NICU and Attachment Parenting? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 10-24-2011, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Mamas,

Writing quickly, so I hope I am able to express myself well enough...


My DS was born 6 days ago at 34 weeks 5 days.  He has been in the NICU since.  I feel lucky b/c he's had no breathing problems besides the occasional small h2o dip when eating, but even that seems to have gone away (knock wood).  He was under the phototherapy lights for jaundice, but is through with that and today he graduated to an actual hospital crib!  He even gained some weight.  Unfortunatley he still has a feeding tube in and apparently last night they had to use it twice as he wasn't eating very much. 


I am torn b/c I have a 2 year old DS at home who is having a really hard time.  I suspect he is missing me lots and is just dealing with lots of disruptions to his routine.  He wasn't able to visit me in the hospital as he was sick and developed croup.  I've been home for 2 days now and spending some time at the hospital and some time at home.  We are very, very lucky to have lots of support pple who help care for DS while we are gone.


Anyway, my question is about the whole Attachement Parenting thing and separation from my baby.  I coslept w/ DS1, nursed on cue, wore him in the Moby wrap, etc, etc, etc.  When I compare the first days of DS1's life with the first days of DS2's life... well, there's just no comparison.  DS1 spent his life from day one in loving arms and nursing and DS2 has spent them mostly in an incubator with periods of loving arms.... I feel awful.  Will I be able to make up for it?  Or is this time he and I have lost forever.  I feel so sorry for him and just terrible.  I want to be in the NICU 24/7, but my 2 year old needs me too. 


Please tell me that he can still be a securely attached baby and no permanant damage is being done.  Any been there done that Mamas with reassurances?


Thanks in advance,

NEast Momma

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#2 of 12 Old 10-24-2011, 06:21 PM
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Yes, you can absolutely make up for it!  My first was in the NICU for 6 weeks and was a snuggly, happy, loving baby, amd is now a sweet, confident, and kind 6 year old.  :)  My second was in the NICU for 10 days and is a sweet little 2.5 year old now, with no attachment issues whatsoever.


Hang in there, and just take it day by day.  

A, jammin.gif mama to a boy (2005) and a girl (2009)
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#3 of 12 Old 10-25-2011, 03:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you so much! 

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#4 of 12 Old 10-25-2011, 06:53 AM
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My son was also born at 34w5d, and spent a week in the NICU (with time in the photo tank).  It took some effort, but we were able to exclusively breastfeed after he got home, and we happily nursed for the next 16 months.  We did a lot of kangaroo care when he was tiny, and we coslept when he was a little bigger.  He's now a happy, intelligent, and snuggly 2 year old.  So yes, it can all turn out okay.  :)


To be honest, I still mourn that first week, when I couldn't be holding him and nursing him as much as I wanted.  Especially that first couple of hours after he was born, when I wanted him on my chest but instead wasn't allowed to see him yet.  He came through just fine, though.  This is much harder on you than on anyone else.  Try to remember that even though he's not in your arms, but he's in the safest possible place, being cared for by people who are absolutely dedicated to his health and well-being.  I tried to think of the NICU staff as extended family.  That said, I think I'll miss that first week with him forever.  If you can, try to let yourself feel that loss.  But try to be gentle with yourself, too-- most moms don't end up with the birth they expected, and having a second child is always hard.  I had a second child this summer, and even with him being full term (!), having to divide my time between the two is much, much harder than I expected.  I tell myself that the world is full of happy, well-adjusted children with siblings, so ours should turn out okay, too.  Kids are really, really resilient and adaptable.


Congratulations on your new baby, and I hope your family is all home together soon.

Mom to DS (3) and a new baby!  Geeked to be married to my love love.gif

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#5 of 12 Old 10-25-2011, 07:07 AM
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My DD spent her first week in the NICU, second week in the PICU and third week on the regular peds floor. She is now 14 weeks and we are SUPER bonded although we still have not been able to establish a nursing relationship.


Her first week of life was spent with not much sensory input for a couple of reasons. First, she was on prostaglandins to keep her PDA open and that made her hot and cranky. Imagine a newborn with flu symptoms. She just didn't tolerate being held that much. Secondly, she had multiple lines (ART, UAC and UVC, IV/Hep) and we needed those lines to stay active until her heart surgery at 8 days old. The umbilical lines were especially fragile so I had to be super careful handling her. With all those lines, plus her heart leads, getting her in and out of her isolette required help from the NICU nurses. She was in a pod for very sick babies and so I would sometimes have to wait HOURS before a nurse was available to help me get her out. Then if the pod had to get shut down because one of the other babies crashed, we had to put her back and I had to leave. That was a very tough week for me, especially because I only saw her for about five minutes right after she was born and then not again until she was two days old. She had to be taken to a different hospital so I had to wait until I was discharged before I could see her again.


Once she went to PICU, I joined her at the hospital and didn't leave until she was discharged. Of course, my other kids are a lot older and they were at their mom's for part of that time. Once we got home, she spent the next 7 weeks in my arms for the most part. She's now at the babysitter's during the day but she is in my arms from the time we get home until it's time to leave again the next morning and then all weekend. She takes a lot of her naps in my arms and when she was around 6-8 weeks old, we would spend hours sitting on the couch staring in to each other's eyes. It was a very special time for us. But we were the only ones home. It might be a little more challenging with another little one running around once you get home but with lots of babywearing and bedsharing (if possible) you will get that bond developed!



Annie wife v2.0 to DH and joyfully parenting DSS 20 , DSD 17 , DSD 16 , DSS 14, heart hero DD 4 and DS due 6/2015 . 8/2010
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#6 of 12 Old 10-25-2011, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your beautiful responses!  Hearing your success stories and how well bonded you are to your babies is more helpful than you can ever know.  I also appreciate hearing that it is ok to mourn the loss of this first week.  I think really struck home for me.  I am so happy to hear that your little ones are so securely attached and thriving!



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#7 of 12 Old 10-26-2011, 10:49 AM
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Loving this thread! I'm 31 weeks and was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 29w so there is a good possibility that this babe will be coming early! I'm so sad at the thought of leaving him in the hospital for any amount of time, but I just want him safe!!!

Liz om.gif Lovin' DH partners.gif DS (12) coolshine.gif and forever missing DD angel3.gif (12/02/07) ribbonpb.gif
From the withered tree, a flower blooms~ He's here!!! So crazy in love with my  rainbow1284.gif  boy!!! 12/14/11 luxlove.gif fly-by-nursing1.gif

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#8 of 12 Old 10-26-2011, 11:47 AM
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My DD was born at 32w4d, and spend her first 32 days in the NICU.  During the first few days, she needed a lot of mechanical assistance with breathing, and she received a lot of phototherapy, so we couldn't hold her much.  And then we had our 2.5 yo DS at home (at daycare on weekdays), and he did need care too.  Some weekends I didn't have childcare, and couldn't go to the hospital at all.  It was totally different than the first months of our son's life, when we were both at home, taking care of him and each other, being a very closely connected and self-sufficient family unit.  I was immensely depressed after DD was born - both because of hormones and circumstances - and I really didn't feel bonded to her until later on. 


You do not get this time back.  It will never be your baby's first day, or first week, ever again, but the time you get quickly outweighs the time in the hospital.


My parenting when DD was a baby looked really nothing at all like my parenting when DS was small - she and I both needed different things.  However, two years down the road, I cannot tell that DD is any less enthusiastic about me than DS was at that age, or that I'm any less enthusiastic about her.  My experience of the toddler years is that I get closer to my kids over time.  I'm happy with the closeness I have with DD now, and I look forward to increasing it.

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#9 of 12 Old 10-26-2011, 05:53 PM
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I think its absolutely possible to have a secure attached relationship with your NICU baby.  Honestly, I think NICU babies need it more.  Its traumatic for everyone, especially mom and baby, and the best cure for separation is being together, which is what you'll do when your little one gets home.


My NICU baby is 2.5 now, and there's no doubt that attachment parenting was a success with her.  You'll both be okay soon. hug2.gif  Keep us posted on how he's doing.

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#10 of 12 Old 10-27-2011, 02:46 PM
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My little dude spent his first 45 days in the NICU- I couldn't hold him at all for the first 8 days.  Throughout that time I had the strongest urge to detach him from all of those monitors and just curl up around him on a bed.  That, of course, is exactly what I did when he was finally discharged.  He got the whole AP thing- even though he didn't breast feed until he was 8 weeks old he then kept at it until he was 19 months.  Even though he slept in a hospital bassinet for 45 days he's been sleeping in our family bed now for 2.5 years.  He's a healthy, well-adjusted little guy and we're very, very attached as a family.  His baby sister now sleeps in a co-sleeper next to our bed.


One AP thing that our NICU encouraged was Kangaroo Care - holding your baby skin-to-skin on your chest.  I loved it and it helped me feel bonded even in the hospital.


I know the first weeks are important and seem to go on for so long while you're waiting for discharge but the NICU certainly doesn't determine how bonded your family will be - you do.

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#11 of 12 Old 12-16-2011, 01:15 PM
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Attachment parenting is possible, but I had to make some compromises. DD was born at 34 weeks.


Due to DD's severe reflux issues, wearing her was not possible until she hit about four months. By the time we were able to introduce the Mei Tai, she was not having it! She hates being worn, but still loves to snuggle. Believe me, after spending three months straight of nurse - pump - hold baby upright for 45 minutes so she won't regurgitate everything I just fed her - wash the pump and bottles - sleep when I can - repeat, wearing baby was not doable. My nipples were so sore from pumping and poor latch, that even wearing a t-shirt hurt. Needless to say, I barely left the house until she was about four months old!


She was not able to co-sleep due to how we had to position her. By the time she was beyond the positioning contraptions, she did not want to sleep next to Mom and Dad!


However, we took the essence of AP and applied it as best we could with a child who had special needs which prohibited us from being able to AP 100%.


Love is the most important thing you can give a child. Don't beat yourself up if your preemie's limitations keep you from following AP to a "T."

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.   namaste.gif  ribbonpb.gif  joy.gif
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#12 of 12 Old 12-23-2011, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much.  DS has been home since Nov 1 and I'm happy to report I DO feel completely bonded and attached to him.  And he is certainly attached to me, in every sense of the word.  I wear the kiddo non-stop - he is a velcro baby wanting only to be held or be nursed.  I am happy to oblige.  Despite spending time in the NICU and despite having a 2 year old older brother who demands so much of my attention too, we're attached.


Many, many thanks to all you mamas who responded here.  Your stories TRULY helped me soooooo much!




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