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Dad of a Preemie

Meet Brendan, Preemie Parent Mentor

My preemie(s) was born at: 27 weeks, 3 days
Days spent in the NICU: 75
Current age of preemie(s): 9 months (6 adjusted)
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: Preeclampsia, having a child during COVID Pandemic/NICU stay during pandemic, ROP, IVH, having a baby on breathing support (hifi, nipv, CPAP, high flow, low flow), Hernia surgery.

What are 3 things that every NICU parent/grandparent should know?
1) Celebrate every win
2) Ask questions and keep asking them, especially when you don’t understand something.
3) Be an advocate for your baby

The NICU can be a very intimidating place, especially if you have a vague understanding of what it is before you first visit it. There is constant beeping from heart rate monitors, nurses moving about from bed to bed, and you quickly learn the differences between things like desaturations, bradycardia, tachycardias, and what they mean for your baby.

As a Dad with a premature baby you’re not only worried about the health of your baby, but also that of your spouse who may be ill or on a longer road to recovery. You’re also the conduit for providing updates to family and friends, managing their concerns while also trying to be strong for your spouse and keeping yourself upright.

I had to learn to surrender myself to the situation and have complete trust that doctors and nurses that were caring for my baby were going to help our baby have his best chance at survival.

I remember how compassionate and caring the nurses were, how every milestone – every day he survived, to gradually less intense breathing support, weight gain, etc, felt like a gigantic win and was something worth celebrating.

Since Remy was born during the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife and I were only able to visit the NICU one at a time, and none of our other family members could visit. The nurses and staff became our family and entire support system for his entire stay.

Supporting Fathers of Premature Babies

The word we most often see associated with dads coping with prematurity is strong. Fathers in the NICU and beyond are described as the walls that hold up the world around mothers, babies, and whole families. What we seldom see acknowledged is that dads of preemies may feel just as terrified, overwhelmed, and confused as their partners, but they’re not encouraged to share these emotions. Many dads are “fixers” – they want something to do. While there is plenty dads can do, premature birth is an issue without an easy fix.