My Special Care Nursery Story

NICU Experience

After photographing a few babies this winter who had been in the NICU/Special Care Nursery, I had the idea to start a blog series.  I would love to create a series where parents can share their experiences from the NICU.  My hope is that at least one person who is navigating the NICU experience reads it and finds it helpful to hear about other families’ stories.  I am going to start the series off with a little bit about our experience.

My Special Care Nursery Story

A little bit about my NICU/Special Care Nursery Experience

I was induced 6 weeks early with my first daughter.  Leading up to that, I was hospitalized with HELLP syndrome.  I remember thinking that I really didn’t feel well, but that people said pregnancy was supposed to kinda stink.  I assumed what I was feeling was just normal pregnancy symptoms. When I went for a routine appointment on Halloween (my due date was Dec 28th), I ended up staying for a few nights.  I was put on bedrest at home and had many appointments.  After going home from one of those appointments, I got a call saying I needed to come back in.  They said to pack a bag and plan to be there until the baby was here.  I remember being worried, but not realizing the gravity of how scary the situation really was.  I spent a little over a week on hospitalized bed rest before the doctors decided that I was too sick and needed to be induced.

We spent our first Thanksgiving as parents in the NICU.  We were only able to hold our daughter for 20 minutes at time for feedings (every 4 hours). The hours in between were spent anxiously watching the monitors to make sure she didn’t have apnea spells (as the nurses called them, “forgetting to breathe”) again.  I am so thankful that we had a short stay and she is healthy now, but those very long two weeks will still stay with me forever.  We started our journey into parenthood in a scary way. It felt like we had no control over what happened to her.  I always say that she didn’t feel like she was really ours until she was home.  Those two weeks have made me so appreciative of her being healthy, and also so thankful for my other two babies who I did get to hold after delivery.

Something I wish I had known before hand

While I was on bed rest, all the nurses and doctors kept saying my daughter “would be fine” since it was past 30 weeks.  In my naivety, I took this to mean she would be totally fine and once I delivered things would be “fine”.  When they told me I would be induced the week before Thanksgiving, my husband and I even had a conversation about if we thought we should bring her to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration or just stay home with her.  While I was in labor having Pitocin-induced contractions, the special care doctor came and told me that I my baby would have to be quickly taken up to the NICU and probably wouldn’t leave the hospital until after my due date.

I wish someone had really talked to me before hand about what was happening and what would happen next.  During contractions is a horrible time to find out that you won’t be able to cuddle with your baby after delivery and that your baby and husband will be leaving the room to go to the nursery right after you deliver.  A big part of my desire to start this blog series is to have more information out there for moms who may need to experience the NICU/Special Care Nursery.  I remember my husband and I feeling very alone in the situation. I want other parents to be able to read stories from former NICU/ Special Care Nursery parents and know they are not alone.

Some advice for parents experiencing the NICU/Special Care Nursery

Everyone’s experience is so different in the NICU, so it’s difficult to give advice.  But, what I would say is to take care of yourself.  I was coming off of being very sick myself, yet I wanted to spend every moment by my daughter’s side.  I remember a nurse telling me that I didn’t look well and to go home to rest.  I almost had a breakdown leaving.  My husband and I ended up taking “shifts” for some of the early/late feeds.  He would stay for a late-night feed and I would go early for the morning one and then we would both be there during the day.  This at least gave each of us a little break, but we felt more comfortable that at least one of us was there for the feedings.

Newborn Photo Shoot | Sara Sniderman Photography | Newton, MA

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