I believe in the power of modern day medicine and I believe that the hours of training and hands on experience results in fantastic medical staff. However, as a parent I am just that, the parent. It is my job to ask questions and make sure that my baby is getting the care she needs. I was never afraid to ask a question (the nurses swear they loved me but I'm not sure) I needed to and had the right to know the answer.
2.) Don't be too assertive.
This one is a little contradictory to my first statement right? Is it good to ask questions and be assertive- absolutely. But being overly assertive isn't always the best option. I know a bit about medicine (I'm a health educator and my Dads a physician aka I grew up in a hospital) but I am not a medical professional! The night my daughter was delivered I was in the NICU learning which cords I could take off of her and how to weigh her diapers to see how much she discharged. I felt that was my job- she was my daughter I was her mom and wherever she was I needed to be doing everything for her. I was literally in the NICU for 18 hours a day- only going home to sleep. I never missed a feeding during the day and I wanted to do everything myself- including the feeding tube. The problem? I was so convinced I needed to do everything that the nurses assumed I knew how to do everything. I got a different kind of care than the moms who were afraid of the tubes and machines. My point is, yes you are the mom but if you are doing everything then you stop getting asked if you need help. The result: I didn't get as much one on one attention. Specifically about breast feeding. I ended up pumping for the next 12 months because I didn't learn how to breast feed a premie in the NICU.
3.) Be kind to everyone. This seems silly to put up but seriously be kind. The nurses and doctors are wonderful but are also overworked and stressed out. Same goes for the parents that are in there with you. I made an effort to stop and pick up some goodies to share with everyone when I came in the morning. It was a small gesture but my little girl was in their hands, it was the least I could do. The NICU is a stressful place and no one wants to be there- if you come in with a smile everyone warms up a little.
4.) Snuggle. Snuggle. Snuggle. If you can't snuggle, talk, talk, talk. Your little one knows your voice and longs to hear it. There's a ton of research that suggests kangaroo care (skin to skin) or talking to your baby while they are wired up does some serious good for them and you. It helps develop the bond that you would be developing if you were at home. I know it isn't home but make the best of it.
5.) Don't make it a competition. Sounds silly right? Well guess what? I am the queen of competition and I was putting my kid in competition in the NICU. It is wrong and it awful and I hate to admit it but when I would ask other parents about their little ones I would be thinking "Well surely my kid will be out sooner because she was born at a later gestational date." Or "My daughter is bigger than them so I'm sure she will be here for only a day or two." It was ugly but I was desperate. I wanted all those babies to do well (and as far as I know all of them did) but I wanted mine to be home with me, the way I had pictured it. As it turns out rationalizing your daughters progress and comparing it to others does no good. In fact it only makes you feel pathetic and in retrospect like a really bad person. So seriously don't make it a competition. When they are ready to go home they will let you know!
6.) This one might be the hardest. Don't rush your stay. I wanted nothing more than to have my daughter home and healthy. Every day that passed my husband asked me what I estimated the bills were adding up to (side note: a lot). I get it, no one wants to be in the NICU. However, at that moment that is literally the best place for your sick little one. Let medicine and professionals take care of your peanut and in due time they will be ready to come home. I promise.