Coping With Separation From Your Baby
This is a photo of me and my baby when she was only one day old, Marina was only 4.12 pounds when she was born and was in the NICU for 10 days...a short stay really but still a difficult experience to endure. I found this helpful article and wanted to share in case you have a baby in the NICU now or know someone that does....it is also great to prepare for the unexpected. We had no idea I would go into labor at 32 weeks and was not prepared. Wishing all NICU babies a happy healthy growth and the Mom's and Dad's lots of love and support!!
Being discharged without your baby may feel like the most devastating separation. Even if you knew you were likely to deliver prematurely, you probably didn't envision leaving the hospital with empty arms. Seeing other mothers being discharged with their healthy newborns presents an unbearable cruel contrast with your situation. As Jayna recalls: "This new mom had her baby with her. They were going home together. My baby would have to stay in the hospital for months, fighting for his life."
And so you struggle between these two worlds -- home and the NICU. As the numbness wears off, you may begin to feel obsessed with your baby. This obsession can seem odd since your infant is confined to the hospital and not completely under your care. But although your little one isn't home with you, your obsession is a natural expression of your devotion. Your heart is exactly where it should be -- with your baby.
Tips for Coping with Separation from Your Baby
To cope with being separated from your baby, try any of the following ideas that feel right to you:
- Acknowledge your baby's birth in ways that comfort you. It may help to decorate the nursery; shop for baby clothes, toys, or supplies; or start a photo album or baby book.
- Send out birth announcements. Notify people of your baby's birth, sharing whatever details you choose in order to let them know that this is neither easy nor routine for you. This process also gives you a chance to welcome and show your love for your newborn.
- Write down your observations about your baby: preferences, features, resemblances, expressions.
- Learn more about your baby's delivery. Talk with your partner. Ask the attending nurses and doctors about the details. It may also help to ask why things were done the way they were. This information helps you reclaim memories, satisfies your need to know, and fills in the gaps of your story.
- Tell those who want to listen about the delivery and your baby. Telling your story over and over can be tremendously therapeutic. You can also write your story in a keepsake journal or baby book.
- Place breast pads or a cotton shirt you've slept in for several nights in your baby's incubator. Your scent may be a comforting reminder of your presence to your baby.
- Ask the nurse if you can have something with your baby's scent on it to take home with you. Smelling this item may help you feel close to your baby.
- Record yourself reading a story or poem, singing, or talking, and leave the tape in the NICU with your baby so it can be played at low volume when your baby is fussy.
- Spend as much time as you can or want with your baby. Don't let others discourage you or urge you to take breaks or to "get away" if you want to stay. Also, don't let others make you feel guilty if you do want to take time away.
- Take photographs of your baby and look at them regularly. It is especially important to keep updating the photos as your baby's appearance and condition change.