Meet Emily, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 29 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 65
Current age of preemie(s): 4
Parent of Multiples: Yes
Our NICU Journey included: Higher order multiples, PDA ligation, reflux (all 3), kidney issues (all 3), food sensitivities, feeding difficulties, pumping and breastfeeding challenges, and maternal health complications.
The thing I remember most about my triplets’ NICU journey is being completely exhausted- emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. The fear and guilt, the lack of sleep and pumping, trying to remember what all the different acronyms stand for, recovering from the actual birth, and all of the million other thoughts constantly swirling around my brain were overwhelming and draining.
But I made it through. The first thing that every NICU parent should know is that it’s ok to ask questions. Talk to the nurses, doctors, other medical professionals, and really any sort of support people that are available to you. The more you know about the wires, sounds, and terminology, the more comfortable you’ll feel caring for and advocating for your preemie. Second, in this case the ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ advice can actually be helpful. The naps I had while doing kangaroo care with my triplets were the best sleep I got the entire time they were in the NICU. And lastly no accomplishment is ever too small. Progress is rarely linear but any forward step is cause to celebrate.
I want to reach out to other parents as a Graham’s Foundation parent mentor so that they know they’re not alone. Although everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s preemie is different, you are not alone in your love and anger, heartbreak and elation. Hopefully that knowledge can make this time a little less lonely.
Life After the NICU/Parenting an Older Preemie
The prematurity journey doesn’t end after parents make the transition home with their babies. Prematurity can have numerous lasting effects – many of which are invisible – and so moms and dads very often find themselves needing continuing support after discharge.