Once upon a time, if I had an ache or pain that I felt needed attention from a pain reliever, I thought Tylenol (acetaminophen) was a great option. Of course, with things like menstrual cramps I never relied just on Tylenol and usually went right for some form of ibuprophen instead. But for lesser ailments, my view of Tylenol was that it was the “lesser evil” and a safer choice, especially in situations like pregnancy.
A stay in the NICU is a very hard phase to live through – for both the family and the baby. Many NICUs are not as family friendly as they like to think they are, and amenities and comforts for parents are often overlooked. Of course the main goal is to provide the babies with child-centered care, which is a good thing, but there can be a lot lacking for the families hanging in the balance – clinging to threads of hope for their babies.
Our youngest son, Jotham, was born with Spina Bifida. He was full-term, but was in the NICU for twenty-nine days due to complications from hydrocephalus. I walked into the NICU thirty minutes after giving birth to him, and didn’t walk outside again until he was leaving in my arms. Twenty-nine days straight was a long time in a very hard place, and yet I met other parents that had been there for much, much longer.
Some NICUs put multiple babies in one room with privacy curtains to pull between bassinets. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for a parent to be near their baby, and often the facilities like this don’t allow parents to stay overnight. If a family is fortunate enough to be in a facility with private rooms, there is usually a pull-out couch or recliner for staying overnight, although bathroom facilities are generally lacking since the patients don’t need a toilet. We were thankful to have a private room with a couch to sleep on, enabling me to stay with Jotham for his whole NICU stay.
We learned many things during Jotham’s NICU stay, not the least of which was how much we’re loved! Our friends and family bent over backwards for us. Without them, we never would have made it through with much sanity left (we’ve needed the remaining sanity for the all the PICU stays we’ve been subjected to since ?).
Here’s a list of five things that were helpful to us during our time in the NICU. If you think of more ideas, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post!