Menu

12 signs you’re a NICU parent

7. You time your breast-pumping schedule around the NICU in order to use hospital grade pumps.

12 signs  you’re a NICU parent

It’s a familiar place for the select few, a quiet atmosphere mixed with the hustle and bustle of doctors and nurses. It’s a place not for the faint of heart, where parents become stronger than they could ever imagine. It’s a place where happiness can turn into heartache in a matter of seconds, and where those tears of sadness can transform back into joy within minutes.


For the families who experience the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a roller coaster of emotions is a guarantee. It’s a place I remember vividly, as my family called the NICU “home” for nearly four months.

FEATURED VIDEO

It only takes one breath to bring back the memories of my experience as a NICU parent. The distinct smell of the hospital will always stay with me, and the alarms and beeps of the machines bring back a rush of adrenaline and fear.

In 2013, I gave birth to triplets more than 17 weeks premature. My first-born never made it to the NICU; she passed away in our arms in the hospital delivery room. Her brother and sister were whisked away to the NICU. At 22 weeks 6 days, they were the youngest babies our hospital was treating. Our son never experienced life outside the hospital walls; he passed away just shy of two months old. Our lone surviving triplet spent 116 days in the NICU. She’s now a healthy 3-year-old, a perfect testament to overcoming the toughest obstacles.

The NICU will always hold a special place in our hearts and that holds true for so many other families. Here are 12 signs that you are a NICU parent:

1. You measure your child’s weight in grams, not pounds.

You keep a conversion chart handy or download an app. You cry tears of joy when your child reaches that 2000 gram mark (over 4 pounds).

2. You know so many medical terms, strangers assume you’re a medical student.

TPN, CPAP, NG are more than just initials. When a doctor explains your baby’s latest setback, you begin feverishly researching. You even consider becoming a nurse after spending so much time getting to know your baby’s conditions.

3. “Do you want to hold your child?” takes on a whole new meaning.

It may be days or weeks after birth when you first hold your child. Your heart feels like it may burst with love as your baby melts onto your chest for that first “Kangaroo Care” experience.

4. When you see a syringe, you think it’s for feeding.

Food is measured in CC’s for the littlest babies. You jump for joy when the measurements change over to ounces.

5. Your child’s first clothing comes from a doll.

Too small to fit into preemie clothing, you find that Build-A-Bear makes adorable outfits that can be used for more than just stuffed animals.

6. You see a full term baby and he looks like a giant.

Five pounds seems large, but a typical 7-8 pound healthy baby? Whoa! Are you sure he is a newborn?

7. You time your breast-pumping schedule around the NICU in order to use hospital grade pumps.

Sure, I have a breast-pump at home, but you can get five ounces more by using the powerful pumps in the NICU. Plus, the pumping room provides hours of entertainment and hospital gossip!

8. You cringe when you pass a pregnant woman complaining about her third trimester.

You would give anything to make it to 32 weeks. For micro-preemie parents, the thought of even making it to your third trimester would be a dream come true.

9. Your car is on autopilot—you could drive the hospital route in your sleep.

Even after leaving the NICU, you drive halfway to the hospital before realizing your child is home and you actually meant to drive to the grocery store.

10. You buy hand sanitizer in bulk when you hear your child will be coming home soon.

You place giant containers of hand sanitizer at the front door, in the nursery, living room, kitchen and every other room of the house. You also have a box of surgical masks on hand in case you feel a cold coming on.

11. Your child wears newborn size diapers for six months.

Friends start giving you their boxes of diapers that their newborn baby never used. You celebrate when your child finally gets to wear size 1 diapers.

12. You believe in miracles.

Every child is a miracle, but experiencing the NICU gives you a new appreciation for all babies. Your child beat the odds and has proven that the smallest babies can put up the biggest fight.

Originally posted on Her View From Home.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


Keep reading Show less
Shop

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less
News

What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

Keep reading Show less
popular