A – Z of NICU!

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A – Amazing: All premature babies are quite amazing, as are their parents and the staff who care for them 24/7.b

B – Breast Feeding: Establishing breast feeding in the neonatal environment can be tough; but putting a baby born too soon to the breast is also a big moment for many NICU mums who wait days or weeks for the opportunity.

C – Corrected Age: A baby’s age calculated according to their due date rather than their birth date, the date at which milestones and weight should be measured against.d

D – Dates: Birth date, due date, leaving hospital date – dates can be significant for parents of children born prematurely. A birthday will always signify the day your baby arrived early and the lead up to celebrations can be a reflective time for parents.

E – Expressing:  The three hourly cycle of pumping to produce breast milk for your baby in neonatal care.f

F – Family & Friends: There to help and support you, but friends and family may feel helpless or left out. Ask them to help with practical things, such as buying micro-nappies, cooking a meal or helping with childcare. Take advantage of offers of help, but allow time for yourself.

G – Going Home: Sadly not all babies leave hospital, with some born too small or poorly to survive. They are always remembered.  For parents who do bring their babies home from NICU we know they face a host of mixed and often conflicting emotions…. relief, joy, anxious, scared.h The journey rarely ever ends at dischage.

H – How old is your Baby?  The question every parent of a baby born too soon dreads. “They’re six months… but they were born early…so really they are only 3 months”, you hurriedly explain.

I – Incubator: Your baby’s home, keeping them warm and safe from the outside world. A place where you will find a parent sitting, watching and waiting.

jJ – Jealousy: Suddenly there are heavily pregnant women everywhere you look. Proud fathers carefully carrying car seats are around every corner and your Facebook timeline is seemingly full of mums cuddling their newborns whilst you wait anxiously for your first hold.

K – Kangaroo Care:  The act of skin-to-skin care beneficial for both baby and mother.

l'L – Loss: Loss of pregnancy; that final trimester, the lost time to prepare. Loss of that first hold or touch as your baby is taken away to NICU. Loss of a baby to take home, the emptiness that fills you as you leave hospital without them. Lost maternity leave as the weeks are spent beside an incubator. And the loss of a child, for the babies born too soon or too small, who do not come home from NICU.

M – Milk: Those first ‘golden drops’ proudly presented to the NICU nurse in a syringe. Followed by an obsession with numbers – how many mls, how many minutes, how many hours between feeds and expresses.

nN – NICU: An acronym you probably hadn’t heard of before, but now you know every aspect of what the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit means.

O – Overwhelming: Nothing can quite prepare you for parenthood, but for parents of premature babies the planning and expectation of a new arrival is dramatically interrupted. You are thrown into a world of micro-nappies, beeping machines, breathing tubes, feeding tubes, expressing pumps, portholes, picc lines and rigorous hand washing. It is quite simply – overwhelming.

P – Preemie Club: A lifelong membership to a club you would never have wanted to join. Once a preemie parent, always a preemie parent, sharing experiences and feelings only other preemie parents will know.

qQ – Quiet: The neonatal unit is one long continuous wave of sound; bells and buzzers, alarms and machines. Take time outside the unit and outside the hospital to find a quiet space each day.

R – Reason: In 40% of cases there is no known reason for premature labour.

S – SCBU:  Another acronym and a step closer to home. The Special Care Baby Unitt

T – Trauma: The trauma associated with an abrupt end to pregnancy and admission to neonatal intensive care can not be underestimated. Thrown into a medical world of uncertainty and all that it entails has a lasting affect, with many parents desribing symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder after the event.

U – Universal Care: 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely.

V – Ventilation: To give oxygen to your babies lungs, helping them to breath or taking over their breathing completely.w

W – Wires and Lines: The tangle of wires and lines that cover your tiny baby – cardiac monitors, respiratory monitors, breathing tubes, feeding tubes, peripheral, central and umbilical intravenous lines…

X – Xtra Special – Whatever your child goes onto do, it will always be that little bity more special.

Y – You – Look after yourself.

Z – Z zzzzz: “At least you can go home and get a good nights sleep”… one of the worst things to say to a preemie mum!

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2 thoughts on “A – Z of NICU!

  1. Samantha Ross

    Oh my goodness.. I am not the mother of a premie or micro-premie. I began reading your blog after following a link after an article on The Mighty. As I through your A-Z I am thankful that I never experienced this first ( or even 2nd) hand. I am currently raising my grandson who is on the Autism Spectrum. He just turned 6, and is the joy of my life! But I digress… Your Z on the list, I cannot fathom anyone with a heart ever saying that to a parent with a baby in the NICU. Or to anyone with a child in the hospital for any reason. Leaving the hospital without your baby would have to be the worst situation. So many fears to face. What if something happens while away from your child – good or bad – would be #1, I assume. I just can’t imagine what would possess a person to say, “at least you can go home and get some sleep”. I am guessing that sleep would be nearly impossible while you are so consumed by fear of what will happen while you are away.
    Many thanks to you for your blog and allowing a glimpse into your life.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Catriona Ogilvy Post author

      Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for reading our a-z!
      It really is a snap shot of life in NICU.
      Sadly we know from mums who have been through NICU that comments can be insensitive. We did a top ten things not to say to a prem parent and so many people told us about ‘at least you can home and get some sleep’….
      The thing is, despite the torture of leaving your baby and the worry, mums of premature babies don’t sleep because they need to express milk – their little ones are too small or too poorly to feed themselves. Instead of a baby waking you up at night, mums of premature babies will set their alarm clocks to get up to express. Not many people know that!

      Like

      Reply

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