Okay, so Father’s Day is a few days away, but we want to start to celebrate these un-sung hero’s today!
As a NICU nurse, I have been present for hundreds of critical admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit. Rather than the birth of a new baby being surrounded by joy and celebration with balloons, flowers and cigars; these small and fragile infants are born with families that are now faced with fear and uncertainty.
While parents have frequently told me that they admire me for what I do, I always tell them it’s the other way around! I have always had the utmost respect and admiration for NICU parents. They come in to this completely foreign and scary environment day after day, having to trust complete strangers with the most precious thing in the world to them.
They have to leave their child in the hands of nurses and doctors for days, weeks, months or even years while they do everything they can to feel like a parent. They have to juggle their outside life and this new life that revolves around a hospital. Some parents have infants that are so sick, that they come in never knowing if it will be for the last time. Yet these parents stay strong and keep going. They manage other children they have at home, they manage to get out of bed each day and go back to the hospital and they manage to show their baby more love than I ever knew a human could possibly have.
Yet above this generalized admiration for NICU parents, I have found that I personally have the most respect and highest regard for the dad’s in the NICU. Please don’t take that as an offense to mothers because as a mother myself, I am fully aware of the sacrifices moms make. It’s the moms that are pumping milk every two to three hours around the clock, getting no sleep, usually are the ones that help keep the house going, the other kids going, juggle the priorities to make sure everything gets done and lets not forget the hormonal changes they have to suffer through after having a baby. Yet when you stop and watch a family, and really look at the experience and stress they are going through, I see something very different in the eyes of the fathers.
When I watch a dad come in, there is this overwhelming weight that I will see in his eyes. The weight is filled with hope of course, but it’s as if he realizes that he not only has this small little person to fight for and care about, but he also has this baby’s mother to worry about. I have watched countless fathers be at the bedside around the clock just like a mother. Yet not only is he tending to his child’s needs, but he is also making sure his partner is eating enough, drinking enough, getting up and moving enough. He is worried about how she feels, if she is getting enough rest, and the list goes on and on.
So NICU fathers, on this coming fathers’ day, we will celebrate YOU! We will celebrate the dad who shows up to the NICU with unbreakable strength and never ending devotion to care and provide for everyone that is important to him!
Visit our Celebrating Fathers Day Pinterest page to find ways to help celebrate the NICU dad’s this weekend!
In my many years of NICU nursing, I was asked countless times from families if they could take me home with them! And I heard families ask my co-workers that same question time and time again.
Families, while in the NICU, especially when they experience a lengthy stay, grow accustomed to having a medical professional looking after their fragile infant 24/7. That brings a level of comfort and when parents are facing the reality of finally taking their child home, the excitement of leaving the hospital can often times be overwhelmed by the fear of not having immediate help near by if something were to go wrong.
The answer to their question unfortunately was/is always no. Nurses can't go home with parents. HOWEVER.... there is a little bit of good news! Parents can become their own N.U.R.S.E. to ensure they are taking care of themselves so that in turn they will be able to better care for their child when outside the hospital walls.
Implementing the N.U.R.S.E. care model is most beneficial if families can begin utilizing the tool while still in the hospital. This provides the opportunity for parents and family members to get used to how the tool works and can utilize the NICU staff as supporters of their plans. Once home, families will be better equipped to continue the practice of N.U.R.S.E. self care and can transition to relying on other family and friends for support.
What is the N.U.R.S.E. care model?
It is simply a way to create, carry out and stick to goals that focus on self care! The individual will create daily goals in several categories, and do their best and meeting those goals to improve and/or optimize health.
Each category signifies an area of focus that if addressed, can help improve an individual's psychosocial support.
N: Nutrition Making a goal related to eating right and having healthy foods/snacks is so important! Think of a goal that will help you get in healthy foods for fuel your body.
U: Understanding Having the information you need to understand what is going on with you and/or with your child will help calm nerves and/or anxiety. It's important to know where to go for appropriate information, as the web can provide inaccurate information that is not applicable to YOUR situation. Ask questions of the medical professionals involved in your or your child's care.
R: Rest & Relaxation Being a new parents is exhausting and overwhelming. Being a parent of a NICU graduate can be even more exhausting and overwhelming due to many complexities of care and worries. Getting plenty of rest is KEY! And finding ways to allow yourself to relax will help you not only feel better, but will help you be more equipped to care for your baby.
S: Spiritual Not everyone believes in a higher power, or a God. So spiritual goals really need to be customized to what spirituality means to you. Is it spending time in prayer? Reading scripture? Meditating? Being out in nature? Finding ways to connect to what is important to you is what this is all about!
E: Exercise Healthy movement and exercise is good for everyone.... especially stressed new parents. Find a way to work an exercise goal into every day. Maybe it's to get out and talk a short walk, to participate in yoga at home, to walk on a treadmill, etc. But setting a goal where you will get some type of exercise every day will be good for everyone!
Download a N.U.R.S.E. template form now and start setting self care goals today!
When a baby winds up in the NICU, parents and families often feel overwhelmed with emotions and questions.
The list of what's and how's are endless and are so stressful for families and as a NICU nurse, I have always wanted to have a simple resource to provide families that would give them answers to all of their biggest questions in one place. Yet there are so many things that I have never been able to find a comprehensive source that has felt supportive and beneficial.
That is until I found this............
I absolutely LOVE finding great resources on line, especially ones that are easy to read, fun, factual and even bring a little humor into the subject.
Let's face it.... when it comes to parenting and motherhood.... things can be difficult and not always pleasant. I know for me, when I first started looking things up on line when I found out I was pregnant, I was not happy to learn things such as:
And this was all going to happen before I left the hospital!!!! This was no beautiful birth miracle that people made it out to be! Fast forward to the massive diaper blow outs, your kid's vomit that you catch in your hand because you can't stand the thought of it getting on the carpet one more time, you peeing yourself jumping on the trampoline at your kid's 5th birthday party and the way you obsess over every bowel movement everyone in your house has!
Google becomes our best friend. You look up everything and you constantly are looking for articles, information and stories on line that will help you make sense of all the chaos and unknowns parenting is throwing your way. You desperately want a manual to this new life...... but there isn't one!!!!!
momlovesbest.com is the closest website to a one stop shop for new mom's that want to find blog posts and pinterest posts from everything related to pregnancy all the way through childhood. With easy to read infographics and entertaining blog stories, every mom is sure to find useful and beneficial information that will help calm some nerves and/or answer a nagging question that is lingering in the back of her mind.
MomLovesBest was created by Jenny Silverstone who is a professional writer, editor and who has been a mother for the past 7+ years. She found herself searching the web looking at various sites trying to find a comprehensive location that could help her do her best, but she felt overwhelmed! So, she created a place that was non-judgemental and safe to help other women transition into the journey of motherhood where they could come and get all the information they needed, or just a second opinion, in a community of other women.
Thank you Jenny! And I am happy to share this great resource with my followers as a resource as well, to find helpful information as you grow with your child out side of the NICU!