There are so many things that can make your NICU stay, as I always said, suck a little less. I randomly think of these things so I decided to start writing them down when they come to mind...if you're in the NICU, I hope these help and feel free to add...there's never enough advice to make it...suck a little less!
communicate with your nurses
One of the very first things that happened...within the first 48 hours, was me breaking down (for the millionth time) because the nurse fed my kid without me. His first feeding. She had told me that she would be doing his 'cares' (when they take temperatures, change diapers and bedding, turn the baby if needed and feed). and feed him at 330pm. I would be there FOR SURE. So I tried to take a little nap, which is basically impossible when you're still in the hospital. I woke up at 3 so that I could pump to feed him, get somewhat refreshed and walk over to feed him FOR THE FIRST TIME. It was literally the first time he would ever have had milk. When I walked into his room, the nurse was just shutting the little arm doors you use to reach in the incubator. I looked at her and smiled...she then said, he did great, told me his temp, diaper had been changed and the milk I had brought earlier was in the feeding tube.
WHAT. THE. HECK. I was furious...and deflated... completely and utterly destroyed. Why did she do that when she told me she'd feed him at 330? It was friggin 330 right now! Well, I learned the hard way that 'cares' began 30 minutes before they feed the baby. To this day I have no idea why she didn't tell me that. I would have been there. It was so important to me to get to do his first feeding and that was taken from me...because we didn't communicate. And for the longest time I did NOT like that nurse... I grew to like her and she became a favorite. What I learned from that, always ask questions. It's hard to know what to ask when you first get to the NICU, but ASK!! make sure you know when they will start 'cares' if you want to be there. Even if it seems stupid, ask anyway. You don't want to miss out on the big moments. I also missed him being extubated...because I didn't know to tell them I'd want to be there for that. I missed him being moved from an incubator to a new crib, because I didn't tell the nurse I wanted to be there. Those little things you assume a nurse will tell you, they probably won't becuase they're just doing their jobs and sometimes don't remember thatmom would probably want to be there...even for the tiniest things.
Sleep with some blankets
Someone told us that we should sleep with our baby's blankets. That way they'd smell like us, our house, our lives at home. They'd then make up his little bed with them, use them to support him and he'd be able to smell our little family even though he wasn't at home. I did this literally every single night. I had so many blankets! Id sleep with the ones he used that day so that I could feel close to him too. It sounds weird, but it's awesome. And a small thing to do to make it, you know.
I wasn't ever a scrapbooker. I thought it sounded old and boring. And I wasn't very crafty. The second or third day we were there, a child life specialists dropped by and told me about their scrapbooking day. I was invited to leave my baby and go cut paper. Ummmm no thanks. Leaving his bed was the LAST thing on my mind and I definitely wasn't going to leave to cut out some shapes and pretty circles.
Well a few weeks and about a thousand photos later, I didn't know what to do with them...ya you guessed it, I took up scrapbooking. It was actually really fun and a great time waster when I wasn't able to hold my son. During the 3 or 4 hours he needed alone to rest and grow, I'd make a scrapbooking scene by his bedside. It was fun and turned out a lot better than I'd imagined. I am SO glad that I did it. It is probably about 8 inches thick and FULL of great pictures and memories I may have otherwise forgotten if I had tried to do it later. I was able to keep a tiny micropreemie diaper, leads, tubes, wires...all of it! It is really a great thing I have to look back on now. I'm glad I did it.
More to come later when they pop in my mind!