Tuesday, January 3, 2012

After days, weeks, or months in the NICU there is nothing more exciting or wonderful than hearing you get to bring your baby home.

For me, discharge day was filled with emotion. Excitement and pure joy at the idea that my baby was finally healthy enough to come home and never leave my side. Anxiety of "what ifs" that any first time parent feels compounded with the "what ifs" that come after months of watching your baby struggle to breathe, eat, poop, and grow. Sadness saying goodbye to the doctors and especially the nurses who cared for my baby and for me for three months. And finally the humility that comes with the knowledge that I was given the greatest gift in the world and for the first time, she would be entirely my responsibility.

Congrats on making it close enough to bringing your baby home to feel like you can read this entry! Below are many other NICU mom's perspectives on the, the emotions that went with homecoming, the first days at home, and what people did to help make it better.

What was homecoming like emotionally?

  • "Overwhelming and relieving all at once."
  • "Overwhelming and exiting and happiness."
  • "I felt this huge sense of relief when they came home. Relief that they were healthy, relief that after everything I went through and they went through that I still had 2 babies to mother. I felt torn when we left Jack in NICU and it was really hard for me for those 2 weeks. I felt like I was bonding so much with Ian and not much with Jack because Ian was with me all the time. I hated having them separated. But they don't seem to notice it now, they love being together :) I was also elated not to have to go back to the hospital EVER AGAIN after Jack left."
  • "It is a tough emotional experience. At times it was scary because we weren't sure if our son would handle his new environment or experiences well. (What if he was allergic to a cleaner I'd used or dust that I'd missed when cleaning? Is he going to be upset by being alone in his new room? What if he stops breathing and we can't revive him? etc.) At times it was empowering. (We decided to keep an ins/outs log on a white board in the kitchen to help us track his eating and excreting habits.) At times it was frustrating. (Other people did not always remember to remove their shoes or Purell when they came in.) It was fun at times, too! (Watching our son interact with his new environment and get to know us better has been so exciting!) Overall, it has been rewarding."
  • "It was strange - I was nervous and excited but the biggest part for me was actually leaving the hospital - being "wheeled" out. I had trouble with missing that part of a "normal" birth experience. Of course every time I got into the elevator leaving the hospital a mom would be in there in her wheelchair holding her baby with a million balloons and a cart full of flowers with a bunch of family - I left with a pillow and a breast pump. When they wheeled DD out in her bassinet to our car I was beaming - we didn't have all that fan fare but for me they might as well have been a band and a confetti shower!"

What were the first few days at home like?

  • "With DS the first day was almost what I would except bringing a baby home (minus the O2 and the beeping monitor.) Plus he had us worried because he wasn't really interested in eating when he first came home, luckily that was short lived. The following days were chaotic, because we were constantly running to the NICU for DD and trying to balance DS's needs. Once we brought DD home, to be honest it was so peaceful. We were able to get into a good routine and DD settled in so nicely."
  • "Excting - a little scary. He was alternating nursing a bottle feeds it was overwhelming feeding and pumping at night. He slept alot and was pretty much 3 hour scheduled from the NICU and I was waking him to feed every 3 hours"
  • "When Ian came home, it was rough. He wanted to sleep all the time, so we had to wake him up every 2-3 hours to eat. Plus, we had to find the time to go and visit Jack because we didn't want to neglect him. It was definitely an adjustment, since Ian didn't like sleeping in the relative silence of home, but it wasn't too terribly bad. When Jack finally came home, it got harder. We'd gotten used to the relative ease of one baby and it was an adjustment learning how to take care of 2 at a time. But since they didn't have any lingering problems from NICU that we needed to take into consideration, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I would venture to say (though I don't know for sure) that it was much like taking twins home from the hospital without NICU time."
  • "The first few days were a big learning curve for all of us. I didn't realize just how quickly the baby would catch a chill in a 90 degree room, so our first afternoon was not terribly comfortable for him. I learned to keep a cotton hat on his head and an extra onesie on his body at all times. The first night with the monitor was really sleepless, since both my husband and I overreacted to every beep (now one of us gets up calmly to check on the baby's color and breathing), and we had the audio baby monitor on so we could hear all his noises--which were a lot more than we expected.
  • "surreal - it was so strange to all of a sudden not have monitors or nurses or doctors around. I was soooo scared. I must of checked her breathing a hundred times a day. I thought I knew how to care for her completely having spent 4 months in the NICU - but that first bath alone, first time I had to suction her nose etc. was so scary."
  • "Once we were home we stuck to the every 3hr diaper change and bottle feeding routine that he was already in since the NICU. The most difficult part was not having all the monitors on him like he did in the NICU."

What helped in those early days?

  • "Honestly the thing that helped the most in the early days was SPACE. Time for us as a family to get used to having one and then two babies at home, and time for them to adjust without being overwhelmed. And our home health nurse that was there within a day or two of their discharge was such a God-send."
  • "Family cooking and cleaning for me."
  • "The first few weeks, we were staying with DH's grandparents. It was such a help to have someone else cook and clean and teach me how to take care of the boys. Plus, I was recovering for my c-section, so they were a godsend as far as recovery goes. Most of my family and friends were no where to be found, but having a supportive DH was the greatest thing in the world."
  • "Both my husband and I had the week off of work, so we could take turns with baby duty and sleep. The following week, my husband had to work, so my mom came to stay for a week and help me. We had some frozen meals ready to cook in the freezer from when I was on bed rest and while baby was in the NICU, so we didn't have to expend time or energy on cooking. And I framed my mindset that we had to take care of basic needs first: baby eats, gets changed, and sleeps; parents eat, use the bathroom, sleep, and shower; and then all the housekeeping and such. We had proactively told family and friends that visitors would not be welcome in the baby's first month home. (We did wind up inviting a few people, but they understood it was because we asked them to come, not because they asked us if they could.)"
  • "Family and friends brought food to freeze while she was still in the NICU - That was a lifesaver. I didn't have time to cook. I also have a very good friend who is a NICU nurse who came over all the time."


Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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