How do you survive the NICU?

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Answered by: Mary, An Expert in the Life with a Premature Baby Category
Birth plans are always elegant. You are in Labor and Delivery, listening to your favorite music. You practice the breathing from the labor classes, and you know what to expect. You are an active participant in bringing your child into the world. Unfortunately, not all mothers get to experience the birth that they had planned. Premature babies come at the oddest times, and you do not have the ability to plan.

After labor, it can be worse. If you are lucky enough to be conscious, then you may get to see your child for a few moments. If you are not conscious, then you may not get to see your child for hours. NICU nurses are admitting them to that special wing, allowing them to be prepared for their stay. It is a necessary evil, but you need to be prepared for it. My child was born at 31 weeks, and they completely put me under for it. I didn't see anything but a picture of my child. You can survive the NICU. The NICU is temporary. I survived, and my child is four. It seems like a distant dream now.

You can survive the NICU. If you know what to expect, then you will be able to handle it. You need to wash for five minutes from elbow to finger tip, every time. Then you put on protective gear. Some babies are in incubators to regulate temperature, some babies are not. .You wear the gear to protect them from the outside world. You can stay with your child as long as you wish to stay. They make it as comfortable as they can. The machines can feel daunting, and the nurses explain everything you need to know for your child. The nurses were my saving grace. I wanted to know everything I could. Information made me feel better.

Life with a premature baby is not easy at first. There are new things to learn, and the feeding schedule can be overwhelming. The hospital feeds them every one and a half hours. So once you take them home, you must slowly wean them off that schedule. I was so exhausted the first month, but I felt proud that I helped her to reach a four hour feeding schedule. You must let go off your expectations. I wanted to breastfeed, but maybe because she was early or my body wasn't ready, I couldn't. I had to let go off that and feed her formula.

You can make the most of the experience. Rejoice in their milestones, and remember where they started. My daughter is now four, and taller than everyone in her class. She is super smart and has no health issues. Not everyone is as lucky as me, but you can stay on top of your child's progress. Sometimes, babies just come early. It can be a life altering experience. Enjoy it, be patient, and love your child. He or she will be home with you in no time, and they will be grown in no time.

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