Congratulations! You have finally made it to NICU graduation day. No matter how long or short your stay in the NICU has been, graduation day is a BIG deal. One to celebrate - and one to fear.
I remember the week leading up to my son’s graduation so clearly. Each day I would walk in with my heart in my throat, convinced the nurse would tell me he had a brady and the release date clock had been reset. (At my NICU at least, babies had to be brady free for 5-days before they were released). Then, as release day came, I was overcome with paralyzing fear as I realized I would be taking Sam home, and would no longer have nurses, doctors, monitors, etc. to help me and help keep Sam alive.
That is not to say I was not overjoyed to bring Sam home. Just being able to eat and hold Sam at the same time was not a luxury I knew I was missing until we were home.
Here are just a few things I wish I had thought of before our big graduation day:
STOCK UP ON MEALS
So, you are home. You have a new baby. Its a global pandemic (this applies even if it wasn’t). The last thing you want to do is worry about food. Have easy to cook - and easy to eat food on hand. The more “handheld” the better. Remember, you can finally eat AND hold your baby at the same time. Last thing you want to do is spill soup on a new baby.
DON’T FORGET FEEDING SUPPLIES FOR THE BABY
It is highly likely that your preemie will be needing formula in addition to breastmilk (if you and your baby are able). Make sure you know what formula the hospital has been using. See if they have samples for you to take with you. Be clear on the bottle and nipple size that is best for your little one. Ask to take some of the bottles and nipples the NICU has been using.
A PLACE TO WEIGH YOUR BABY
Making sure your baby is gaining weight appropriately is really important. If you have the means to have a baby scale at home, great. If not, do some research and see where locally you can weigh your baby. I had a baby store near me that I could go to as often as I wanted to check Sam’s weight gain.
BREATHING SENSOR MAT
I would have killed for one of these when I brought Sam home. The technology has come a long way as have the prices. Again, if this is within your means, having something to help you monitor your baby’s breathing is huge. Especially for those of you who spent months in the NICU staring at monitors.
I know. We are all sick of sanitizer. However, your preemie needs you to keep it up. I ordered a bunch of the sanitizer the hospital used (Avagard D) and left bottles at the front door and in every bathroom.
This was a hard one for me. People had been so helpful and supportive while we were in the NICU, that saying yes to more offers of help was hard for me. But do it. Whatever is offered, say yes. Someone wants to do a run for diapers for you - say yes. A friend wants to drop off a meal- say yes. Someone offers to take your other child (assuming you have one) on a playdate or sleepover - say yes. You get the idea. You need the help. You are not proving anything by trying to do it alone. Besides, people love you and want to support you - let them.