There are no words to express how happy we all are to be home, safe and sound. Not only do the past three weeks seem like such a blur but it took a lot out of everyone (especially Rochelle) to get home. I am going to give everyone a few tips that helped me get through each and every day visiting Rochelle in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
* Know the hours the nurses work, so you can plan your day based on that. The nurses worked 12 hour shifts and would do report to the next shift about 30 mins before their shift would end and sometimes it would take a good hour to give report depending on the how many patients that nurse had that shift and so I would always stay late and get there early so that Rochelle would never be left alone during shift report (the babies would cry and cry I just wish I could hold all of them during that hour in the morning and a night).
* Know the times the doctors do rounds. Mine always came bright and early in the morning and we were always there waiting to know what the lab results, x ray results (when they were taken), and what the daily plan of care would be and any changes I would like made (to run certain labs, change the rate of the feeding, start a new medication if needed, etc) and the doctors make bedside rounds so that you could always talk to them one on one.
* If you do not understand the any procedure being done on your child, look it up and make sure you compare the benefits vs risks to doing the procedure. I know doctors and nurses may think they know what’s best for your baby but ultimately the parents always know what’s best. (Also any labs that are abnormal or out of range always make sure you understand what that means if it’s high or low and what that could do to your baby–also know what the treatment is going to be to get the lab back to normal range)
* Learn anything and everything you can for taking care of your baby for the hopes that when you get to leave you are fully prepared and ready for anything that may come your way. Make sure you also have a plan set up if something were to go wrong and quick, what steps you would take in getting your child the best help, the fastest.
* Do not trust that when you leave, the nurse will take the best care of your baby, (As many of you know, I am an RN so I don’t trust many nurses easily) and if you feel like your baby is not going to get the care that you would like you should stay with your child as long as you physically can before leaving for a couple of hours for shut-eye before returning.
* Learn what time things are done (when the vitals are taken, when labs are drawn and how long it takes to get those results back, when assessments are done and what the changes are for your baby, etc) it was very important for me to stay on top of as many things as possible. (my Type A personality definitely took over during this whole ordeal)
* LOVE on your baby. NICU babies don’t get held and loved on enough by the staff, the parents are most important people that babies to be able to fight harder every day and do skin to skin as much as possible. Each baby that grows inside of you hears your voice for 9 and 1/2 months and let me tell you, that’s the voice they want to hear at the end of the day. It was so hard for a couple of days when Rochelle was under the Bilirubin light (for her jaundice) and not being able to hold her, because we do 3/4 of the day unless the nurses needed to do something but other than that we loved on her continuously.
* Document everything in a notebook. These are the memories you will never get back and being sleep deprived and low on energy majority of the days, it was so nice to write down all of the important things that happened with Rochelle and document any major changes that occurred.
* Most of all enjoy.every.moment. Your baby is there because he/she needs to be. It’s usually not for an extended amount of time unless your baby is born very early or they need a lot of surgeries. Get used to change as well, because nothing will ever be the same the next day. God protects his children, ALL of them and just know that prayers work wonders and He listens.