When Your Preemie is in the NICU - What to Do

How to care for yourself when you have a preemie, advice from a preemie's father.

By Jeff Ewing

Unplug your phone (or at least screen your calls).

Every time the phone rings, panic begins to race through your body. You're just sure it will be a doctor calling to give you bad news. When you answer, it's just Uncle Billy checking in on your, or the neighbor checking in on you, or the lady at the grocery store checking on you Everyone wants to talk to you and they feel obligated to call. It's amazing how many people have your number.

Get someone to be your point-man.

Because of what I just mentioned about, have someone else fielding all the calls, telling the story over and over. Believe me, it will wear you down faster than anything else if you don't.

Summarize events in a newsletter of web site.

We wrote a newsletter every 2 weeks and mailed it to those interested and left it lying around in our respective office. As I mentioned, the web was still pretty young and not many of my friends and relatives had access, but today, I would put the information on my web site and let them come to the information. That way everyone gets the same story and no one will feel left out.

Take notes.

Not only for your own reflection later, but also keep tabs on the situations that arise. The doctors and nurses are extremely professional and do a fantastic job, but, as it was in Jacob's case, accidents do happen. Documentation is always your friend.

Get away.

You have to take a day off every now and then. You'll feel guilty as hell, but 24 hours away from the hospital and a full night's sleep will help you relax and renew your spirit. You can always call in and talk to the nurses on duty as much as you like, but don't go in for a full day. It's not so much that you deserve a day off. It's more that you need a day off.

Meet another family in the NICU.

It really helped us to find a young couple like ourselves who we could share the experience with. Even though their child went through completely different circumstances, we could talk, cry, laugh and worry together.

Ask questions.

Talk to the doctors and nurses and ask questions regarding each and every treatment, test, medication, etc. this is your child and you need to be informed about what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Jeff Ewing is the father of twin boys, and the author of Preemie Chronicles - Our NICU Experience. This is excerpt is reprinted with his permission.