As we get more into the holiday season I cant help but think about how 2 years ago I spent half of my Thanksgiving Day in the NICU visiting my son, and the other half was spent at home with the rest of my babies! That particular year was one of the hardest holiday seasons EVER, especially since our son didn’t make it through the Christmas holiday.
A couple of days ago Facebook reminded me (with the memories) that leading up to Thanksgiving, we were hitting milestones with Darrick II but he was in the NICU the entire time. As I began to think about it I started praying for those families that are currently in the NICU or the hospital in general with their babies this holiday season!
I created general tips for Moms of the NICU, but this particular list is how to cope with having a child in the NICU or hospital during the holidays…
Decorate their Room…if you are able to don’t be afraid to bring some holiday cheer into their room. When Darrick II was in the NICU I bought a miniature monogrammed stocking and hung it on his bed.
Buy “1st Year Holiday” Outfits…its understandable that you don’t want to spend your holiday in the hospital, however, it is now apart of your story so make the most of it. So if its the babies 1st year celebrating, continue to do some of the things that you would do as if the child was at home!
You are NOT required to spend all day there…I know you are torn, but its okay to visit for a couple of hours and go home and try to have a normal day. Especially if you have other children, you dont want to neglect their holiday. And honestly its HARD there is no way around that but sometimes sitting there makes it harder. If your child has an excellent team, let them take care of the child…call and get updates or come back later on after “dinner” or “family time”
Participate in the Family Activities the Hospital Provides…one year my nephew was in the hospital before Christmas. They had a holiday Christmas party, and they originally told him he could attend then came back and said that he couldn’t…so we went the party and gathered items and brought them back to his room! Usually for the NICU they bring around little gifts for the kids, but if they have a party…step away and attend and bring back whatever you can for the child…color a page and hang it up in their room. Get a stuffed animal if they are sharing them…whatever you can do! We also attended one of the Christmas Parties in the Ronald McDonald room at Cleveland Clinic. Although our hearts were heavy, it was nice to get a meal and talk with other parents!
Ask Your Family for Help…whether that is bringing you a plate for dinner, or just going to the hospital for moral support! I know you don’t want to ruin the holiday but there is nothing wrong with asking for help, especially if you have other children.
And most of all cherish the time! You never know what can happen, and although you are in the hospital try to make the most of this time because although we wish we could stop the time so we arent spending the holidays in the NICU the reality is we cant, so make the most of the time you are there. Hopefully you will look back and smile at those memories and think about how far your child has come!
Happy Holidays from one NICU Mom to Another!!!
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