Our first cuddle with Victoria and Aurora is unforgettable. Aurora was doing very well in her early days in NICU. Despite being so little, she was such a lovely baby extubated after one day, sucking on the dummy and complaining whenever she did not like something. She had her first cuddle with her daddy, snuggle and comfortable. Next days I had one too. It was a unique feeling having her on my chest, with my hands covering her entire body. I was so happy to have her and sad that she was so little. Victoria instead was a bit poorer, but still beautiful with big eyes and much hair. She was still intubated and having the recession when breathing. We have been worried about her but hoped for the best. She also had a cuddle in the first days, and again, it was a particular moment. Maria, the big sister, could not wait to meet the babies. We were a bit hesitant about bringing her or not to the hospital, but her desire to see them won. Later on, she played with a baby toy at the nursery and had put it in a microwave toy saying that he needs to grow.
Our first two weeks at NICU represented a process of adaptation to the environment, to the many machines, wires and noises that were there. We got used to everything, except to see our babies having painful procedures, such as blood gases, cannulation, inserting long lines or eye tests. In the beginning, I was not able to look until I realised that they need me to be there and hold my hand on them. Aurora used to cry, making quite sounds. Victoria was not able to. I could see the expression on her face and the tears. I always cried for both of them inside me. I kept asking myself how can they take it, what they feel and what they think about the people who use to do those procedures over and over again. However, I knew they were essential to keep them alive.
It is challenging to see your baby tiny, sick, not being able to take care of him and let it in the hospital when who had to leave. It the beginning you feel like you want to move to the hospital and be with your baby 24h a day until the reality hits you and you realise that you have other kids to take care of, that you have to go to work sometimes, and that is not even indicated to be always there. What my husband and I did, was working in a team, sharing the responsibilities, and doing our best when in hospital. I remember one of the moms who already spent much time in NICU, told me that the most important thing I could do is to get to know my babies. This way I would be able to follow their progress, notice any changes that could be a sign of something going wrong and help to prevent it. Despite doing a fantastic job, doctors and nurses will have to change shift, but parents are there every day.
Other advise that we received was to take care of our self and ask for help when needed. It is imperative that parents do not forget they are human beings and try to sleep, eat and drink. Every journey throughout NICU is different. Some babies stay longer, some shorter, and parents need to be with their babies. We stayed in NICU 233 days with Victoria, and 267 with Aurora. In this time, one of us was every day at the hospital. Moreover, when home, the first thing in the morning and the last in the evening, was to call the hospital and ask how are they doing. We used all our physical and psychical resources, and we were not allowed to get unwell.
Help is a critical word in the journey of prematurity. Parents should ask for any help they need. Weather is breastfeeding, language difficulties or psychical support. That is because they should use all their energy to help their baby thrive, not to struggle with any other things. Moreover, people who know parents with premature babies can help them in different ways. Weather is taking care of their other kids, dropping them off or picking up from school, sharing their dinner or just encouraging them. Everything is welcomed and is one worry less to know that you can appeal to somebody when you get stuck. What they should not do, in my opinion, is ask when the baby will come home. Nobody can predict this and asking it all the time makes the parents frustrated.
My husband also has some thought for parents with premature babies, apart from getting involved in their care, to collaborate with hospital staff — also, the most important not to lose their faith in God as there is where the real help comes.
I am very curious how was your first cuddle with your baby, whether he was premature or term baby. Leave a comment with your special moments. Please, make sure your comment is friendly and does not offend anyone.
Thank you for reading!