If you could plan ahead for your NICU stay... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-23-2009, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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What would you want to know or have packed and ready?

I am currently 29 weeks pg on bedrest. Baby was found to have a duodenal atresia, where nothing gets through the intestine. Because of this the amniotic fluid level is very high and will likely cause preterm labor and delivery. Within 24-48 hours of birth baby will have to have surgery to repair the atresia. We met with the surgeon and my peri yesterday. They both think an at least 3 week NICU stay should be expected. The plan is to deliver at Children's Hospital/Froedtert in Milwaukee and baby will be in the NICU there, this is just over an hour from our home. There is a Ronald McDonald house across the street that we will try to avail ourselves of.

My DH has less than two weeks paid vacation, can take time off unpaid. However, the bedrest is killing us financially as I usually work half time and am not getting all that income, never mind the medical bills (even with fairly good insurance!!!).

My sister did a 5 week NICU stay with her babe last year, so I'm somewhat familiar with the workings of NICU at the same place we will be. I am concerned about baby and NICU obviously. But I am also concerned about how to handle my 4 year old DS during that time. He is behind verbally. He will be starting 4K in September and get ST there also. And the NICU recently changed there rules that siblings are not allowed due to h1n1 (what a crock! For years they weren't that tight with regular flu and stuff) DS is a seeing is believing kinda guy so I'm going to push that one way or another DS can see new babe (whether through a window or pushing the isolette out into the hall, whatever).

Since I could theoretically deliver anyday, I have a list of things for DH to pick up at Target (breast pads, lanolin, maybe some snacky type stuff, etc). I want to have a suitcase packed to go, so all we have to throw in are some clothes.


JoAnn Married almost 12 years to DH Chris.  DS1 01/05 DS2 09/09 DS3 05/12.

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#2 of 5 Old 07-23-2009, 05:11 PM
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I would have reading materials and good hand lotion on hand. Washing up all the time is hell on the hands! Your baby won't need clothes at least at first, but will probably be wrapped up in blankets, so you might like some cute tiny baby blankets instead of the institutional ones. Read up on kangaroo care. Get your son some books on preemies. There are several on Amazon that are written for kids your son's age. Have you lined up a hospital grade breast pump? Your new baby won't be taking large amounts of milk, at least at first, and it would be a shame to waste any. Besides, with a little one at home, you may not be able to be at the hospital for all the feedings, so you'll want to make sure that there is milk there. I hope your son will be able to see his new sibling at the NICU, but I can see their stance on keeping at siblings. Little kids are germ factories as it is, and if there is anything new they could be carrying... I have read that many NICUs do tighten up visiting during regular flu season, so it makes sense that Children's would do the same for h1n1. Those who have died from h1n1 have had underlying health issues, and just by virtue of being born so early, your little one will have health issues. It varies by degree, but at this gestational age, there will be something (otherwise, they'd send him home right away). Even 'simple' colds can be life threatening to preemies. It may seem draconian now, but when your little one gets here, and has to recover from surgery so soon after birth, it will make sense then. How is Children's NICU set up? Is it individual rooms, or are there many babies in one large room? Frankly, that would make a huge difference in how far you want to push the visit issue. If there are many babies in one room, the NICU will have to be stricter than they would otherwise. You'd want them to be, frankly. You don't know what the older siblings of the baby 10 feet away from yours have been into. On the other hand, if each baby has his/her own room, your nurses may be willing/able to bend the rules for you.

What special plans have you got in place for your older son? Special gifts "from the baby"? Maybe someone can take him shopping to pick out some things for his new sibling? Perhaps he can be taken somewhere while you are in the NICU (if it was my 4 year old son, trips to see tractors or trains would be what I would look for.) - any thing the baby can not do. You want to drive home the point that there are benefits to being to the big kid now.

Will your son be at RMH with you? We have used the one in Madison, so I know how they work. There will be toys and movies for your 4 year old to use. There may (not always available) even be toys he can keep. Does yours have a playground? There will be a wide variety of homemade foods available and, while they can not babysit, will probably be lots of grandmotherly volunteers who will absolutely love to chat up your son about being a big brother.

FWIW, if you really *were* to go into labor anytime soon, you will probably be looking at a minimum of a 6 week stay. It dose sometimes happen sooner, but it is the rare baby who is able to go home before 35 weeks gestational age, and yours will have to recover from surgery, which is going to slow things down initially.

I hope this helps, and I hope you get to stay on bedrest a long time!


Paula - wife to Mike, mom to Zoey and Zander
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#3 of 5 Old 07-23-2009, 05:40 PM
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We were in a similar situation last year. I was on hospital bedrest dealing with preterm labor due to too much amniotic fluid. My water broke at 29 weeks and our son was born at 31. I was on bedrest for a total of 5 months, the last month in the hospital.

We had two other children, a 1 1/2 year old and a 4 year old. The whole experience was hard on our children, so I would think about what you can set up for him. We had family in the area who were able to help with our kids. My parents took our boys 3-4 days out of the week, my husband's parents took them 1-2 days a week and my husband took them on the weekend. They came to visit me while I was on bedrest in the hospital. The hospital did many things to make them feel welcome, from setting up a little table with art supplies in my room to bringing them special snacks and letting them take bubble baths in my jetted tub (I couldn't get in, but they could!).

After the baby was born, we were in a NICU where our son had a private room. Our children were able to visit, but only when they were 100% healthy and when they had scrubbed up. I think it would be very hard for our 4 year old to have not seen his baby brother. I wonder if you could at least arrange for a visit before the baby goes into surgery? Our NICU was very family friendly and allowed healthy siblings to visit as well as provided a family/play room with books, toys, movies.

I would prepare practically for the hospital too. Chapstick and hand lotion are really important, as are whatever else you would want to be comfortable - a robe for kangaroo care, nursing tops, slippers or soft socks, reading materials, a laptop, etc.

While our son was in the NICU, we eventually had me stay in the hospital almost around the clock. In the last weeks before he came home (he was there 1 month), I was breastfeeding 6 out of every 8 feedings. I would use the longer window between feedings when Zeph had a bottle to do things with our other kids. Christmas shopping, holiday meals, meals out together, etc. We also found time for my husband to have time together.

You will make it through this. You will have the strength and the love to be the mama your family needs in this time. It will be hard, but you will figure out what is best for your family. I would anticipate that the hardest time for your family may be several months after the baby is home. For us, it was maybe 3-4 months after Zeph was born that the emotions of the whole preterm birth and nicu experience hit me.

Ok, baby crying...
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#4 of 5 Old 07-23-2009, 05:53 PM
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Do you have any friends who are breastfeeding? If lo is born very early, he probably won't be able to nurse directly from you. Of course, you'll pump to start bringing your milk in, but if he needs more food than you can pump at first, could you ask a friend for a couple bottles worth, so they don't have to give him formula? If you bring it refrigerated, it can last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

This is something I wish I'd had, even though we weren't in the NICU. My ds didn't have a wet diaper after 24 hours and they talked me into giving formula. It ended up being kind of a snow-balling thing and next time, I want to have several ounces of bmilk with me if I need it next time around. If not, great, but nice to have on hand.

Married to my best friend for 9 years. Loving being at home with my busy boy. Praying for a vbac.gif next time around!
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#5 of 5 Old 07-23-2009, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the suggestions and thoughts!! Baby won't be able to take anything by mouth for 7-14 days, so will be fed via TPN (PICC line IV food) for that time. I'm starting to leak a little already so I am hopeful that by the time baby can eat I'll have some milk to give!! I don't know anyone else due around the same time otherwise.

Babies at this NICU are in individual pods, so I'm going to see what we can do to have DS see baby at some point (provided that he is healthy of course). I do understand that little preemies have a harder time with any infection. I'm a little frustrated with the whole freaking out about h1n1 when it hasn't proven to be anywhere near as deadly as the regular flu bug.

I'll look up some books for DS and I need to find a really nice, spoil me hand lotion for myself

JoAnn Married almost 12 years to DH Chris.  DS1 01/05 DS2 09/09 DS3 05/12.

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