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NICU moms, give me your best tips and tricks for staying sane

  1. MrsSRS

    nectarine / 2987 posts

    My take on the "fine" baby is that every NICU has a cutoff you have to reach before they will release baby no matter how healthy they are. For some it's weight, for others it's gestational age.

    And my 30 weeker is also experiencing no residual preemie symptoms six years later. He has eczema and a less than stellar immune system which might be from that, but there's some genetic precedence in my family so maybe not.

  2. Mrs. Tiger

    blogger / pomegranate / 3044 posts

    My D was born at 32 weeks after my water broke at 30w, had tons of complications and was in and out of the NICU for 4 of his first 5 months. I wrote a lot of blog posts several years ago which you might find either useful or terrifying 😊 At the end of the day I have a wonderful 6yo who continues to amaze us. Hang in there mama, one foot in front if the other, hoping all goes very smoothly for you and your LO!

  3. lilyofthewest

    pear / 1697 posts

    Our fertility trajectories were pretty similar if I recall correctly, I finally got my sticky pregnancy after 4 losses including an ectopic pregnancy and a time out after methotrexate.

    And then I had a marginal previa, a bleed, and ultimately a partial abruption and a 32+1 c-section.

    I kinda felt resigned that of course things were going wrong and would continue to go wrong because that is what happens to my pregnancies.

    I think the NICU time was easier for me in some ways because there's absolutely no question of it being necessary at 32 weeks -- no one just goes home with a 32-weeker on their normal discharge date.

    I spent less time in the NICU than most folks on here seem to have, but, I'm not sure it was really less than typical since I almost never saw more than one or two other families present at any given time in a full 16 bed NICU "pod". I made sure I saw my baby every day -- most days for about 3 hours, but a few days for only a few minutes. I focused on my physical recovery and sleep so I would be able to be more present and capable when he didn't have an expert staff 24/7.

    Freemies are nice for being able to hold your baby, BUT, it can be tricky to get your nipple lined up exactly correctly and then that's OUCH if you don't realize you were misaligned until 10 minutes into a pumping session.

    Because I was pumping around the clock in the winter, I found this sweatshirt to be the best thing EVER. https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FSKQ62M/ While I generally am fine with fridging pump parts for the day or using Medela wipes, I didn't feel comfortable with that while I had a NICU preemie -- so having multiple sets of pump parts was very useful. Particularly useful was having enough parts that I could immediately go to bed after my bedtime pump and still have clean parts for my overnight and too early in the morning pumps without having to wash first. I also pre-set up the pump parts and put everything immediately next to my bed. The less I had to move, the more compliant I was with pumping.

  4. MsMini

    grapefruit / 4056 posts

    @karenbme: So, in our hospital we actually admit automatically for under 36 weeks (so 35 6/7 and below) until they are feeding, gaining and thermoregulating well with stable bilirubin levels. Basically there is a bunch of research that shows that late preterm babies with early discharge are at much higher risk of repeat hospital admissions and failure to thrive. It’s safer and less upheaval overall to keep the baby in NICU until they are meeting those milestones, rather than going home and ending up back. Especially since usually a baby can’t come back into NICU once they have been home due to infection control risk, so they end up on a Pediatric unit with more risk of catching a virus. Does that help?

  5. BUNBUN

    apricot / 430 posts

    @MsMini: Thank you! That makes much more sense to me. I didn't realize they couldn't re-admit to NICU once baby has been home

  6. Pumuckl

    pomegranate / 3601 posts

    @karenbme: how are you holding up?

    My twins were late preterm at 36+2 and while we first thought we would be able to take them home, it turned out just as @MsMini: wrote that they had problems with temp control and jaundice. Luckily we never went home so there was no trouble with being admitted to the NICU. They were only in the hospital for two weeks and then went home. While the days felt stressful at the time, especially since we had 2 at home already, in retrospect it went by really quickly and the NICU nurses and docs were awesome and the time there really helped them grow and get strong.

    What helped me was a seat cushion as the chairs in our NICU were awful. I also liked having my own pump parts as the standard flanges the hospital provided were super uncomfortable for me. Other than that I liked that the nurses put the kids in fitting clothes and not the too big full-term baby clothes. So you can bring some of your own outfits for baby if you wish (although I believe every NICU has their own rules there). Also a phone and a charger were great to pass the time when there was nothing to do. I was also on bedrest in the hospital with preterm labor and I crocheted their baby blankets and little hats, that we used in their newborn photoshoot, then.

  7. bees_knees

    persimmon / 1048 posts

    @karenbme: Thinking of you!

  8. karenbme

    persimmon / 1337 posts

    Hello all, thank you for all the tips/info. Bernadette Cassandra arrived at 12:06am Friday at 35 weeks 0 days, but needed respiratory support at birth so she was taken to NICU immediately. She was only on CPAP for the first morning, but has stayed for monitoring because of an apnea alarm on Saturday morning. She’s big and vigorous, though, and the attending who’s been on since Saturday likes to refer to her as a preterm baby who acts like she’s early term. And said this morning on rounds that “her alarms just aren’t that alarming.” Today we moved to the transitional suite, which is still NICU, but designed for families that will be going home soon, so parents are encouraged to care independently with nurses nearby to help. We could still bounce back to regular NICU but we haven’t had any alarms today, so fingers crossed.

    The biggest thing that’s helping me is being at her bedside, so I’ve been here 18-20 hours a day. Seeing that she’s big and strong and healthy is so reassuring, especially with my history of loss. I haven’t used the Freemie cups yet because my milk just barely came in and when I was getting 5mL at a time it just didn’t make sense. The first night was really tough since she was on a strict every 3 hours feeding protocol and we’ve been putting her on the breast then feeding a bottle then pumping, which took two hours at a time. But thankfully now that she’s ad lib it’s less strict.

  9. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @karenbme: Congratulations, mama! I'm so happy she is healthy and that the doctors are pleased with her progress. I will be praying you are released as soon as possible!

  10. jhd

    coconut / 8078 posts

    @karenbme: congratulations on your baby girl! It sounds like she’s doing great! Fx you get to go home soon!

  11. Mama Bird

    pomegranate / 3127 posts

    Congratulations!!!

  12. lindseykaye

    pear / 1992 posts

    @karenbme: Congratulations!!

  13. LCTBQE

    nectarine / 2461 posts

    Wow, congratulations!!! So glad she's doing well Hope your recovery is going great. Wonderful news

  14. pachamama

    nectarine / 2418 posts

    @karenbme: Yayyyy!! So glad to hear this!! Im tellin ya, those preemie girls often do just fine!! Bernadette, what a sweet name!

  15. skiierchck99

    kiwi / 518 posts

    @karenbme: Really happy to hear ❤️ I’m sure she will continue to get stronger!

  16. karenbme

    persimmon / 1337 posts

    Thanks, ladies! I’m hesitant to post this, because I worry I might jinx it, but it looks like we may be going home tomorrow. 😆 At rounds this morning the pediatrician said if everything stayed the same we would be discharged tomorrow. And we’re more than halfway to that at this point. The only realistic reason I can see that changing at this point is if she isn’t up weight relative to yesterday, but she’s been eating like a champ all day. So fingers crossed. After her next feed we’re also doing a “car seat challenge” which is a discharge requirement for the hospital, where we bring in our car seat and put her in on the monitors for 90 min. to make sure she can tolerate it. But I’m not worried about that since we’ve held her in a reclining position many times and never had a problem.

    @pachamama: Thanks, we picked the name because it means strong/brave like a bear, which we think is just so perfect. We’re calling her Berdie for short (pronounced like birdie) which I also think is the cutest nickname.

  17. Sams Mom

    grapefruit / 4492 posts

    @karenbme: congratulations momma! I'm so glad everything is going well! Here's to going home soon! 😁

  18. LadyDi

    persimmon / 1317 posts

    Congratulations! I love her name!

  19. nwm

    clementine / 824 posts

    @karenbme: ! hope you get to go home today!

  20. karenbme

    persimmon / 1337 posts

    Thanks ladies! We did get to go home yesterday 😃 The practice nursing, bottle, pump grind is still a grind but so much easier in our home than the hospital. DH and I both have found ourselves wishing we could check the monitors just to be sure she’s ok, though.

  21. jhd

    coconut / 8078 posts

    @karenbme: so glad to hear you are home! Yay! It does take some getting used to being without the monitors!

  22. magnolia

    persimmon / 1168 posts

    @karenbme: congrats!!! I love her name. So happy you are home. I remember the feeling of wanting to check the monitors too! It will get easier day by day

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