Welcome to Prematurity Awareness Month... and my book publication month. In honor of these two big events, I have committed myself to writing a new post a week.
So, you are going to be spending some time in the NICU. Your baby is fully taken care of. They have everything they could possibly need. You, on the other hand, are totally unprepared and have been thrown into the deep end. Even if you knew your baby was going to have to spend time in the NICU after being born, my bet is you are a bit out of your element. Here are the X things I suggest you have with you in order to survive the NICU
ITEM 1: A COMFY UNIFORM
Make sure you have clothing you don't mind sitting around in for hours at a time. I lived in yoga pants, loose shirts or oversized button down shits, a sweater (those hospital rooms are usual kept a little cold), and slipper like shoes. Being comfortable is one of the few things you can control in the NICU - so make sure you are. And trust me, there is not a person in there that will care if you have worn the same basic outfit every single day you are there.
The button down shirt is especially helpful for kangaroo care (skin to skin time with your baby). Also, if you happen to be pumping, the button down shirt give you easy access.
ITEM 2: A BREASTFEEDING PILLOW
Even if you are not going to breastfeed, having this type of pillow in the NICU makes those moments when you are holding you precious preemie that much more comfortable. I was lucky enough to have a place near my son's isolette to keep my pillow the entire 95 days we were in the NICU.
ITEM 3: SOMETHING TO DO
I know, you are there to be with your baby and participate in their medical care. And you will do that, but, a lot of the time you will be sitting next to the isolette or crib watching your baby sleep. I read a lot of books while in the NICU. It was great to be there and to have an escape at the same time. I am not saying read a deep, intellectual tome - but a good fun escape from reality can do you wonders. I went through the entire Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books while in the NICU.
ITEM 4: A SMALL INSULATED COOLER
This item has a dual purpose. When you arrive at the start of the day, the cooler allows you to bring some food and drinks with you. Hospital food gets tiresome quickly, and, depending on where your hospital is located, finding other food to eat can be difficult or expensive. At the end of the day, the cooler can be used to transport any milk you may have pumped (if you are pumping) back home to be stored in your freezer.
ITEM 5: SOMEONE WHO GETS IT
Ok - this is not really something you can bring with you, but hopefully something you can find in the NICU. I was lucky enough to meet another preemie mom my 2nd day in the NICU who I clicked with. She was deep in it. She understood what I was going through. She was there everyday until her son was discharged, and then stayed there every day with me virtually. Having that "foxhole" friend helped me get through each and every up and down of the NICU.