The main piece of advice I can give any new mom is to trust your instincts! If you feel something is not quite right during your pregnancy or when your baby is born, speak up. You are the biggest advocate for yourself and your child, and you are the only one who can make decisions that are best for your life.
The NICU can be very overwhelming. You can feel super helpless sitting next to an intubation bassinet, knowing there is nothing you could have done or could have done to prevent your child from being in this situation. But rest assured, they are in the best place they can be. They are being watched around the clock and taken great care of. And your child knows you are there. Babies can recognize sounds at 18 weeks in the womb, so there’s no question they will recognize your voice when you talk to them now! Read them stories, tell them about the outside world, describe their nursery set up at home to them, and talk about relatives and friends that are looking forward to meeting them.
Always ask questions. And never be afraid to call the NICU for a check-up - even in the middle of the night! It can be daunting having to pump every few hours at home after discharge when you always envisioned you’d be nursing your newborn in the middle of the night instead - it feels surreal and unnatural. Throughout your pregnancy, you are prepared for what happens when you bring your baby home. But no one prepares you for coming home empty-handed and having to leave your baby behind. It feels lonely, overwhelming, and can be quite traumatic. Never hesitate to reach out to the nursing staff in the NICU, and to find other moms and families going through similar situations that you can talk to.
I was diagnosed with preeclampsia with severe features (elevated blood pressure, spotty vision, headaches) around 31-weeks. My doctors advised me that it would not be safe for me or the baby to continue past 34 weeks and that I needed to be admitted to the hospital and closely monitored until then. So, I delivered my daughter Vivienne on April 22 via a planned C-section. She was 6 pounds, 18 inches long! She needed a little help breathing, so she was put on ventilation machines and given a feeding tube to make sure she was gaining weight appropriately. I was able to pump while in the hospital and when I was home after discharge, so she was able to drink breast milk and supplement with formula when needed. She was a quick learner, did very well with tests and had normal levels, and was discharged after 11 days in the NICU. The nurses and staff there were incredible, and I am forever grateful for their guidance, knowledge, and emotional support through what was the most traumatic experience of my life. Vivienne is now 4 months old, 14 pounds, 24” long, and just started rolling over! We love her so much and know she came to us as a blessing from God.
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