Tips for NICU Parents

January 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Grief, hospital, NICU, normal?, silver lining | 12 Comments
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This past week I, along with 2 other mothers, spoke to a group of nurses as part of their bereavement training. The nurses all work at Northside, the hospital where we had all 4 of our children.

This is the 3rd time I have been on the parent panel as part of this course.  The purpose of parents speaking is so that we can give feedback about our experiences at the hospital and help the nurses to better understand the needs of the families.  I listened to the other women recount their bittersweet experiences. I spoke about mine.

Along with helping the nurses understand the parent’s perspective, we also spoke about ideas for families with babies in the NICU.  The other 2 mothers had several suggestions that Evan and I had not thought of while Jake was in the NICU.  No one knows ahead of time that they will be a NICU parent.  And, NICU parents do not usually have time to google suggestions for being a parent to a very premature baby.  However, I am going to share this list just in case you or someone you know finds themselves with a child in the NICU.

  1. Take pictures.  Use your phone, a disposable camera or whatever kind of camera is available to you.  I am so thankful that the nurses encouraged us to take pictures.
  2. Video tape.   If it is allowed make video tapes of your baby.  I wish Evan and I had video of Jake.
  3. Pen and journal.  Ask the nurses to write something down about your baby during their shift.
  4. Small stuffed animals.  Carry them around so they pick up your scent.  Place them in your babies’ isolette.
  5. Memory metal.  Use the metal to make a finger or foot print of your baby.
  6. Scrapbook.  The hospital gave us everything that touched Jake’s body.  Evan and I keep all of Jake’s things.  We have been working on a special cabinet to keep it all together but it would be great if we could put together a scrapbook as well.

Some hospitals have organizations to help and support NICU parents.  The group at Northside is called Parents Partnered for Preemies.  Do you have any other ideas to add to this list?

Jake's stuffed animals

Jake’s stuffed animals


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  1. As a grandparent who shared so many of these moments and sat for hours and days in the NICU, I ask that you remember the grandparents.Include them as much as possible and offer copies of photos, videos. They are struggling to comfort their children, to be brave, to keep it together for others. This is their loss too.

  2. Good note and great suggestions. Im so very thankful that a nurse suggested I hold Kayla & Dylan at the same time for a few minutes. Although it was extrememly difficult to get them situationed (due to their wires, tubes and their fragile condition), Im so very thankful we did it. I cherish the one pic I have of holding my twins together. -jenny kernan

  3. It is so incredible that you are sharing your thoughts and experiences with the nurses who will now be able to take that information forward as they help other families heal. You have made countless journeys easier by sharing your pain. You are amazing!

  4. Excellent suggestions. I’m sure many people would be like to have them and will share as well…

  5. My mother is law is 64 and when she was born she was 1lb in weight. The nurses at the hospital in Blackburn said she wouldnt survive, so her mother wrapped a hot water bottle in a sheepskin and she stayed on it ntil she wasa healthy weight to leave hospital. She is what i would call a miracle, and miracles have no price tag.

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