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The NICU makes you strong.
I whole heart-idly believe that experiencing your children’s first days, weeks and even months of life in the NICU makes you the strongest kind of person. There is no way to prepare yourself for the feelings that wash over your body constantly during their stay.
I knew I was going to have premature babies. I knew for four weeks before the doctors cut them out of me that I would have babies that need the assistance and care of the NICU. And I still wasn’t mentally prepared for any of it.
The first time I lost it was when my doctor did her rounds and she said I might be going home the next day. Panic sunk in. I could feel my heart fall into my ass and the lumps of brick in my chest. My babies were there. My babies were going to be there for a while. I CAN’T leave.
Ugh just thinking about it all over again is making me emotional.
It was about 7pm and my husband hadn’t made it to the hospital for the night yet. And I was a mess. I was bawling and my BP sky rocketed. And because I was still on watch for pre-eclampsia symptoms, it was also time to check my vitals. My BP was so high that I was put back on protocol like I was when I was first admitted to the hospital. But this time it was worse.
It was worse because I was in momma mode. Protocol meant I couldn’t get out of bed. And since my babies were in the NICU, it meant I couldn’t go see them until the meds they were pumping into me dropped my BP back into the safe range. I was hysterical. The nurses couldn’t calm me down, and neither could Chris when he got there.
I just wanted my babies.
My nurse ended up giving me some sort of anti anxiety medication to help me calm down, but it still took hours. Finally, around 3AM my blood pressure was stable enough for me to be wheeled in to see my babies. I could only hold them for fifteen minutes, but that fifteen minutes was everything I needed to remain calm.
That same cycle happened the next couple nights. I would get very anxious in the evenings that I didn’t have my babies and then end up back on protocol and start the cycle all over again.
After a few days of the same cycle, my doctor decided to put me on blood pressure meds and send me home. I was emotionally okay that day. I got up and saw the twins, ate some breakfast, showered and got my things together to leave the L&D for good. All was okay until it was actually time to leave for the night.
Since I had been in the hospital for over a month at that point, my husband and I decided it would be best for me to go home at night to rest in my own bed, and then spend the days with the twins. But going home that first night was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done.
It did get easier, though. My twins were only in the NICU for a little over a week after I was discharged from the hospital and once it was time to bring them home, my husband and I were more nervous than before!
During the two weeks the twins were in the NICU, the following were the things that we found most essential for life in the NICU.
10 Things you Must Pack for the NICU
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Snacks were at the top of my list for NICU packing! You need to keep your energy levels up to keep up with your newborns, and you need to keep your body nourished to produce that liquid gold! I loved these fig bars. They were perfect for snacking and I really think they helped up my milk for the twins!
Newborns sleep A LOT. Bring stuff to do while you listen to them snooze. I watched Shameless, paid bills, and played Facebook games.
You’ll be surprised how much information everyone throws at you all day long in the NICU. And you won’t remember any of it. My little notebook was a lifesaver! It is the only reason I remembered to find a pediatrician for the twins!
Between pumping and skin to skin (and trying to nurse) you are going to want a comfy nursing bra. I recommend that you just wear it all the time. Changing bras all day is unnecessary work for a newborn momma.
Odds are that your bab(ies) room is going to be wicked warm. And then throw in your fluctuating hormones? You are going to be a hot mess. Literally. I would wear a tank top under my sweater and constantly go between taking the sweater on and off. Sometimes I would even just be topless in their room because I was sweating that much.
Just like layers to take off, you are going to want some to get warm! I liked having a nice warm blanket from home to cuddle up with and nap during the early mornings that I was in the NICU. Especially when I got skin to skin time and could cuddle the babies!
You gotta make yourself at home in the NICU. My first step with this was slippers. I wore my Vans into the NICU, but once in the twins room I would toss them off and slide into some slippers! The NICU is a judge free zone. I wore all comfy attire just like I would at home with the babies.
If your babies are in the NICU, odds are you are pumping. Make sure to pack in your pumping bag each day! Check out my pumping essentials post for what I keep with me at all times for a great pumping experience.
(Don’t Bring) Scents
This one is something NOT to bring. Premature babies are very vulnerable. This means that just the smell of a strong scented body wash could cause trouble with their little bodies after some skin to skin. I had a hard time not wearing any of my pretty scents from Bath and Body Works, but I did what I needed to for my babies. Now they are almost four months old and I still rarely use scented lotions or body sprays. I just feel weird about them shoving their face into my chest if it were saturated in Winter Wonderland.
(Don’t Bring) GERMS
And the last something (not) to bring to the NICU- GERRRRRMS. For the sake of your bab(ies) and others, stay home if you have even been around someone who was sick. Their little bodies cannot handle those kinds of germs right now. They could get REALLY sick REALLY quick. Keep everyone healthy and stay home if you need to.
Have you already experienced the NICU? Or know someone who has?
What was on the necessity list for you or them during their stay in the NICU? What really helped with coping or making the time go by?
Go ahead and share below for the rest of the readers! But most importantly, hang in there. It does get easier.
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