A lot of you are aware of the emotional struggle Wes and I had when Logan was admitted into the NICU. The 14 days that he was in the hospital and we were not able to take him home or make him feel better was devastating. Since then, we have had a few ignorant comments “Aren’t you glad you got to sleep while he was in the NICU” or “At least you didn’t have to deal with the first really hard days” and to those people…what you said was terrible. Wes and I set an alarm every three hours; we would call the NICU nurses and ask them how he ate, how is glucose test was, and then we would be up and in his room right at 8: 00am…everyday. We ate at the cafeteria; we cried in the car when we had to come home…it was something that was the worst.
We had a lot of silent support. Friends and family allowed us to be, but we knew if we needed them it would only take one text or one phone call and they would be there. One of the families I am referring to was the first to see Logan, pre NICU, they were a part of our engagement, wedding, ups and downs. They are truly a special family to us. Their fifteen year old is currently a student in a media program and approached us to talk about Logan’s stay at the NICU. It was an emotional day, re-living all of the memories and feelings that came along with them. In the end, I am so glad she asked…I know how this sweet film and lots of great footage of us as a family. I wanted to share this because it’s a victory for the Baileys!
A little media spice, but for the most part…this is Logan’s story.
So what can you do if you or a friends little one is in the NICU?
1. Become familiar with the NICU prior to having your child. It may not be anything you will ever need education on but… We did not know there were certain times NO one could be in the unit because of shift changes and physician/nurse conferencing on each child. When your child needs an IV, it can go in the head, foot, arm, leg, etc. you never know because they are so little. Do some research (just like you would in case of a c-section) and learn about the NICU. I thought when Logan went into the NICU he was going to die… The NICU is far from a death sentence, but that is what happens when you are not educated.
2. Unless you were smoking, drinking, or doing drugs chances your baby being in the NICU was not your fault. Realize this and then you can start to help your baby by being the strong mom you know you are.
3. You are your baby’s advocate. Do not be afraid to research their condition, what to expect and ask lots and lots of questions. If something does not feel right, make it known.
4. Interact with your baby. Yes, the wires make things difficult, or maybe you can’t hold them all the time. You CAN, however, talk to them, show them pictures, read them books, put on light music, or anything you want really. When Logan was laying the bed, I would make a little show with his stuffed elephant; we would watch Heat basketball and PTI every day.
5. Ask. So many people want to help you, they feel helpless and are ready to do anything you need. I remember Wes, and I asking for a friend to meet us at a restaurant next to the hospital. It was a random friend, but it turns out this friend had a daughter who was in the NICU, and he was able to support us while we broke down emotionally.
For Friends and Family:
I would first advise…do not say something as ignorant as the example above.
1. Show you care. These days it is acceptable to write on someone’s Facebook wall and then your friend duty is over. Guess what, I have news for you; it is not. Parents who have a child in the NICU are emotionally overwhelmed. Their main focus is not the same as yours. They are 100 percent consumed with every moment in the NICU. Show you care by leaving a care package at the door with a gift card for a meal, quarters for the vending machine, a box of protein bars and a journal or anything that can help. Text them often, even if you do not hear back. I remember a gymnast of mine and her mom dropped off a “god bless baby” doll and a card that said they were thinking about us at the nurses station. Brought me to tears and to this day they will never know how much I appreciated them taking time out of their day to come and see me.
2. Journal what they tell you… When you text them to see how the baby is, how they are… Write down the date, what they said, and if there is a picture then save that with the book.
3. Do not share stories. The worst thing you can do is “find” stories and then say “I heard this on…” If you do not have a personal one, then just listen.