Parenting a Preemie in the NICU

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

My experience with prematurity began in 2006, when my twins, Reece and Graham, were born over three months early. Reece lived, but my wife Jenn and I lost Graham after 45 days and losing him made it abundantly clear that we were facing an uncertain future for Reece. There was a time when we didn't know if we would bring her home, much less what her quality of life would be like if we did.

Having a preemie changes your life. Joys become much more potent as you learn to savor your preemie's tiny victories. Your ability to cope with setbacks grows, and you find new strength within yourself. You become an advocate, a cheerleader, a fighter, and a believer in miracles.

All this takes time, however. In those early days in the NICU, Jenn and I felt like we were barely surviving. This cheat sheet shares some of the things I wish someone had told me and my family when we were just beginning our NICU journey. Download two copies, and keep one by your baby's isolette and one at home so you can re-read it whenever you feel powerless as a parent.

This Crib Sheet will tell you:

  • Why the NICU is where your baby belongs right now and what your role is as a mom, dad, or caregiver.
  • How to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the flood of information that comes with prematurity.
  • What to do about the guilt that every preemie parent feels at some point.
  • How to bond with your preemie when you're in the NICU ... and when you aren't.
  • What milestones mean when you're parenting a preemie.
  • One of the most important things you can do to take care of yourself during your NICU journey.

Read and print out the entire Crib Sheet about preemies and the NICU now.

Nick Hall is committed to helping people see opportunity when faced with adversity. Nick's own experiences have shown him that nothing in life is guaranteed. A nearly-fatal heart condition in his youth, the extremely premature births of his twins, the death of his son and subsequent health challenges of his daughter have driven that home. Nick's unique perspective enabled him to see his son and daughter’s prematurity as an opportunity to share what he learned to make a difference for other families. He founded Graham's Foundation in 2009 to provide support for the parents of premature babies. Within two years he created a partnership with Pampers, and together, they have shipped nearly 30,000 care packages to parents of preemies all over the world.

This post is part of the Absolute Beginners editorial series made possible by Pampers and BlogHer. Our advertisers do not produce or approve editorial content.