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Dads of Preemies, ROP, Life after NICU

Meet Rick, Preemie Parent Mentor

My preemie(s) was born at: 24 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 120
Current age of preemie(s): 3
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included: ROP, IVH, Feeding Difficulties

I firmly believe that preemie fathers need more support than is currently available in the NICU. Dads of preemies go through a unique set of challenges. We have to support a partner who is postpartum, make sure family and friends are updated on our family’s health, face tough decisions in the NICU, and try to be strong for their partner. We need to keep it together even though their world may be seemingly falling out from under us.

You have to trust people you don’t know with your child’s life and hope that they know what they are doing. There are many things that I have learned and/or wish I had done that I’d like to help other parents. The number of challenges these preemies overcome is mind boggling. At times, I think my daughter, Nora, was doing better than both of her parents.

There are many aspects of the NICU that stay with you. Now that we are home, it’s still amazing to see her without any wires, machines, blood transfusions, caffeine, feeding tubes, vents, monitors, etc. I still put my ear to her chest to ensure she is still breathing. And while I can sometimes still hear the monitors and alarms in my head, the sounds have been replaced with Nora’s laughter and we are forever grateful to have been given the opportunity to be her parents and can’t thank her NICU team enough. I’d like to be that source of hope and sounding board for parents to help them navigate the stormy waters that they will encounter in the NICU.

What are 3 things that every NICU parent/grandparent should know?
1) Celebrate the wins
2) There will be information overload – ask a lot of questions to ensure you understand everything
3) It will be a roller coaster ride – there will be great days and horrible days. You’ll never stop worrying but remain positive

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.