Mrs. Blue had a great post a while ago on Parenting in the NICU. I would add these suggestions if you’re staring down the barrel of a long stay, either due to having a LO with an illness or injury, or an early preemie. D spent 65 days (mostly) in one NICU, was home for 25 days, and then spent 63 days (mostly) in a different NICU, so these tips are a culmination of long and varied experiences!
- Allow yourself time to grieve. Like Mrs. Blue said, it’s a hard place to do it since there are families with angel babies and other really tough situations. But, I think it’s fair to allow yourself a few moments, or a few days, to just be sad. Rely on your partner and your support system.
- Find your zen. A good friend of mine always reminds me that you have circles of concern, circles of influence, and circles of control. It’s much better to focus your attention on what you can influence and control (like, making medical decisions when faced with discreet options, or getting the doctors to explain something fully to you) instead of worrying about what the future holds. Obviously, this is very hard, and I’ve found I need a good pity party first, but then you have to pick up the pieces and move on, one foot in front of the other.
I went through these two steps many times, after each new hurdle in the road or new diagnosis. For example, I lost it and sobbed in front of doctors and nurses when they told me that D could no longer have breastmilk, since I was a pumping machine and had a fantastic supply! But in the next few days, I had a plan for weaning from the pump, and tried to focus on his improving condition on the formula.