help get your babe on the right track, but at the end of the day, this is YOUR child. You do what you feel is right.
Snuggle and kiss your babe every chance you get. This last piece of advice is something I’m sure I don’t have to tell you.. but, I still will. Don’t forget to snuggle your babe extra tight and give them all the kisses in the world. Know that NICU babies are some of, if not, the strongest babies, and know that a lot of is has to do with you. They know you are there, supporting them every step of the way. They feel your love and feed off of it. And although there are days where you feel like you might die of a heartache, I guarantee that gut-wrenching sting you feel every time you leave the NICU without your little, will come to an end. That one day, your baby will be walking out of those doors and coming home WITH YOU! (Tori Casanova - @toricasanova)
Everyone is going to want updates. You are not obligated to text or call anyone back, or to post anything to social media! Truly, less is more. As scary as the situation is, sharing can exacerbate your own fears. I faced many people asking (daily!) if it seemed that my baby would “pull through,” or if the doctors could “guarantee” she would never have another issue. In their own fear, loved ones may spur your own anxieties. You will quickly learn to put up boundaries to stabilize yourself, and that’s absolutely acceptable. (Casey Yost - @caseyfromaway)