When I was wheeled into the Triage room (Room 1) of the NICU three days after my preemie was born, I was so overwhelmed by the hospital, my baby, the machines, the nurses, and what the next few months held in store for me and my family that I burst into tears. What I desperately needed at that moment and pretty much every moment until Discharge Day was someone wrapping their arm around my shoulder and telling me what to do minute by minute to survive the experience. There is not much else you can do at such a traumatic time.
So, in an attempt to be that voice of encouragement I’m going to give you my first survival tip: make sure that your basic needs are met and ASK FOR HELP in these areas. Yes, these are like the basic needs you learned about in elementary school: food, clothing, and sleep. Sound kind of silly? Only if you’ve never been in such a situation.
When faced with such a traumatic experience you may be so dedicated to your child that you will forget to take good care of yourself. It’s true. I often skipped meals because I didn’t want to leave my baby’s bedside, and I got to know every vending machine in the hospital. I would have slept at the hospital if they would have let me, and I stayed there way too late every night and arrived first thing in the morning, never allowing myself any personal time. I never got enough sleep. It wore me out and it wore me down and I know it didn’t help my emotional struggles. But all I cared about was my baby.
Make sure that you are filling your basic needs every day because it is one thing that you CAN control. You will have more energy and strength to face each days emotional challenges, and you will stay healthy enough to visit your baby every day.
Read A Call for Help to discover how friends and family can help fill these basic needs.
Please leave any thoughts or opinions you have on the subject in the comments section for this post. Thanks.