How do you cope with the separation of a premmie baby?

Nicole - posted on 11/20/2009 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I gave birth last saturday (emergency ceasar) to a little girl at 33+5 weeks. I can only travel once a day to see her as i have another son at home. I love the time i spend with her and don't want to leave but she is not strong enough to home just yet. I am on the roller coaster of expressing milk which gets me down. And was wondering how other mums of premmies handled the guilt and frustration of not having their newborn at home.

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YOU ARE NOT ALONE! That is the beauty of being a mother to a preterm baby. One blessing is that she is here and will be home with you soon. My oldest daughter (13) gave me the best words of wisdom I have heard in a long time. God does not give you strength, he gives you opportunities to be STRONG! I truly and faithfully believe that. I am trying to stay pregnant everyday (I am 27 weeks and 4 days) and I too have had preterm labor with all of my children. I realized I wasn't alone when I heard of how many other moms go thru this. Staying positive for your little one and you children at home is what moms do best. I know soon enough you and your family will enjoy you baby together at home. :)

Amanda - posted on 11/21/2009

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All you can do is hold her when you can, tell her you love her and be prepared to take her home.
My first baby girl was in nicu for one week. It was a week of hell. I felt so responsible. I finally realized there was nothing I could have done different. It is now three years later and those days are hard to remember.

Dana - posted on 11/21/2009

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Oh, and when the nurses and doctors say that one day she won't be ready to come home but the next day she will, that is exactly how it happens. I was hopeless, like it would never end, we'd wait to hear the results or decision each day and I was always disappointed he wasn't coming home. One day they had no clue when the very next day they gave me the okay.

Dana - posted on 11/21/2009

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Nicole, my son was born at 34 wks but, I got to stay in the hospital for the 2wks he was in there. Although I could be with him everyday, I still felt guilty not having him home, where we could start our new life together. My husband was driving an hour to work and then back each day and staying in the hospital too. Since my son couldn't latch on to me or stay awake long enough for a bottle, he had a NG tube. My husband would get up with me to feed him every two hours while I pumped to keep my supply up. So I had guilt all around. You just have to try and let go what you can and keep moving on. Like other women have said, GET REST!! :) Although the nurses told us to rest and they would feed him, we did not feel right doing so and I should have. lol You do have a rare opportunity to rest up, take care of yourself and let yourself heal (I had a C-section also). Your daughter will be home before you know it and all those guilty feelings will melt away! :) Good luck and like Diana said, check out the Preemie Community, I'd give the link but for some reason it won't let me search for it right now.

[deleted account]

Hi Nicole,
I am sorry to answer to your post by explaining my case first but I can really sympathize since the exact same thing happened to me. My son was born at 34 1/2 weeks and was not feeding well enough on his own to come home at the same time as me. The day I left the hospital I felt like the worst mother in the whole world abandoning my son at the hospital BUT after crying myself to sleep for several nights I learned to accept that it was better for him to be at the Hospital receiving the level of care that I would not be able to provide for him...with the Apnea machines, feeding tubes down his throat, etc.
Nicole, now you are seeing it as a stressful situation: having to pump and run to see her at the hospital and spend time with your son at home, and, and, and...Instead, try to look at it this way (and don't be so hard on yourself). Look at it as the last opportunity to spend "alone" time with your son (since once the baby comes home his time with you will have to be shared) and also take the time to rest and heal properly from your c-section. Your princess will be home when you least expect it and this will all be in the past and forgotten...enjoy the moment, know that she is at the Hospital because it is where she is best cared for according to her situation!!
Lots of luck and hope she comes home soon :)

Andrea - posted on 11/21/2009

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My son was 3 1/2 weeks early.. He was alright besides he couldn't feed right.. Spent four days in nicu... Then my Daughter was born and 36 weeks and had Gastroschisis, was 3lbs 8oz, Which was small for a baby born at that gestation, we spent 7 weeks in the NICU, Had surgery to place Silo on right after birth, then had surgery when she was 7 days old.. Then I got to gold her for the first time when she was 8 days old.. They always tell me that she was in a hurry to come home.. She came home with a little open spot on her belly.. She is now 7 months old not adjusted.. she will be 8 month on the 30th... How is your little guy doing? It is a scarey thing to go through... It was a day by day thing when i was prego and after i had her.. I went in to labor at 32 weeks got it stopped and placed on bed rest which was hard with a 15 month old at home... I live 2 1/2 hours from where I had my daughter so, I stayed with family and then they have Family rooms where i was so my son, my parents and myself went and stayed with her.. But we could only afford to do that for so long.. So on April 23, 09 I had to leave her there by herself.. But i call 4 times aday Right away in morning, Afternoon, Night time, then once around 2:00A.M. We went to see her every 2 days.. It was hard but i am greatful to know that the nurses look at these little babies as there own and care for then as we would do.. Trust me I spent alot of time when my son was sleeping in with my daughter.. It is great to have a great support team standing next to u... The more you can be there the better helps heal baby faster.. I also was her milk, was hard but pictures help alot.. She wasn't able to eat for the first month of life.. So to look at it in a good way i had alot on hand for her... How is your little one doing? Take Care..

Sharon - posted on 11/21/2009

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Its hard.

You think about the posibility of leaving your sick infant in the hospital but you don't/can't really prepare for it.

Find someone to watch your son, have your husband take paternity leave for the next couple of weeks, talk to the people in your church ask for help.

I couldn't drive afterwards and had to ask everyone for help in getting to the hospital to see my son.

You need to spend as much time with the preemie as you can. Being nurtured by her mom will help her get stronger faster.

Theresa - posted on 11/21/2009

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First - take pictures of your new baby and keep them close. Share them with your other child and talk about bringing baby home. Looking at pictures helps while you pump and above all, your baby is where they need to be to get stronger to come home healthy and to keep growing. Take a small blanket with you if the hospital will allow to hold her with so that you can actually smell her when you aren't with her (that new baby smell) can really help. God bless you. May you both be home together soon.

Dr.shweta - posted on 11/21/2009

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dear nicole, you are such a braveheart.please remain positive which is difficult to remain as you are also in postnatal phase.please take care of your health too.you will have to tend to her once your sweetie is home.she has the best care in the hospital.your son needs your love and care,which only you can give.my daughter was a premmie too. i went into postnatal depression.took me 2yrs to come out of it.my younger sis saw me and vowed to be strong come what may and she passed few hurdles that came her way with flying colours.only due to positive thinking.cry if you like(not infront of your son).it will lighten you.gear up for the joyous day when she will come home...soon
hats off to you dear and my prayers are with you.take care and godspeed.

Delaney - posted on 11/21/2009

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It gets better! keep looking forward to that next "milestone" she will be home sooner than you know it, she wont be in the NICU forever, soon enough she will be home.i felt bad when i couldnt be there with my daughter every second but i was pumping too and it didnt allow me to be with her all day. Your doing everything you can. she will be home soon!

[deleted account]

I tried to stay busy. My son was in the NICU for 5 weeks, as he was born at 32 weeks due to PreE. I stayed busy getting things ready for him to come home, and when I went to see him I would read to him, sing to him, and once he was able to eat from a bottle I would feed him. For me, it worked best to express sitting in my living room in front of the TV so I didn't have to think about how long it was taking or be isolated. For some women I've heard it's actually better if they go to a room on their own with some music and a picture of their child. It just depends on what works best for you. But, in general, try to stay busy and try to stay positive. Keep yourself motivated by knowing that she will be home very soon. And while you're in the NICU with her, make sure you get lots of skin to skin contact, as it will help you bond and stimulate milk production. Good luck-and if no one has pointed you there yet, the try joining "Moms of Preemies." I've gotten a lot of support and useful info there from other moms with preemie babies. It really is a whole new ball game. I hope you guys are all together soon!

Lisa - posted on 11/21/2009

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keep your self busy but at the same time rest is very important loook for someone to comein and watch your older one and you get some sleeep the hormones willbe making you feel this way also too keep your liquids up and sunlight!! take time for your self I have twins theywere premmies also and this too shall pass! God loves you faithful mother and all! No guilt you will have her home in time prepare while she is gone! and call the hosptal and ck up onher if that makes you feel better keep the lines open~and BTW sleep! cus that is all she is doing and both of you will heal in time

Tara - posted on 11/21/2009

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Hi Nicole,

I had both my children early, My first son at 34 weeks and my second at 36 weeks they both stayed in hospital for almost 2 weeks. I found it harder with my 2nd to come home and leave him as i was so sure that he would come on time and come home with me but i had the same problems with my 2nd as i had with my 1st.

As hard as it was for me to leave i knew it was for the best for them to stay in and be cared for by professionals. I cried the day i had to leave my 1st in the hospital but then i realised that they are so young and sleep most of the time and wouldnt even know i was gone .. i certainly made up for it when they arrived home with lots of cuddles!!

I passed the time when my 2nd son was in hospital by spending some qulity time with my other son and getting him ready for his brother to come home.

I hope this helps ..

Tara :)

Amy - posted on 11/21/2009

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My son was born at 34 weeks and had to stay in SCBU for 2 weeks. It was very tough and I suffered badly with post natal depression. My advice to you is simple, force yourself to think positively. I know this seems impossible at the moment but she will be home soon. I cried every time they said he couldn't come home but the day they said yes he can was the greatest day of my life.
Take advantage of your time away from her, make the house totally ready for her and RELAX, get as much sleep as you can because as soon as she's home you won't be getting much. As for expressing, you remember you are doing it for the best possible reason, to help your daughter.
There is nothing wrong with going to see your doctor and having a chat about how you feel, this really helped me. And you certainly have no reason to feel guilty, it is not your fault she has to be in hospital. Remember, you have another child who needs his Mummy too, you are doing the best thing you can and have no reason at all to beat yourself up over it.
Above all keep your chin up, you are doing a fantastic job and this is just a short term thing, you will have her home with you before you know it x

[deleted account]

it is so tough going back and fourth to the hospital, and expressing. An emotional roller coaster it is. Ava wasn't premmie, but very small just 5lbs. I just kept reassuring myself that she was where she had to be, and eventually you will be able to have her at home. Try and get as much rest as you can, whilst she is still in hospital. You don't want to be too tired to enjoy the special time of bringing her home. Hopefully she will join you very soon. It's a tough time, try to look forward to her being home with you soon. My thoughts are with you xo

Iysha - posted on 11/21/2009

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My daughter was in the NICU for 17 days until we were finally able to take her home. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks before she was born. I was dying to get out of there and was sent home 4 days before my labor started again, even though i was taking meds to keep me from going into labor. After my daughter was born, I felt so guilty for wanting to get out of there so fast, I thought that if I would have stayed there longer, she could have been able to come home with me. She was in the NICU for a feeding problem...I was there every day from 8am to at least 1pm, most of the time it was until 6pm. I cried nearly every morning before seeing her and nearly every time on the car ride home and sometimes while I was there and definately every night. I can honestly say i have never experienced a feeling worse than not having my daughter with me. But, that is ok, she came home and it was totally unexpected...from one day to the next she made a huge recovery...we weren't prepared and had to run out to buy a car seat =]
I know that I will never take anything my daughter does for granted, everything about her amazes me and I love her so much. I try to spend as much time as I possibly can playing with her and listening to her sounds as she eats and laughs and i don't even mind that her first bath was in the hospital, that I wasn't the first one to feed her or even that those first 16 nights were not spent by my side... I have my whole life to enjoy her. Just know that your daughter will come home and you don't need to breastfeed... I barely did and I am grateful for formula. Without it, my daughter would not be here with me...I didn't get much milk and she could barely eat from a bottle.

Sarah - posted on 11/21/2009

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My Pearl was born at 31+6.

I took lots of digital pictures and had my computer screensaver set up as a slide show of my Pearl. I would watch it while I pumped. That helped bunches.

I also had a hands-free "bra" for pumping (breast expressions brand, I think). Since I knit, I would also knit things for her while I pumped. She had the cutest hats in the NICU, hands down!

Also, feel free to call the NICU often to talk with her nurse about how she is doing.

If you have a church family or other support group, I would also ask if there are women who would be willing to pinch in for you at home so that you could be at the hospital more. Some may even be willing to help with transportation for you if you aren't allowed to drive yet due to pain meds, recovery, etc. Do not be afraid to ask for and accept help if it is available. People often have no idea what it means for have a preemie in the hospital. I know I sure didn't until it happened to us.

Having a child is an emotional roller coaster anyway. The whole preemie/NICU/separation thing just adds to it. Keep at it. It is hard work. Mommies are supposed to be able to be with their babies! I understand completely. And good for you for pumping for her.

Do try to get the hospital to start working on breastfeeding as soon as she is able. And do stick with moving toward 100% breastfeeding. Pearl and I needed a few follow-up lactation consultations to get there once we were home together, but we finally made it. It is so worth it! (But a darn lot of work.)

Eileen - posted on 11/21/2009

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You just have to take it day by day. I had my son almost 10 weeks early. Weighing 3 lbs 4 ozs. Like you i had children at home. I was lucky in that my mom really helped. I would be at home all day then go spend my nights with him. U do feel guilty for leaving the children at home then the new baby all alone in the hospital. But time will go faster than u think and she will be at home with you and her brother. Then all of u can be together it makes it much easier not having to stretch urself in 5 different places. BTW my premmie is almost 6 months now so if there is any questions or u just need to talk let me know. I know how scary it can be especially if u have never had a premature birth.

Amber - posted on 11/20/2009

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good luck with it all, i can only say that keeping in mind the positive things is the greatest thing for you to do because it means you appreciate that she is here and have hope that very soon she will be home. Dont feel bad, feel happy! Tell yourself you are so happy she is in your life. Then even if it isnt the way u expected it to be.. keeping positive will prove that no matter what way thing work out, she is your new baby. Yours! :-) Cheer up

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