Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Balancing Work & a NICU Stay

One week after my release from the hospital, I stopped at the office and made arrangements to come back to work only two short weeks after the birth of my daughter.  I was lucky that I was able and my only restriction was not to use stairs. With only four weeks of leave time, this would leave me with time to spare when Roxy came home from the hospital.

After spending two weeks seeing my daughter for hours every day, the adjustment back to work was hard. I checked in as much as I dared – once every three hour period. I left work each night and traveled to the hospital to spend what time I could with her. I tried to adjust my schedule around the hour each night we were shooed from the room while the nurses changed shifts so that I could spend the maximum amount of time with her. I tried to be there for her care. I always found out which night was bath night and stayed later if necessary to do it.

Most nights I ate supper while traveling home. Straight to bed and then up again to do it all over.

For almost seven weeks, it was routine. My saving grace those weeks was Saturday and Sunday when I could be sure I would get to spend quality, uninterrupted time with my baby girl.

Nobody understood why I felt the need to go back to work after only two weeks when I had more time to take. To me, it made absolute sense. There was no medical reason I couldn’t go back to work and when my baby came home, I had two weeks of uninterrupted time to spend with her. I had time to bond with my baby outside of the hospital before I had to entrust her to another’s care.

Did my daughter suffer from my decision? I don’t think so. I was still there for her every day. We just adjusted the time that I arrived and left the hospital. Because I called throughout the day, I still knew what was going on with her when I wasn’t able to be there with her.

I think when we are thrust into these situations, we as parents make the best choices we can for our families. For our family, this worked. For another, it may not.

Did you return to work during your child’s NICU stay?  What motivated your return?

Samantha Pridgen About Samantha Pridgen

Samantha (KY) is the mother of Roxy, a micropreemie turned preschool princess. Roxy was born at 29 weeks weighing only 1 pound, 9 ounces. Now a healthy 4-year-old, Roxy has no long-standing complications from prematurity. Samantha writes about her family as well as Roxy's early arrival and prematurity at Mommy to a Princess. You can also find Samantha on Twitter, Facebook, or email her at samanthap@mommytoaprincess.com.


  1. I didn’t have to go back to work when Tyler was born (7 weeks early) because I had quit my job in preparation to be a SAHM. I can only imagine how difficult it could be having to return to “normal” life while your child struggles in the NICU, but I also sometimes wonder if that would have been better. I guess we just find what works for us and try to move forward.

    Great post, Samantha!

    • I think it is amazing how every story is so unique even though they sprout from the same common element – prematurity. So many things that we did would not have worked for friends in the same situation!

      Thank you, Roxanne!

  2. I also went back to work before my daughter came home. I was off work for 6 weeks before I had gone back to work. I had a c-section and other problems during delivery that made me stay out longer. I only had to go back and forth for 2 1/2 weeks during the time I was working. It was the hardest time for me, I spent many of days crying at work wondering when she would come home. I my daughter was born at 34 weeks and was a big girl for a preemie at 7 lbs 12 oz she looked and appeared to be a normal healthy baby, but looks are decieving. The only thing holding her back was eating, and she even ended up coming home with a ng tube too. She is a happy healthy 15 month old now.

    • Looks are very deceiving with preemies; you just never know what’s really going on with another. Waiting for a preemie to come home seems like an eternity to waiting parents, doesn’t it?

      So glad she’s doing well, Amber!

  3. Hello! I just had a 31 weeker 6/29/2012 She was 3 lb 1 oz and 15.5 inches. She is still in NICU. No major issues. I have already made plans to go back to work asap. I can take 12 weeks off. I live an hour an a half away from her hospital so we only make the trip to see her every other day but her doctor calls me every morning with updates. I explained to my HR that I want to stop my leave and go back as soon as possible so when she is released I can take the remaining time of my leave to be with her. I did also have a c-section but the dr okay’d my return for 1/2 days. So I am going to go back. I am feeling great for having major surgery 13 days ago!!

  4. my sweet pea, aubrey, was born 5 weeks ago today at 24 weeks gestation. i went back to work the week after she was born. my job doesn’t have paid days off, no maternity leave…it’s like being self-employed. so, if i wanted a paycheck, i had to go back (and the hospital bills are going to be daunting). thankfully, i have an amazing boss who allows me to come in early and leave early (or leave whenever i need to, depending on aubrey’s condition) to be at the hospital as much a i can. it runs me ragged some days, working and trying to be at the hospital every spare moment and then having to take care of my husband and home, but i wanted to be able to take a few weeks off when she comes home–that seemed most important to me. we still have a long road to travel until then, but we’ll get there.

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