Tips for Surviving a Stay in the NICU

Baby on couch next to picture of when he was in the NICU.

Tips for Surviving a Stay in the NICU

No one gets pregnant and imagines they will start their child’s life out in the NICU, but it happens to even the best of people. And whether the stay is due to a known condition or due to something that surprises the doctors at birth, it’s never easy on parents. It’s a rollercoaster full of emotion and stress until their child gets to go home.

So today, I wanted to let a few parents who have made it to the other side—Jason, Ryane, Julie, Megan and Hannah—give future or current parents who are in the NICU their best insight and advice for dealing with a stay successfully. They all have happy and healthy children. So before anything else, be encouraged!

How would you describe your experience in the NICU?

“Fear is your ever-present friend when your child is in the NICU. Every time you walk through the doors you are scared that something will have gone wrong in the brief time you have left your child. You have to give yourself over to the experience. The dye has been cast . . . you have to give your life and the life of your child over to God. Whomever you view as the higher power is ultimately the one in control.” –Jason

“I felt panic. Each day could take us a couple of steps forward or many, many steps backwards. It was a game of not knowing what the next second ahead of us looked like. I felt frustration. Though the world of medicine has made incredible advancements in realm of coronary heart diseases in the last 30 years, there is still so much unknown. I felt sadness. Being thrown into the world of sick kids was like nothing I have ever experienced. I felt hope. Or rather, I learned hope. Real hope. I learned that even if the very very worst happened, I was not alone, Christ was carrying me every single step of the way. That’s not said in a cliche Christian way. It was undoubtedly my reality for so many months and continues to carry me on days when those fears of Judson’s future creep back in.” –Hannah

What is one thing you didn’t expect?

“One of the hardest things about having a baby in the NICU is leaving; the day that I had to get into a car and be driven away from my tiny baby, that was fighting for her life, absolutely tore me apart. The only thing that comforted me was knowing how amazing the staff was at Women’s Hospital. The nurses truly love those babies.” —Julie

What is your best advice for parents in the NICU?

“My best advice would be to take care of yourself. Take the time to shower, to eat and, most importantly to sleep. Your child is in the NICU. Your child is in the best, most capable hands the medical profession has. It takes a tremendous heart to work in the NICU and every staff member is there because they want your child to thrive . . . [And] throw away your phone. You are not Dr. Google. Trust the neonatologist, they do this everyday. An hour long Google search is no match for medical school and years of experience”. –Jason

“Learn what all the wires, tubes, and alarms mean. It all looks SO scary. But if you know what everything does and what each alarm means it makes it much less scary.” –Julie

“Be your child’s advocate. There are God-given mom-intuitions that sometimes trump that of the doctors.  You know that baby even though you feel like you barely do. He or she is from your womb. Trust your gut.” –Hannah

What is one thing you did to make yourself feel better?

“I read my daughter The Hobbit cover to cover. As I read I did the voice of each character the best I could. A beautiful moment happened between us when Smaug the dragon appeared. She covered her ears almost as if she could feel the menace in his voice, in my voice. I read several other books over the months my daughter was in the NICU, but that moment stands out in my heart.” –Jason

baby chick, NICU

Pump! Pumping milk for Emily was one thing I could control. One thing I could do for her to help her get stronger. I drove an hour each way, twice a day, for 80 days to visit her. I used that time to cry, pray, and pump! I bought a hands-free pumping bra and an adapter for the car so I could plug in my pump.” —Julie

“[Do] kangaroo care! As soon as you are allowed to hold that baby, get your shirt off (and your bra!) and put that baby skin-to-skin. Button down shirts are helpful for this. Also, it’s nice to have a Boppy pillow so your arms don’t get tired (I kept one by her bed). Emily’s heart rate and respiratory rate were always best while she was skin-to-skin. Em had high blood pressure for a couple of days (I was sick and couldn’t visit for 3 days). When I got to her, I held her skin-to-skin for 4 hours straight and her blood pressure stabilized!” –Julie

Were you always strong?

“I very often did not stay in one piece. It was a world I so badly wanted to pretend I didn’t know about, devastating on every level. My heart ached like I had never experienced when we faced many, many set backs in his hospital stays. It often felt like I would crumble under the weight of it all. I literally just went moment by moment and didn’t look much further than that. We are Christ followers and relied very heavily on our faith. But even then, we had to choose so often to believe all we knew about God, that he is faithful and would see us through no matter the outcome. And He did! Let yourself grieve for what you thought life would look like for you and your child. It’s ok and understandable to do that.” –Hannah

Is there any good that came from your experience?

“I always feel very hesitant to say this because it feels almost mean, but the lessons we have learned by just experiencing this kind of level of heartbreak and world-falling-apart have opened our eyes to so many new things. We love deeper, empathize more deeply, have a new and stronger desire to help others in their crisis, and so on. If you had asked me any of that on the midst of the trial, there’s no way I felt that. But on this side of it, those are our feelings.” –Hannah

Any final thoughts?

“Prepare for the long road. It’s a marathon not a sprint.”Megan

“All you can do is be there for your child. All you can do is love them and endure. And you will do it because they are yours. Endure, there are happy endings.” –Jason

Lastly, if you are reading this and know someone in the NICU, here are a few things these parents said were wonderful to receive: 1) calls and texts to check in, 2) gift cards for gas money or food, 3) offers to help give rides to other children, and 4) meals!

baby chick, quin, surviving the NICU, NICU, neonatal intensive care unit

About the Author /

Quinn is a wife, boy mom (x’s 4), blogger at Sanctification and Spitup, host of the Renew You Podcast and licensed marriage and family therapist. She loves to encourage others in relationships through her speaking, writing or podcast episodes.

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We want our kids to be strong, independent, self-reliant, and successful. They learn quickly what they can get away with. Teaching them kindness and a good work ethic from the beginning goes a long way. ❤️⁠ Put the hard work in now and watch them bloom into a strong and independent adult later. 💪
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However you choose to feed your baby, your baby an However you choose to feed your baby, your baby and your opinion are all that matter. If you choose and are able to breastfeed, feed your baby anywhere and everywhere HOWEVER you want to . . . with or without a cover. You have rights, mama. No need to explain or cover yourself for anybody if you don't want to. 💕⁠
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Let’s talk about potty training! It’s one of those monumental milestones we mamas walk through with our toddlers that make them suddenly seem like they went from babies to tiny little humans overnight. And, while it can be an exciting time (and a time to save some serious cash by ditching diapers), it can also come with lots of stress. 🙃 From cleaning up potty accidents for what may seem like days (or even weeks) to wondering if you’ll ever be able to drive further than down the block without having to stop for a potty break 🤦‍♀️, potty training can be daunting.⁠
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But, what many moms agree on is that once it’s done, you kinda forget about all the stress that came along with it. Kinda like pregnancy and giving birth —you just sort of forget about it all until you do it all over again.⁠ 🤪⁠
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Here are five things I wish I had known about potty training before I jumped into it with my then two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Because, if I had known these things, I think I would have been a bit more laid back about the whole thing! {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!⁠}⁠
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Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
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You're My Baby Forever, But My Newborn for Now⁠ You're My Baby Forever, But My Newborn for Now⁠ 💕⁠
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When I had my first baby, everyone told me to enjoy the newborn stage because it goes fast, and I would miss it. But I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I didn’t believe them. 😴 While I was living through it, it felt like it took forever!⁠
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If you are there now or about to enter this stage, it’s a yummy, delicious, snuggly stage. But for me, it has always been one of the harder ones, every time I go through it. So I see and feel you, mama! It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Hold tight, though, because it doesn’t last forever.⁠
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by @chroniclesofdaddy⁠
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I've been asked so many questions by men about fatherhood. So I figured I'd drop some knowledge on my fellow Dads and soon-to-be-Dads. Here's what it looks like for the first few weeks or months after your child is born. Yup. If mom breastfeeds they pretty much are tucked like this and at times you'll wonder "what is there for me to do?" Here are my top 5 tips for any Dad after your child is born.⁠
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1️⃣ For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night, you get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.⁠
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4️⃣ Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger and bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.⁠
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5️⃣ Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a child's life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby it's hard, but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. ⁠
If someone needs this info tag them ❤️⁠
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Potty Training Tips! A step-by-step guide 🚽⁠ Potty Training Tips! A step-by-step guide 🚽⁠
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1️⃣ Look for signs of readiness:⁠
- Diaper dry for at least 1-2 hours.⁠
- Pulling at their diaper when its wet or soiled.⁠
- Hiding or fidgeting when going pee or poo in diaper.⁠
- Interest in others using the potty.⁠
- Waking up with a dry diaper after naps.⁠
- Telling you when they have gone pee or poo.⁠
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Potty training is much quicker if your child is showing the above signs, but you can start before this.⁠
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2️⃣ What you will need to buy:⁠
- Toilet seat insert to place on your toilet⁠
- Steps⁠
- Underwear (at least 10 pairs)⁠
- Foldable toilet seat (for when you are out of the house)⁠
- Piddle pad (for car journeys)⁠
- Waterproof shoes such as crocs, sliders, etc. (they can be rinsed and dried)⁠
- Not necessary but helpful: flushable wipes⁠
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3️⃣ Getting yourself and your child prepared:⁠
- Talk to your child about using the potty, maybe take them into the bathroom when you go and talk them through the process (e.g. wiping, flushing, and washing hands, etc.)⁠
- Practice pulling pants or shorts up and down.⁠
- Look on YouTube with your child at some potty training stories (e.g. 'I Want My Potty' and 'Pirate Pete's Potty')⁠
- Involve your child in choosing and buying everything you need - choosing character-themed underwear is usually very exciting!⁠
- Sit your child on the potty at every diaper change, first thing in the morning and just before bed to get them used to sitting on the toilet.⁠
- Teach your child the correct vocabulary or signs needed to communicate when they need to go potty.⁠
- Make sure you have plenty of spare clothes.⁠
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4️⃣ Let's get toilet trained:⁠
- Get your child to choose a pair of underwear and put them on.⁠
- Talk to them about using the toilet and communicating when they need to pee or poo. You can sit them on the toilet at this point if you wish.⁠
- Take your child to the toilet every 15/20 minutes. Say "let's go to the potty" rather than asking "do you want to go to the toilet" - if you ask, they are likely to say no! Also, look for signs like moving from side-to-side or hiding. These are normal signs that they might need to go potty.⁠
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(Continue reading in the comments!)
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“You are my reason.⁠ ⁠ You are the reason I “You are my reason.⁠
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You are the reason I get up each morning.⁠
Even though my eyelids are as heavy as a five-ton truck.⁠
Even though all I want is to sleep in, a coffee and breakfast in bed.⁠
You are more important.⁠
You need me.⁠
For you, I would do anything.⁠
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You are the reason I am finally comfortable in my own skin.⁠
Even though I am a size bigger than I used to be.⁠
Even though my boobs cannot be described as 'perky'⁠
You relied on my body.⁠
You gave it purpose.⁠
For you, I will always love it.⁠
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You are the reason I now know the importance of patience.⁠
Even though I sometimes miss the fast-paced life.⁠
Even though I still get frustrated when I feel inefficient.⁠
You need me to go at your pace.⁠
You are the priority right now.⁠
For you, I slow down.⁠
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You are the reason I worry more than ever.⁠
Even though I know it won't change anything.⁠
Even though it's not your fault.⁠
You are precious.⁠
You are vulnerable.⁠
For you, I will worry forever.⁠
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You are the reason I am now filled with gratitude.⁠
Even though I get sad when things do not go my way.⁠
Even though I sometimes lose sight of what I have.⁠
You are my constant reminder that I am blessed.⁠
You are the light at the end of every tunnel.⁠
For you, everything is worth it.⁠
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You are the reason that my heart is full.⁠
Even though I am grateful for our life before you.⁠
You have shown me a love like no other.⁠
You are remarkable.⁠
For you, my heart explodes.⁠
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You are my reason." ❤️ Words by @hangingwiththeheaphys 💕⁠
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Have you noticed that your child is complaining of stomach pain and headaches? Or perhaps they seem tired and irritable despite getting the correct amount of sleep? Perhaps these things are simply coincidental, but maybe they’re not. Did you know that even children suffer from anxiety disorder? In fact, the most common mental health condition in children is anxiety disorder. If you are sensing that there may be something else going on, keep reading. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading this mom's personal journey with child anxiety disorder.⁠}⁠
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