Thoughts from a NICU Da-Da
My NICU Da-Da journey began last year when my daughter was born almost 11 weeks early. I never imagined that my wife would give birth so soon even though she had no complications throughout her pregnancy.
The number one feeling I felt when my daughter was in the NICU was helpless.
I normally felt hopeful that our daughter would get bigger and get home as soon as possible, which thankfully she did. But the aching feeling in my heart every day and definitely every night was helplessness. I could not control the timeline our daughter could come home. Because I had to work, I could not be with my wife and daughter at the NICU as much as I wanted to.
The one thing I could control during that entire time was myself.
I could control my perspective on everything. I used prayer and a lot of journaling to stay positive. I prioritized self-care, such as eating healthy, getting as much sleep as possible, and drinking lots of water. I talked to friends and co-workers about what I was feeling. Instead of sitting at home thinking about how much I missed our baby being home, I stayed busy doing home projects, like finishing the baby room and organizing everything in our lives for the day when we could bring home our bundle of joy. I made sure my wife had her favorite meals, fruit drinks, and snacks including her favorite lactation cookies (I still buy them for her...she loves them!). I learned as a NICU Da-Da that it’s really the small things that matter. When it was just the three us snuggled up together in the NICU, everything in the world felt ok.
My one word of advice to you is to find one thing in all of the craziness to help you stay grounded. Baby and Mom need you. But most of all you need yourself.
Written by Andre Elliott, Dad of a NICU Grad