The NICU is hard, and it can be very lonely. NICU and preemie parents are often blindsided by their baby’s early birth and are left trying to make sense of what just happened, decipher all of the information the medical staff are giving them about their baby, and trying to process all of the emotions they are feeling.
No one knows what NICU parents need to hear more than another NICU parent. We asked parents in the Hand to Hold community what they want NICU parents to remember in the moment. Here’s what they had to say.
23 Things NICU and Preemie Parents Need to Remember
1. This is not your fault.
2. It’s okay not to be okay.
3. This is not what you expected, but you will get through it.
4. There will be some bad days. But there will also be some amazing days. They are all a part of your baby’s journey – and yours.
5. Though right now it feels like forever, this time in your life will pass.
6. Although it’s lonely, you are not alone.
7. Take care of yourself and appreciate the small wins.
8. Stay hydrated and and take plenty of breaks.
9. Go outside at least once a day while you’re in the NICU.
10. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can take care of your child/children.
11. Just keep breathing. Take things one day at a time, one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time.
12. Just when you think you have no more strength, you will find some that you never even knew you had.
13. It’s okay to take a day off. There is no shame in giving yourself a break.
14. Know that what you are going through is really hard.
15. Don’t compare your baby to others. Every NICU journey is different.
16. If you’re worried about your mental health, talk to someone. Advocate for yourself and your concerns as well. (See below for how Hand to Hold can help!)
17. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Get some rest. Take care of yourself first while the NICU staff takes care of your little one.
18. Don’t feel guilty about leaving your baby. They are in good hands.
19. Take pictures everyday.
20. Hold your baby often. Skin-to-skin holding is wonderful for both you and your baby.
21. Eat, rest, read a book. Allow time for things that nourish you physically and mentally.
22. You are doing your best!
23. Again, none of this is your fault. And you are not alone.