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Yesterday Darrick II had surgery, and although we have been through a little one having surgery before this one was extra hard on us as parents because he has heart problems and one of the biggest obstacles to overcome was making sure he stayed stable during the entire procedure. However, he did really well (THANK YOU JESUS) and surgery was successful! He has to have another procedure in 5-10 days to close up the incision in his belly but they are confident that the work they did up until this point has been a success! Thanks for the prayers and this is only the beginning of this marathon with Darrick so please continue to keep him in your prayers!!!
When we got to the hospital early yesterday morning, Darrick was wide eyed and looking around…
Considering his condition when he was first transferred to this hospital, he has been doing excellent! So it was great to walk in and see his eyes before he was whisked off to surgery.
As a Mom of a 2nd child in the NICU I felt that I needed to share some information about my experiences and things that can help other moms/families while their child is in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) or in the hospital in general. The hospital is never a fun place to be but when you have a child in there, to me the most important thing is to make sure you are making them as comfortable as possible so they can heal and go home!
Tips for Families of the NICU…
Im not going to say it gets easier because it doesn’t (well not until they start talking about discharging your child) but you have to stay strong. So if you have to pray, sing songs to yourself, read, meditate, write…whatever it is do it so your mind can stay focused on what’s going on with your child. You have to be able to process all the information that the doctors and nursing are giving to you. You are your child’s biggest advocate, so even though its a hard time you have to make sure you are in your right mind!
Make Your Child Feel At Home
No matter how long the NICU stay is, try to make your child feel at home. Bring their own stuff to the hospital; like blankets, clothes, toys. Also bring in pictures of family; mommy & daddy, siblings and aunts & uncles…
This is a pic from when Emma was in the NICU…we came daily and got her dressed, did her hair and changed her into PJ’s before we left at night. They said she needed some stimulation so we found toys that sang and played music that attached to her crib…anything we would do for her at home, we did at the hospital until she came home. So if that meant putting her in a tutu…yes she was in the hospital with a tutu and hair bows (that was actually more to make mommy and daddy feel better)!
Get Siblings Involved…
Many times the NICU has rules about bringing little children inside even if they are siblings. Currently, our NICU has a rule that you have to be 3 years old or older to come in, so Emma hasnt been able to come in. But we show her pictures of Darrick II and try to explain as much as we can that she has another brother.
Also since Emma cant come in we had craft time and colored a few pictures for Darrick II…
This actually gave Emma and I some time together, time to work on her coloring and handwriting and time for her to do something special for her brother.
Bring Others to Visit
As long as you are comfortable and the hospital allows it…bring others to visit. Usually during the week its mostly my husband and I and grandparents that visit daily. Sometimes aunts and uncles also come during the week. However, on the weekends invite others to come visit…its good for the baby and the company helps the parents as well! We usually tell everyone what time we are going to the hospital on the weekend and plan to stay a little bit longer than we usually do during the week.
Make Sure you are Taking Care of Yourself
Also as parents; we tend to go overboard and stress ourselves out when a child is in the NICU. If they have a nurses you can trust dont feel bad about taking a day off…this is actually a VERY hard one for me. I have two other children I am taking care of along with just having major surgery…so while I know I need to heal I am trying to be SUPERWOMAN also! On Halloween, I took the kids trick or treating at my sisters job; we were there all day and everyone was beat when we got home but I hadn’t been to the hospital…my husband told me that we would rest and go first thing in the morning. I cried because I was still unable to drive and I wanted to go but I knew I needed the rest…we didnt go I called a few times and talked to the nurses they assured me everything was okay…but I felt like the worse mom ever. But after talking to the nurses and talking to my husband I eventually felt better about getting some rest…and I was a brand new person the next morning! You wont do anyone any good if you arent getting rest too…this was the lesson I learned! If they put me back in the hospital for being exhausted and not taking time to heal…I am no good to anyone! So make sure you are taking care of yourself!!!
Take Advantage of Hospital Resources
Usually in ever NICU and Labor & Delivery area of a hospital there are social workers readily available! USE THEM!!! I cant stress enough the importance of talking to the social workers…they are here to help you! The social workers can connect you with pretty much everything you need to assist you in your stay; lactation consultants, state funded programs that can provide assistance for medical bills, extra insurance for your child, programs for the child after they are discharged and much more, free parking passes (usually they only give out 1 or 2…but free parking is awesome no matter how many they can offer)! When Emma was in the NICU for feeding problems due to her Cleft Lip and Palate the social worker and charge nurse “hooked us up” with free formula! So when she came home…although she had a g-tube and this is the reason she probably qualified for free formula…if we hadn’t been communicating with them we would have never known about this option that saved us a TON of money!!!
So please utilize all your resources while in the hospital…its good to stay in communication with doctors, nurses, social workers, consultant and anyone else that comes in! Even the child-life representatives…they help out a bunch also!!! Also dont be afraid to ask if there is a concierge/hospitality room, this is a room specifically for family members that provides a place to come and take your mind off of everything going on. The hospitals we have dealt with have Ronald McDonald room…and it provides snacks, juice & water, recliner chairs, washing machines and dryers, computer hook-ups…and much more! Take Advantage!!!
This is another vital part of having a child in the hospital. One would think they are only paying attention to the sick child…but they are not! They are paying attention to the entire package…the family that comes to visit, your appearance, your interaction with the child…EVERYTHING! Its vital to be a hands-on parent…meaning if the child needs a bath/ do you want to participate, if you haven’t held the child/do you want to hold your child, have you met with the doctors and talk to them about the care of your child (again you are their biggest advocate), do you call and check on them when you cant visit…
With Darrick since he is in more of a critical state; we are unable to do as much for him. But when Emma was in the NICU the nurses knew when we were there; we fed her, we gave baths, we changed diapers, we changed her clothes, we worked with them on changing her mouth strips, we read to her, showed her pictures…everything they did on a daily basis with her we did if we were present! And they are monitoring that interaction to make sure when she went home she would be well taken care of…because if not guess what; she would have never come home with us! Im not trying to scare anyone but its 100% the truth! Build a rapport with everyone in there…so they know when you walk in “those are Darrick’s parents and they are SERIOUS about his care and getting him 100% so he can go home”!!!
If you don’t like something, don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak up for your child. I didn’t know I had become Momma Bear until I called to check on Emma and the nurse was being snippy with me! She was nasty and couldn’t tell me how my child was doing when I called…we went to the hospital at 11pm and got things straight very quickly! One thing I don’t play with is my kids…and that message was conveyed that night (I actually surprised myself being a new mom at the time)! The entire floor knew when we left of what my expectations were as a mom…and it was simply done by asking for the doctor on duty, head nurse and a quick conversation in the hallway!
Be Hands On…In All Aspects!!!
I hope these tips have helped you! As we have been on this journey I have shared things I learned along the way…please feel free to share any tips I have missed in the comments!!! I would love to read them!!!