My NICCU baby, Londyn Hope, is turning 5 years old this month. That fact really gets my head spinning. How is she 5 already!?! Time you are a thief! However, I thought this would be a perfect time to put together my favorite things to have and use during your baby’s NICCU(neonatal intensive critical care unit)/ NICU(neonatal intensive care unit) stay. This is my top 11 things for making the best of the NICCU/NICU. These are just the necessities, they are not in any particular order.
1. Phone or Camera
This one is pretty obvious, but you are going to want to take pictures of everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Even though the NICU life is very draining and there can be many ups and downs, you’ll want those photos and memories. This is your baby’s story…part of what makes them so special. So take a million pictures and videos. Don’t forget to take pictures of the harder moments as well. Trust me, you’ll want them later. Your mind will be on overload of info, having photos will help take you back to a time that you were also strong enough to go through.
2. Warm sweater
The NICU can get a bit chilly sometimes, if you are there all day. I spent most of my day just sitting and holding Londyn. By the time I left it would be 3 a.m. The only reason I would leave is because I didn’t want to fall asleep holding her in a chair.
3. Comfy pants: sweats or yoga pants
Since you will be spending the majority of the day sitting down, the last thing you want is a jeans button bugging you. I happened to have had a C-section so luckily I was already in sweats. I did not know how grateful I was to be wearing them right away.
4. iPad or Tablet
Basically you’ll want this for movie making. Or watching movies. Hospitals have free wifi for patients and visitors. This I convenient because to me there wasn’t anything more relaxing than kicking back with my baby sleeping on my chest and watching a heart warming show. Sounds pretty perfect right about now.
I mentioned the movie making app because while you are sitting there you can make a wonderful movie slideshow with the hundreds of photos you’ve been taking. I did it and I’m so glad I have that video now. It makes me teary eyed watching it now…happy tears.
5. A Boppy
This was THE BEST thing I had in the NICCU. Total lifesaver! I am aware that there are several versions of pillows similar to the Boppy, but trust me…Boppy is the best! (I will post shortly the pros and cons of the others since I bought them all). The Boppy pillow allows you to be super comfortable in the chair and truly enjoy your baby. It assists you enough so you can have a free hand if needed and your sweet babe is safe and cozy next to you. Aahh-mazing!
6. Snap front onsies and T-shirts
In the NICU it is highly likely that your baby will have some kind of cord, tube or wire attached to them. My baby had them everywhere. Literally from her head to her toes. One I’ve was just above her forehead and the lowest was in her ankle. Regular onsies and outfits don’t work with the all the lines attached. Snap front is the only way to go. I also brought the softest headbands and Bebe Doos Perfect Ponies of course because you know how I LOVE to dress up my little dolls!
7. A snack bag.
You will be so happy if you bring granola bars, nuts & cut up apples. I had many days that I told myself I would go to the cafeteria to eat lunch (& dinner), but let’s face it…who wants to leave that snuggly little baby?!? So relieved that I started packing for a picnic before heading over. Make sure it’s healthy, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Junk food sounds great but healthy foods is so satifying.
8. A small CD player and a beautiful lullaby CD
I found out before we went to stay at the Ronald McDonald house that I would be able to play music for my sweet Londyn 24/7. After speaking to another NICCU mom, she said that it is also a benefit when they come home from the NICCU because at bedtime you can just start playing their CD and it will get them to sleep easier…talk about a win win! Soothing baby now equals soothing baby later — I’ll take it! This totally worked! Londyn became the best sleeper at night! Bonus: Music helps you heal quicker when it’s soothing!
9. Receiving blankets (the softest you can find)
Let’s face it, as great as the hospital is for sharing their baby blankets with us, they can get pretty worn. I was able to bring my own, wash them in amazing Dreft and cover Londyn’s NICCU bed. She had a custom girly bed and I knew she was Oh so comfy. Made me so happy to not just see her as a hospital patient but a sense of feeling that she is just a baby in her crib.
10. Help to prepare
Let’s face it, not everyone knows that they will have a NICCU/NICU stay. If you know that you will or there is a possibility that your baby will come early, It is so comforting to get your house ready early. I had a friend come over just to help put clothes on hangers with me and it made me feel so relieved. The thing is about having a baby is that everyone WANTS to help but doesn’t want to step on your toes. Just pull the trigger on getting some help and your house will be shiny in no time. It will also stay that way because you won’t be there to make a much of a mess. haha. Also, if you have older children, now is the time to arrange some help caring for them so you can be with your newborn. If they are there with you, the ipad comes in handy. Ugh, I am not a fan of sitting my child on an ipad for long, but I put a bunch of educational apps on and now my then 3 year old just got accepted into the G.A.T.E. program so maybe this helped!?! I’m pulling at straws but it makes me feel better.
11. Support you can count on to always call or text
I was so grateful and fortunate to have many people to lean on. In hindsight the NICCU was a good experience and happy memories. In the moment you are scared, worried, stressed and on robot mode much of the time. (I totally developed PTSD, but that’s another post) It is so nice and comforting to know that at anytime you can contact someone to talk, vent, pray and just cry with. If you don’t know anyone that you can contact I’m sure you can easily find a group online to support NICU moms or a group that is specific to what your baby was born with so other mamas can relate. If you cannot find a group or just feel comfortable talking to me…I can be your person to. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll call you back. I hope that no one has to go through the NICCU/NICU experience alone.
I truly hope this list really helps you plan for your stay at the NICU or NICCU with your new baby. If you know a mommy that is currently at the NICCU with her little babe or preparing to be, then all of these would make great gifts too. Best of luck to all my mommy friends! Keep in mind that if you’re in the NICCU/NICU that you don’t have to worry about housework, just enjoying a sweet little babe. xoxoxo