Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NICU Survival Skills - Link Up!

It's time to link up with Heather, at
Blonde Undercover Blonde!

Here's Our Story
(for any newbies to my blog..the rest of you, come back another time - I'm sure you've heard this all a bazillion times!)

Meet Luke, living proof that my heart is walking crawling around outside my body.

This was Luke when he was born August 6, almost ten weeks early!

Stats @ birth:
Weight -     3 pounds, 0.3 ounces
Length -     17.5 inches

Time in the NICU:
Luke spent one month in the NICU but was fortunate enough to come home a month earlier than we were originally told.  Poor thing had "Wimpy White Boy" syndrome!  Did you know that white males have earned this name from nurses because they typically have more breathing issues than any other demographic?  My little guy was no exception.  He was intubated for a week (ish), then he was on a C-Pap, then nose cannula (don't judge my spelling, medical community - I still avoid Google...see below).  But once he could breathe on his own, it was pretty much smooth sailing.  He was a big eater from the get go and didn't have any trouble learning to take the bottle.  We of course had little hiccups along the way as I have come to learn is normal with NICU babies so we dealt with things like jaundice (as evidenced below) and threw in a few Bradys just for good measure.  

Coping with the NICUu
Honestly, it really is all a little bit blurry now.  Which is proof that while it is all consuming when your child (your HEART if you will) is actually in the hospital and you don't think you can make it another does pass!  For me, my blurred memory is probably partially because we don't really know why I went in to labor early and partially because I think you just go into survival mode.  It's not like I had complications during my pregnancy and sort of had a heads up that my baby might come early.  It was a little like getting mugged while walking down the Rodeo Drive at noon --- completely caught me off guard.  You can get the story here and here.

As for survival tips:  hmmmm.....I tried not dwell too much on what might happen but instead focused on what was happening and what I could do about it.  And the thing I was lucky enough that I could do, was pump.  And ya'll.....I made it my religion!  HA!  I set timers on my phone to pump every three hours on the dot for exactly 15 minutes and HOLY DAIRY FARM.  We bought a deep freezer for the garage and still have a major stash of milk!

Beyond that, I tried not to get too caught up in the medical jargon, AVOID GOOGLING ANYTHING YOU HEAR IN THE NICU - the doctors and nurses will tell you the basics so go on that.  And trust your gut.  I tried so hard not to rely on the monitors to tell me how he was doing but instead to look at him and see - did his coloring look good?  Was he breathing normal or short breaths?  Did he look cozy or uncomfortable?  Not quite the advanced medical diagnosis but I think it's so important to begin trusting your instincts before you ever even leave the hospital.

Love your little one when you can but remember that you have to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your little one.  One thing I wish I had listened to the nurses about was to take advantage of going to a couple nice dinners with my husband or girlfriends while Luke was still at the hospital.  I kept thinking "Oh, it'll be so much easier when he's home and we aren't driving back and forth all the time".  Well....yes...and no.  He's right there and it's emotionally easier to walk out of his room than walking out of the hospital and leaving him behind.  BUT those nurses are also babysitters!  I did use the last week he was in the hospital to get his room finished, the car seat installed, all those major milestones, but a fun night or two would have done me good!

We had more health issues once he was home (re: breathing issues and the obviously underdeveloped immune system) so we got a little bit of cabin fever.  When that sets in, and you can't be out in public just yet, walk.  We went for walks hours on end just to get out of the house!  Also, let people help - we had a friend of my husband's family who got THEIR church to bring us dinner twice a week for three weeks.  I totally hesitated to accept because after all, I didn't know these people from Joe on the street but it was beyond amazing to get home from the hospital and have a home cooked meal ready to go.  ACCEPT HELP.

Bottom line, trust your gut.  This baby is YOURS.  No matter how many nurses and doctors it takes in the beginning, you are the MAMA and your opinion counts.  When you are upset, talk it over...with your spouse, the nurse, a friend....anyone.  But it does pass.  Things will get easier.  (And, then they'll get hard again...but then they'll get easy again... it's a cycle I'm learning all to well!)

It's so cliche but it really does all pass so quickly.  See? 


I'm always happy to meet other NICU moms or answer questions so feel free to reach out to me!


  1. My first thought was if have some extra time to heal/be ready for Mackenzie and I to be on our own since all our family was in other states. But I quickly forgot that and didn't take advantage since all I wanted to do was be with her. We had one sit down meal at a restaurant and only because it was fathers day. It's so much easier to walk out of their room or your home than the hospital!

  2. The time I had dinner out while she was in NICU, we ended up driving past the hospital to get the restaurant. I was a hot mess!

    So glad you linked up!!

  3. Hi! I agree with you that the hospital stay is blur now, but it is so real when it is happening. My girls stayed in the NICU for less than a month, and were born in July 2011.

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