When my son James was born he was immediately sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to unusual breathing. Initially, they said that they were just going to check him out, but to make a long story short, he ended up staying in the NICU for eight days. Those eight days were extremely difficult in many ways for my husband, baby, and myself. Here are some tips that I would give a new parent that has a baby in the NICU:
Tip #1: Don’t Blame Yourself
The thought definitely crossed my mind that it was somehow my fault that James was in the NICU, but it wasn’t. Sometimes things in life happen that we can’t explain, so don’t blame yourself or others for this unexpected event. The most important thing is to be there for your baby!
Tip #2: Accept Help from Family and Friends
It is extremely stressful and emotionally draining to have your baby in the NICU. The last thing that I needed was to be worrying about my house and feeding the dog. If family or friends are willing to help out, LET THEM! We luckily live very close to both sets of parents and they were a major help when we had James. It really helped that I didn’t have to worry about Herbie (our dog) while I was at the hospital.
Tip #3: Don’t Feel Guilty
I mean this! Don’t feel guilty about looking like a hot mess or that people are having to help you out for a little while. Don’t feel guilty if you randomly start crying in front of all of the NICU staff. Having a baby in the NICU isn’t easy. It is hard on everyone that is involved. Keep your head up and don’t let guilt bring you down.
Tip #4: Set Boundaries and Speak Up
Family and friends are going to flock to you like never before. They will all want to help out and be there for support, but it is ok if there are times when you need space. If you want someone to leave that is over staying their welcome, don’t feel bad about telling them to leave. This might also sometimes apply to the staff. We had amazing nurses and doctors, but there were times where I just wanted to hold my baby without someone looking over my shoulder. It is ok to speak up and tell people that you need some alone time with your new baby.
Tip #5: Have Faith and Lean on Your Partner
Most importantly, through all of the NICU experience, my husband and I held onto our faith! We ultimately knew that God had a plan for James through all of it. We leaned on each other and worked together to get through such a difficult time.
*This post contains my own personal opinions. These were tips that helped me during my son’s NICU stay. Other NICU parents may have different experiences.