Meet Laura, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 25 weeks and 5 Days
Days spent in the NICU: 99 Days
Current age of preemie(s): 3
Parent of Multiples: No
Our NICU Journey included, PDA Ligation, Feeding issues, discharge with NG tube, trouble getting off respirator and feeding support.
I remember feeling very supported by the NICU nurses and doctors and that they genuinely wanted the best outcome for my son. But after spending 99 days in the NICU, I also remember how lonely and isolated I felt. No one understood what my husband and I were going through. I was scared and had so many questions about what was happening. I felt like I had no one to turn to for advice or wisdom. Our hospital did not have any type of support for the parents beyond the wonderful nurses. But they didn’t really know what this was like for us. Our NICU journey included feeding and breathing challenges and I wish I could have connected with someone who truly understood.
When we were discharged, that feeling of isolation continued. I was responsible for caring for this baby and I didn’t have anyone to look to for help. I wished I had someone who had a similar NICU experience to ask questions and talk to; who could share their insights and expectations. I’m so glad to be able to be this person for other preemie parents.
What are 3 things that every NICU parent should know?
1: As a parent you are your baby’s advocate so don’t be afraid to ask questions until you get satisfactory answers and don’t be afraid to “bother” the doctors and nurses.
2: Skin-to-skin contact (aka kangaroo care) is not just for the baby, it is for your emotional well-being too. (My husband and I used to have a “schedule” of who got to do the skin-to-skin so that we did not fight about it)
3: You will get through this even though at the time it feels like you never will.
The micropreemie journey can be like walking through a mine field for both preemies and their families. The moms and dads of the earliest babies celebrate not only the milestones, but also the minutes. Every hour in the early days is hard won. Every milestone met, a triumph. A micro-preemie parent’s courage and resilience may be tested to the very limits. The struggle may feel never-ending, but it’s important that parents know they are never alone.