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NICU, Siblings, and Vaccinations

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

So, Im not sure if this is the best place for this, but I had a conversation with the NICU manager today at the hospital where the twins will be if they have to have a NICU stay. First of all, Im really hoping to make it to term and not ever even have to see the NICU, but Im trying to plan for having to be there and not having a total emotional shock when I get there. So, I was scheduling a tour and she made sure to let me know that siblings can be in the NICU if need be. These were her exact words:


Her: "Siblings can come into the NICU for limited visitations if they have been approved by hospital administration." 


Me: "How do we go about getting her approved?"


Her: "Well, we dont even do that until the situation arises, but if the time comes we will have her medical records and vaccination records faxed over as well as a quick check up by one of our nurses before she is allowed in."


Me: "Oh, okay" nervously smiling on the phone.



What does this mean? Does it mean that if she isnt fully up to date she wont be able to come in and see her sisters? If I already have kids in the NICU, Im not sure I can deal with the stress of being told that I cant have my kiddo with me too. She is getting up to date, but there are going to be vaccines she has never even had because we delayed until she was two. I'm going to ask my pediatrician about what she thinks it means, but until then, what are your opinions?

post #2 of 14

That's kind of weird, I think.  My ds was in the NICU and they allowed the grandparents a single, short visit each (and actually, I think they allowed dh's brother & SIL) but nobody even had a check-up and this was a higher level NICU (I forget the level, but it was for the highest level of critical care) and it was January (read: flu season).


I would definitely ask your ped, and if the ped can't shed light, I would actually call the hospital and be very specific about your situation and how it would play out if there was a problem.  If they say they'll deal with it at the time, tell them you are asking for their policy (and for me, if the "policy" is favorable to you, I would ask where a staff member could reference that policy in the middle of the night on the weekend if they were not "in the know").


But that's me... redface.gif

post #3 of 14

Wow, that seems pretty strict to me.  My NICU didn't allow child siblings when my DD was there because it was at the beginning of the H1N1 hysteria, but they lifted that restriction just before DD got released, and DS was allowed to visit with no criteria.


While it is so hard to have a baby in the NICU, having a young child there to supervise is incredibly challenging.  I completely understand wanting your daughter to meet her sisters, but you're probably not going to want her to spend any significant amount of time in there.  The monitors beeping and nurses rushing around is pretty frightening for a small child (and for parents!).  When I was on bedrest in the hospital, DS always just wanted to press buttons and play with wires while he visited.  He wasn't big enough to hold the baby when she was in the NICU, so he just looked at her for a few minutes.


Which was not what you were asking, LOL - but in your situation, I would probably want to call the hospital administration and double check the policy.  It may not be an issue of needing to be 100% up to date on vaxes as it is that they just want a health record on file, but it's definitely worth inquiring about.

post #4 of 14

I am not sure there is anything you can do.


If she is not going to be up-to-date, she is not going to be up to date, you know?


I would ask for a copy of  the written policy on siblings in the NICU ahead of time.

post #5 of 14
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

I am not sure there is anything you can do.


If she is not going to be up-to-date, she is not going to be up to date, you know?


I would ask for a copy of  the written policy on siblings in the NICU ahead of time.

I can't offer any helpful advice on how to deal with the NICU.

But I'd like to share my experience from having been in the PICU.

You may want to consider having your older daughter go about her normal routine with her father or grandparents or babysitter, while you stay in the hospital with the twins for as long as they need to be there (hopefully, not at all!).


As pointed out above, that would add a lot of stress, not only for you, but for your daughter. Believe it or not, she may actually do better at home, in familiar and non-stressful surroundings, especially if daddy or grandparents can be there.


You will not only be recovering from childbirth, possibly a C-section, but you will likely be trying to either breastfeed or pump milk (not easy under stress), and being with the twins as much as possible.


My little one was 2 when he had to be in the PICU, and I only left his side when the nurses kicked me out for 30 minutes twice a day for the shift change/report. 


Most children's hospitals will arrange for the mother of a newborn to be able to spend as many nights at the hospital as needed.  The nurses gave me scrubs to wear (until my hubby could bring me some clothes), and towels and baby soap to use in the shower. And they will bring you yummy hospital food.puke.gif


I know it seems unthinkable to leave your older one, but it will seem even more unthinkable to leave your twins.


There is also the issue of germs--not necessarily what your older child is bringing in, but what she might be exposed to in the hospital.  I'd think she would be far more likely to stay healthy if she didn't set foot in the hospital.


Just my opinion, and I haven't got any studies to back it up!

post #6 of 14

My son was in the NICU during flu season also and for part of the time siblings were allowed and later on when we had a large outbreak in the area they made us fill out a questionnaire about my daughter's health and have her temp taken every time she visited.  


I agree with the other poster who said that you aren't going to want to have your older child in the NICU all the time.  My daughter is very well behaved, but there's only so long a little girl will sit still quietly.  I was not able to focus on my son because I was trying to keep my daughter entertained.  It was also incredibly hard on her to leave her brother in the hospital.  There were many nights where she was cried hysterically about leaving him.  It was rough on everyone.  We got to the point where we would only take her in to visit him on the weekends and it was much better for everyone involved. 

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. I am going to ask my ped about it, and hopefully she can give me some insight on hospital policy. If not, then Ill have to request written policy when I go for my tour. I really want to know what is going to happen in the event that we go there, I dont want to just wait and find out. Im trying to lessen my anxieties all around, and this is just one Id like to get off my plate. 


My mom lives nearby the hospital, as well as DH's mom, so I imagine that we will have plenty of childcare and she wont be hanging out in the NICU very much. But, for a kid who had her brother disappear into thin air one day, DH and I have decided that it's really important that there not be other siblings that she just believes exists somewhere that she cant actually see. Hopefully, all goes well, and we wont have to use the NICU at all, but if I do I want DD to be able to see her sisters when they are born, not just when the come home. Basically, I dont want her to see that Im not pregnant anymore and there not be a result that she can visualize. 

post #8 of 14

My thoughts and prayers are with you--best of luck, whatever you decide!

post #9 of 14

I would not worry too terribly much about the vaccines your daughter hasn't had because you started vaxing after she was two.  Nor would I necessarily expect a written policy - decisions on letting little kids into the NICU are going to be made very much on the ground and at the moment, and will depend (among other things) on what kind of flu season you're having, and whether there have been recent, local outbreaks of VPD.  So if it's a quiet winter with a mild flu, they'll wave her on in so long as she shows no signs of being sick, but if there's a local outbreak of measles, or flu-associated infant deaths, they'll be much more cautious. 


It makes total sense that you want your daughter to be able to visit the NICU as much as possible, but I'd plan on short, frequent visits, with another adult to take her off while you stay. 

post #10 of 14

I have seen 2 NICU's.  Both had a door leading to the ward.  Each NICU room had huge glass windows.  Even if she cannot get in the room, you might be able to hold up the babies at the window for her to see.  I think the isolettes wheel as well.  The 2 NICU's wards I have been on had family rooms.  I imagine DD would be allowed in those.  If a twin/the twins are portable, you might be able to bring the twins to her if she is not allowed in the room.


Lastly (and I am sure you thought of this) but video could help (or it could make her sad and anxious - whoever is watching her could play it by ear).  You could create a daily video journal for her from the twin room - no, she cannot see the babies in person, but she will still be able to see them on video.


 At almost 3 she might be able to understand that  kids are not always allowed in the NICU.  


I think there is a NICU section on mothering - they may be able to advise as well.



Sticky baby vibes…..sticky.gif

post #11 of 14

Our hospital has a no-children (under 16) policy during the Winter months, unless they have special permission AND wear mask.  Adults have to wear masks during visiting hours.


When I had ds (not our local hospital, normal birth and he was in my room the entire time), there was a family visiting some other lady the had delivered the same day.  Her four kids were visiting and two of them were obviously sick.  It annoyed me to no end to hear them sneezing and hacking (and, even more annoying, the staff not doing a damn thing about it).


Honestly, if I had a baby in NICU and saw someone's toddler visiting there, I would be angry.  We don't vax, at all, and I would certainly never bring my child (even if he/she was vaxxed) into the NICU, no matter the circumstances.


I agree with the other poster about making a video diary or using Skype (I'm sure the hospital can help with this).


I'm sorry for your previous loss.

post #12 of 14

My first was in the NICU for 10 days, and then (5 years ago in a hospital in MA) no kids were allowed in, and only 1 visitor at a time. I was told that preemie babies get really overstimulated, so it's best to not have too many people around.


 I know it's upsetting to not know exactly what's going to happen, but my feeling would be to just play it by ear - a quick visit in if the nurses allow it, but otherwise let it go (holding babies up to window sounded like a great idea to me).


Fingers crossed you won't be in there for long (or at all). Friend I know who had twins made it fine recently. :)


Best of luck.  

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

I saw my ped yesterday and I asked her about the situation. She said that DD would be up to date by then, but will have missed some vaccines. She said that those vaccines wont matter (namely, rotavirus and HIB) because we didnt vax during the time frame, but missing those vaccinations isnt going to keep her from getting in. She will be up to date on the vaccinations that are important for her to have as an almost three year old. shrug.gif  She also said that she's pretty sure that the hospital doesnt have any written policy other than that the NICU manager has the right to refuse entrance to anyone he or she deems not okay to be there. 

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to update this thread. I went and toured our NICU today (still fingers crossed that Ill never have to go back there) and when I asked about sibling visits and the rules regarding that, they told me that the NICU is closed to sibling visits from October- March/April because of RSV. 


So there we have it- no visits from Ada to the NICU if we have to go there. Oh well, Skype it is. 

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