These tips were kindly put together by Paul & Carol McEnroe, parents to baby Ruth born at 23 weeks in April 2016. (Ruth & Amy were in Rotunda NICU together) Paul & Carol were not living in Dublin and had a young child at home making it all the more stressful.
- Use the offers of help from family and friends. We would have been lost without our wonderful families. They took care of our son while we were with Ruth.
- If you have family or friends in Dublin meet with them – even if it’s just a quick coffee it can be a welcome distraction.
- Establish a routine (or as close to one as you can). This is so important when you have work to go to and other children to care for. My husband worked in Dublin so this was convenient for us. We tried to ensure to get home each weekend to our son. While I was home I spent quality time with my son and tried to be fully present with him as he was along with us on this journey too. As the time moved on and the really intense period seemed to be lifting I tried to stay at home for an extra day.
- Remember that you cannot split yourself in 2. Please do not let guilt eat you up.
- If you cannot be in the NICU as you are with your other children, pick out times in the day to ring the nurses to check in and feel a bit more connected. I always let the nurses know when I wasn’t going to be in the NICU (so they knew that they’d need to use the breastmilk in the freezer).
- Write down your questions and ask them. Don’t leave wondering about something.
- Every baby is different and while these children share a traumatic start to life their journeys are not the same. We were incredibly fortunate and blessed with Ruth.
- Communication – to ensure that our families were up to date I set up a group message to send photos and regular news. This kept everyone involved and also helped me too as I didn’t need to have the same conversation several times.
- Accommodation – you should speak with the social worker as she can advise you on options.
- Speak with the other parents – I found great support from the other mammies, especially good company when expressing milk!
- If you have to eat out try to get to know some reasonable places (check out ‘Baby Amyazing’s list of places to go)
- Rent a hospital grade pump! So much easier and less time consuming (especially when you have another child looking for your attention)
- Telling your children about their brother/sister – we hadn’t told our son that I was pregnant. We brought him a little gift from his sister and showed him photos/ videos. I explained that we couldn’t take her home yet as the Doctors wanted her to grow more. I told him her incubator was like a greenhouse helping our little flower to grow.
- Most importantly take the journey one step at a time. Your little one will dictate the pace as they know best! Your job is to be their number one fan giving constant love and hope.
Clcik here to read Paul & Carol’s journey with baby Ruth
For more NICU parent to parent survival tips click here