NICU How To # 1: Don’t Bomb ANYONE.

FB MUFFINI have been sitting here in the book store staring blankly at an empty screen for quite a while, trying to think of what I can possibly say to other NICU parents that might be encouraging, supportive, and positive, yet not made of sparkles and unicorn farts.   I have also been sitting here quite a while because I locked myself out of my house and I have nowhere else to go that is warm, dry, and is internet & coffee-accessible.   If you get anything out of my first NICU support blog, please get this:

I am not smarter than you.

I am so unbelievably not smarter than you.   Your experience in the NICU is at all times yours, and while I might have experienced it before you, or have a different take on it than you, your experience is the only one that counts right now.   If anything I have to say sounds like rubbish to you, then toss it out like yesterday’s coffee-grounds.   (Or compost it.   Coffee grounds & shredded blogs make excellent citrus-tree fertilizer.)

I guess to put 1st things 1st, I should tell you a little bit about my own pregnancy, delivery, and entrance into the NICU lair.  Even though it took us nearly 4 years to become pregnant, my pregnancy was awesome.   It was textbook perfect.   I had morning sickness exactly twice, and my blood pressure was better than when I was a kid.   In fact, I was still running right up until the end of my 6th month.   AAAAAAAAnnnd then it was over, just-like-that.   2 days after I hit 28 weeks, I delivered my baby girl.   She made it the 48 hours the doctor and I were hoping and praying for, so that the steroid shot could develop her lungs, and then my perfect, boring pregnancy was over in exactly two drugged up pushes.   She weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces, and looked a lot like a baby bird who had fallen out of the nest too soon, which is kinda what happened, if you think about it.

I thank God for the Norco, for the first few days.   I have absolutely no idea how much pain I was actually in, but the Norco made things all happy again, and I won’t be made to feel ashamed of that.   I stuck firmly to the dosing schedule and when it was gone, it was gone.   Regretfully, cruelly, oh-so-totally gone.  *muffled sobbing*   It is my opinion that whatever you have to do to get through that first week is fair game.   Just, you know– no alcohol, no sex, no relaxing hot bath, and no exercise.   So besides those things that the doctor makes you swear you’ll leave alone, party on.   Nyuck nyuck.   It’s funny now– not so much then, as that was my entire list of coping mechanisms for stress.   I did get a lot of mileage out of some tea called “tension tamer” and Starbucks’ “Calm” tea.   It’s not the rocking good time that the Norco was, but it was something.

Strangely, breast-pumping was very comforting to me the 1st week, too.   I had the good fortune to be ignorant of how hard it was supposed to be.   I really had no idea that most people find it to be a disgusting pain in the ass.    I just thought it was really cool that food was coming out of my naughty-bits.   The oxytocin release is very nice too, and to be honest– if I can pump out 200 calories while sitting on my couch, or burn off 200 calories on my elliptical, it will be the couch every single time.  I also had no idea of how long I was supposed to pump before giving it a rest, so I just pumped until I felt like my nipples might detach and get sucked into the vial, and then quit.   In hindsight I would do it exactly this way again, because it did wonders for establishing my supply.  Lanolin cream and nursing pads were a lifesaver.   Get some.

The most important advice I have to give for those first few days is to stay positive.  Yes, I realize our society chants “stay positive” like a freaking mantra, and that in everyday life it has lost all meaning.  Your mission is to find the meaning again.   All your energy is going to be focused inside a 10×10 curtain- partitioned room.  If you are anything like me & every other NICU parent I’ve ever met, you will have no time for the following:

News.  Just don’t, okay?  Maybe tune into the weather so you can know how to dress yourself, but that’s it.   There is nothing you can do (in most cases) to help any of the downtrodden and abused people featured.   If rescuing the downtrodden is your calling, just make a note to get back to it later.   Focus on the downtrodden little person in the NICU that you CAN help.   That, or just make a donation to your favorite charity while you go on your news vacation.    Mostly the news is just a giant life-suck that we’ve been conditioned to believe is our civic duty to imbibe.    It isn’t.   If you are looking for a civic duty to fill the void, learn something useful, like infant CPR.

Politics If politics is important to you, that is fine.   Mark your calendar for election day and make sure to be there to vote.  Leave the bitching about it to people who aren’t currently willing their newborn to live.    Vote, then let it go.    Wooooosahh.

Gossip.  This one is pretty self-explanatory, I think.    The more you let yourself get sucked into the drama, the less you will have to give to anything else.

Fighting with strangers on the internet.   This one should be followed by every person, always, no matter what.

Now– sad as it is– no matter how hard you try to eradicate the useless strife in your life, the useless strife will make a point to single you out, rip off your head and take a big nutty dump down your throat. Useless Strife’s favorite vehicle tends to be your closest friends and family members. Since you can’t exactly shelve them like you can shelve the news, politics, gossip and internet squabbles, you are going to have to learn how to deal with them. Ultimately, no matter what stupid thing they say to you, they probably mean well and want the best for you and your baby. Also, your baby might only be in the NICU for a few days, weeks, or months– but you will be in your family forever, so bombing nosy Aunt Francis’s house is at all times a no-go. I don’t care if she did ask you if you delivered premature or developed preeclampsia because you drank coffee and ate soft cheeses that one time– you cannot bomb her house. I cannot stress this enough, STAND DOWN. DON’T DO IT.

Seriously, put the bazooka down. Right now.

I suppose right now I could turn this into one of those trendy “What NOT to Say to a NICU Parent” type blogs, but A) it’s been done before, and B ) the people who need to read it probably aren’t here to begin with, and C) there is something indefinably douchey about trying to give the whole world a tutorial on how to deal with you now that you have [insert problem] going on. Besides– even if we could train people to say exactly the right things at the right times, we’d just hate them for it. We’d become co-dependent on their perfect perfectness and they’d eventually resent us and run screaming. It’s the human condition, I guess.

What to do then, you ask? Now that we’ve ruled out napalming grandma and heading into witness protection in Amish country?

Mom’s List:
Hold your baby.
Pump, eat, then pump again.
Hold your baby.
Pump, eat, then pump again.

Dad’s List:
Hold your woman.
Hold your baby.
Wash the pump stuff & then procure food. More is better.
Hold your woman.
Hold your baby.

556963_467620616629707_1025167833_nYou see how little space is left for anything else? That is intentional. Find a key person to disperse updates, (my good friend made a FB group just for this purpose) and let everything else fall to hell.

That is all.

Muffin’s Minion


About Vanessa Harris

Vanessa Harris
My name is Vanessa and I am new to the mommy-blog. I am so new that I am not even sure if “mommy-blog” is supposed to have a hyphen. A little about me: I am married to a great guy, I have 1 sweet little baby girl nicknamed “Muffin,” and my mommy-journey has included 3 moves with the military, (Yeah, I am an Army wife, with whatever that entails) a really rotten battle with infertility, an ectopic rupture that almost killed me, and then a year later I went into pre-term labor at exactly 28 weeks. My beautiful baby girl weighed 2lb 10 oz, and spent almost 12 weeks in the NICU before coming home with us. While a good chunk of my blogging will focus on my experiences in the NICU, I plan to skip around-- forward, backward, and every which way I feel like, whenever I want and completely without reason. Mostly this is because I am a great big emotional flake, and it is taking me a while to process the whole NICU experience. So, sometimes it will be all NICU, and sometimes it will be anything but. I hope you enjoy!

Check Also

Breastfeeding the Premature Baby: Nursing in the NICU

Worldwide, more than 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. In the US, that …

One comment

  1. Avatar

    Crying sobbing….I am a 63 year old grandmother who never experienced anything like this yet here I am reading this.
    How did I get here. Looking at reborn dolls on google

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.