On the 11th day of Christmas, the NICU gave to me: 11 silver linings, 10 specialists a-knocking, 9 dads kangaroo-ing, 8 moms a – pumping, 7 monitors chiming, 6 nurses charting, 5 needle sticks, 4 brain surgeries, 3 minute scrubs, 2 blood transfusions, and a micro preemie in an isolette.
The thing about the nicu is that it makes you appreciate things you wouldn’t normally think of as a new parent. Things that most parents probably take for granted. Here are my top 11 silver linings.
11. The fact that there is a special team in the operating room just for your baby. This means they have a fighting chance.
10. You will congratulate every pregnant person you meet on reaching term (37 weeks).
9. Being in the nicu gives you 24/7 access to medical advice.
8. Hearing your baby cry. Babies on ventilators cannot cry.
7. Cares. This is the time of each day when you can interact with your baby. Every three or four hours, the nurses will open the isolette and you can take your baby’s temperature, change the diaper, and see her without the thick plexiglass between you.
6. Farts. Getting excess air out of the intestines means its easier for your preemie to breathe.
5. Getting to see (not touch) your baby. After a quick kiss in the operating room, I had to wait several hours to see her again. I’ve heard of other moms who had to stay in the ICU for several days, unable to go to the nicu.
4. Taking care of your baby. Changing diapers, taking temperatures, arranging the baby back in their Snugli. The nurses will have to show you how to handle all of the equipment.
3. Getting to hold your baby. Sometimes it takes hours, days, weeks, it even months until they are stable enough to be touched.
2. Getting to leave the hospital as a new mom, even though you can’t bring your baby with you. Preeclampsia/eclampsia is one of the biggest killers of new moms.
1. Getting to take your baby home from the hospital, no matter how long it takes for you to leave. You’ve watched countless other parents take their (giant) newborns home, and now it’s finally your turn. You’re waiting for the nurses to come get you and say they made a mistake. You don’t really believe it until you are home.