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

Friends in the NICU

One of the best things we did for ourselves during our stay at the NICU was make friends.  I recall the first time my husband said hello and started chatting with the woman next to us.  At first I was thinking he shouldn’t bother her, but then she chatted back and told us how she was there when they first brought Drake in.  She was very nice and it kind of felt nice to see we weren’t alone.  The next day she was moved to a new location and a new baby was next to us. 

I am a little quieter and don’t generally start conversations with strangers but my husband is very outgoing and will talk to anyone and everyone.  I am sometimes embarrassed because he is the type to just start opening drawers and looking about, ask anyone anything, etc. but in truth, I am sometimes very thankful for this trait because he has helped us make friends we probably wouldn’t have made or to find out things we wouldn’t have found out if it wasn’t for his outgoing personality.

With the new baby next to us, we started out with small smiles if our eyes met, hello’s and have a goodnight as we passed them on our way to or from Drake’s bed.  Eventually we started talking about our babies and how we got here.  As time went on we started learning from each other, I watched as they gave their daughter her first bath (we weren’t there yet), they were encouraged by my confidence in handling Drake and taking him in and out of the bed myself, and my husband taught us all it was OK to laugh and have a little fun.

Another baby was born and was placed on the other side of Drake, another girl.  Again, started with smiles and casual hello’s but as I learned her case was very similar to mine and we discovered that I was the person the ICU nurses kept mentioning since we were similar.  Both IVF patients with IUGR babies.  Again, the relationship developed.  The three of us ladies started chatting in the pump room, while the men chatted it up by the beds.  We started to support each other when things got rough and cheered when one progressed.

We all just really formed a bond.  When Drake had an emergency surgery for a strangulated hernia repair I had to pump and I ran into the one Mom as I entered and the minute I saw her I started bawling, she helped and supported me and gave me courage.  After the surgery the other Mom came to see us (they moved us into isolation due to MRSA) and was in tears that she couldn’t come by us, it touched us that she cared so much for our baby.

We helped each other in so many ways, finding out about parking passes, pumping tips and advice, learning it’s sometimes OK to question the nurses or doctors, OK to get angry and OK to laugh.  I can’t imagine what the time would have been like without these friendships.

It was bitter sweet as each baby went home, we were happy for them and encouraged that our baby was next, we were jealous a little and yet missed them very much.  Luckily they all went home not too far apart and we were all always just a phone call away.

Nobody can understand what you are going through more then somebody going through it right next to you.  Your family and friends will try to support you and as much as they try they will not be able to comprehend all you are feeling.  I recommend very highly that you attempt to make friendships in the NICU or to attend support groups.  The nurses told us how they used to have a parents group and after seeing us all bond, they wish they still did.

We talked to many people during our stay and made many friendships.  We still talk with many of them.  Some are just casual email exchanges or facebook friends but us three families have stayed in touch and get together from time to time.  It’s great to have this relationship, we do the same thing we did in the NICU, we laugh, we cry, we advise, and fun together.  We are blessed to have made friends like these and thankful for the best support we could ever wish for.  We hope as our kids grow that they too will benefit from this common bond.  Friends from birth….hopefully friends for life.

Comments

  1. One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t put forth the effort to make friends while in the NICU. Granted, because I spent my days there, and not evenings, I didn’t see very many other parents. But even when there were other parents around I kept to myself and suffered in silence. I was completely alone for most of those 94 days (my husband was in another state finishing his schooling). Oh, how I needed someone to talk to! I’m so glad that you and your husband made friends and helped each other through the experience.

    • Perhaps if you had made friends you might not have started this website…I am sure we all wish we could have been there to support you when you needed it, but you have created a wonderful site to help people….try not to regret.

  2. It totally is the best thing you can do it helps with the stress we made friends with 2 other families and 16 months later we all stay in touch it’s WONDERFUL!

  3. the baby directly beside of my son, i knew his mother from highschool. there baby had already been there for 3 weeks, and was there after we left, but the other babies beside of us just stayed for a few days, but we were friendly and positive to everyone!

  4. I have 2 great friends that I see weekly from NICU ♥

  5. yes, Lexi had a preemie next to her which was born an hour later after her, her name is Phoebe, they are both still doing well……..

  6. We made friends in the NICU and it helped get us through not only the NICU experience but all the challenges thereafter. We are still friends with some of the families now 7 years later. They are really the only ones that understand our particular challenges (and neurosis).

  7. max has his 2 little girlfriends who we see often 🙂 nice to be able to share the same experiences as all 3 babies were due at the same time x

  8. I really wish we had made friends with people, but my son was in the NICU 7 weeks and we encountered no other babies with long-term stays. We did chat occasionally with some families, but didn’t keep in touch. I wish we had been able to connect, but at least I have online friends who share my experience 🙂

  9. Thanks to my husband, we did make friends with several people. One family in particular. THeir son was born 8 weeks after my daughter and each of our kiddos spent about 6 months in the NICU. They faced very different but yet similar problems. It was so nice to have support from someone in the same shoes as us!!

  10. We weren’t encouraged to talk to other parents. There were signs up about respecting others privacy.that was the only thing I wish had been different.

  11. My preemie son has a preemie girlfriend and the mom and I have become very close friends. It’s the best thing that has ever happened.

  12. nope never made friends with any families in the nicu cuz for 1 some would sit there and force feed their children after being told not too and others were mad because i could produce alot of milk for my son and they couldnt

  13. zack has made a few friends too x

  14. I made friends with one mother and it made things alot easier. We keep in touch still today. Her son is still in the hospital and I still check on him weekly.

  15. I cherish my NICU friends. No one can truly understand the rollercoaster ride we had for 5 months in the NICU and continues still today at almost 2 years old. Thank you to all you mom’s (and dads) out there who can listen and understand the range of emotion as we hit each peak and valley along this road with our preemie!

  16. my son was at first sharing a room with a little girl. she weighed 3 lbs, and had been there months, i only knew a few things about her. just her name and weight really, i spent so much time consumed with my own precious preemie, i didn’t r…eally talk to anyone. and when i wasn’t at his bedside, i was in the lactation room. so i wasn’t really talking with anyone there,or walking the halls , and the nicu my son was born in, was set up very privatly, they actually moved us to a private room. and we took halls to get to room 71, and didn’t even really pass anybabies on the way. but it was a postive experence.

  17. With my first preemie we were in a shared room with other babies and did get to know some of the parents. One in particular I still keep in touch with and love exchanging Christmas cards. With my second preemie we were in a NICU/ICC that had private individual rooms so we didn’t get to know anyone. I missed that connection the second time. It was so much lonelier, although it was nice to have our own room!

  18. At my baby’s hospital, BIDMC, they have Meet the Grads and Current NICU Parents Day every Friday and Monday. I kind of want to wait til dad comes up around Thanksgiving since he is more of the outgoing type. So far, I have made one friend from the Breastfeeding Mothers Group. Participating in NICU events helps a lot when building relationships with other NICU parents.

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