Riding The NICU Rollercoaster

For many babies, the NICU stay is like a roller coaster ride, with ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks. Of course, the parents are also along for the ride. The bad days can be expecially sad and scary to you as a parent. Some days the highs are very high, but other days the dips can be very low. Your own recovery after birth may take several weeks or longer so try to get as much rest as possible as your baby will need you to be strong for the long journey ahead.

It can be very difficult to watch your baby endure setbacks in their progress. It can be disheartening and depressing knowing that the setback is one more obstacle to overcome before they can join you at home. Setbacks can give you information that makes you worry even more about the babies future. They can force you to come to terms with a disability that might never be cured. Setbacks can make you begin to doubt that your baby will ever be totally healthy. They can even darken over your joyous times much like a black cloud. They can cause you to draw back from your baby, in fear that something terribly awful will happen. They can make you doubt that you should love your baby but then the next day you could hear of amazing news on their progress, this is why it’s called a “Rollercoaster Ride”.

Nearly all premature babies endure setbacks, and most babies have several setbacks during their stay. Most of these setbacks are normal, to be expected, and a part of their growth. The doctors and nurses will help you understand what is happening and why. The best defense against setbacks is education. If you understand that the setback is a normal part of premmie development, they can be less frightening. You will be better prepared to expect the setback to occur – you may feel a little more in control. If you can understand that many setbacks are not life threatening, you can regain some sense of security and safety.

Find a way to balance work, home life and visiting the hospital. Allow yourself to leave your baby’s side when you feel comfortable doing so. Your baby needs you, but it’s also important to have time to yourself, with your partner and with your other children. Also take time to do things you enjoy. These restful breaks will help you find the strength to keep going.

Keep a journal whether it’s an exercise book or an online journal. Expressing your feelings on paper can help you cope and move through them. A journal may also help strengthen your hope and patience, by reminding you how far you and your baby have come but it is also another means for family and friends to see updates on how the journey is going. It is also something you can look back on in years to come and be amazed at how brave you all were.

While there is nothing that does eliminate the fear, the loss of control, and hopelessness, there is support you can receive at these times. Other parents who have had children battle the same setback can talk with you. Doctors and nurses can be incredible support for you during this time. Hospital Counsellors, Psychologist, Social Workers, Support groups are also wonderful during or after your hospital stay. There are many support groups out there available, search around and there may be one just near you.

Information compiled from t-bones survival tips

The subject matter provided in these articles is strictly for informational purposes alone and should never be used in the place of a doctor’s advice. Please ALWAYS contact your doctor if you ever have questions or need advice in any area where medical advice is needed or medication is suggested.