Time. It comes and it goes but why does it go so slowly in the NICU? Each second feels like minutes. Each minute feels like hours. Each hour feels like days and sometimes weeks. Albert Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Can you imagine if everything in the NICU happened at one time? You’d collapse from the anxiety. The doctors and nurses would fall over from the pressure and the entire operation might implode!
Thankfully time is doled out to us a bit at a time. One way to manage time during your NICU stay (or even once you’re home) is to stay present. Be in this moment right now. This is no time for scheduling unnecessary appointments that you may not be able to keep or scheduling social appointments that will only be a distraction.
A piece of advice I give in Preemie Parents, 26 Ways to Grow with Your Premature Baby is to “lose your calendar”. Life in the NICU is completely unpredictable and there’s little you can do to control it. Scheduling anything more than a few days in advance is going to cause stress – exactly what you don’t need more of!
So put your calendar away. Put your smart phone on vibrate. Release all future commitments and focus on this moment , right now. It’s where all of your power is.
During this holiday season, a season of giving and reflection, I’m encouraging all parents of premature babies – in fact, all babies – to give of themselves to other parents of premature babies. We are all equal participants on this unsuspecting journey and deserve acknowledgement. How can you give?
There are many ways you can give. Adopt a “preemie parent” and give them strength, guidance and support on their journey – especially if you’ve been through your own NICU experience. Give clothes, supplies and anything else that parents may need to thrive during their NICU journey. Medical bills grow quickly. At times, jobs are lost due to time spent at the hospital. In this economy, a premature baby could be financially crippling to many families.
Finally, give financially. Whether it’s a few dollars or a few hundred dollars, organizations that support premature babies (like the March of Dimes) and the parents of premature babies (like the Preemie Parents Foundation) always need financial resources. While the March of Dimes has tremendous resources to conduct research in support of medical advances that help premature babies, there are no organizations that support the parents of premature babies specifically. Please consider giving whatever you can to the Preemie Parents Foundation – www.preemieparentsfoundation.org. The Preemie Parents Foundation makes grants to parents/caregivers to help them grow through their experience of prematurity. They give financial grants for nursing care, psychotherapy (that is not covered by insurance) and even family trips to bring families back together after their NICU experience may have ripped them apart.
Happy Holidays and thank you in advance for giving of yourself this holiday season!
During your journey with your premature baby, consider the following strategies to allow more joy into your life:
1. Meditate. Pray or meditate each day to gain spiritual or emotional strength for the challenge. Feel your physical strength building each day.
2. Be honest. Be open and honest with yourself and others about the fears you have. Talk through them and then make the decision not to live your life around the “What if’s.”
3. Find & Celebrate Joys. Find something to celebrate each day, even if it’s something small, so you remember to be joyful.
4. Help others. By reaching out to others, you’re putting your own challenges into perspective. It also temporarily takes your mind off your own challenges, which can be healing relief in itself.
Accepting the challenge of prematurity and learning a more positive way to look at it can make it much easier to handle – both mentally and physically. Remember that most obstacles provide opportunities to grow as a person throughout the challenge.
Perhaps the most rewarding thing about writing Preemie Parents, 26 Ways to Grow with Your Premature Baby, is the extraordinary people I’ve met along the way. First, I must thank Kim Beasley for her coaching when we first began developing www.preemieparents.com. The transfer of her knowledge can be seen in almost every page of this website. I must also thank Kim for partnering me with Rick Fess. Rick has been a pure pleasure to work with, learn from and model. He was also the first person to review Preemie Parents on his website! It was as thoughtful and profound as he is.
One last thanks to Kim for her wisdom in introducing me to Laura Kennedy . Laura has been a great fan of Preemie Parents, a wealth of knowledge about the sheer possibility of the virtual world and I place great value on her friendship. Laura then connected me to Deesha Philyaw of Co-Parenting 101. Deesha and I had a great connection on our initial call and she gave me invaluable advice on co-parenting, raising kids – we covered a lot of ground in that call! Deesha had me on her show this past week and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to share my story with her audience. Be sure to visit Co-Parenting 101 and follow Deesha on Twitter! She has her own amazing story and is an inspiration on many fronts. By the way, the replay of my appearance can be heard here.
As if Deesha wasn’t enough, Laura then introduced me to Dabney Porte. Where do I even begin to describe this dynamo? She swept into my life full of ideas and giving of herself endlessly. We quickly decided we were soon-to-be BFFs and she shared her own story of loss with me. I encouraged her to write her story as part of the healing process and she did. She wrote a beautifully moving narrative, which I’ve reprinted below in our “Preemie Parent Power” blog. She certainly has power and continues to build herself daily.
It is with much gratitude that I acknowledge each of you! I can’t wait to see what earth angel appears next on this exciting ride!
What an extraordinary week! I stared in awe at my twins who turned 5 years old on March 21st. How could so much time have passed since they were born at 1 lb. 12 oz. and barely 12″ long at 25 weeks. My journey in the neonatal intensive care unit seemed not so long ago. The lonely, reflective 5 weeks I spent on hospitalized bedrest cleansed me emotionally and spiritually. The fear, stress, sadness and the emotional roller coaster of the NICU at once crippled me, and then rebuilt me over my 18 month journey with my hospitalized twins. The pain and pride of enduring both experiences revealed the truth of who I am at my core, and freed me from those things that once hid my pure potential. I remain grateful for every step of that unexpected journey. Do you? Can you?
Of course you can. As impossible as it may seem, your NICU experience will completely transform you, if you allow it to. I share my story and give you 26 specific steps you can take to walk your NICU journey from a place of empowerment, in my book, Preemie Parents, 26 Ways to Grow with Your Premature Baby, published by Sellers Publishing last year. This week marked the official launch of Preemie Parents to coincide with the twins’ birthday! I laid eyes on it on-shelf in Barnes & Noble yesterday.
This week also saw an extraordinary team of people help me with its online launch — starting with a contest for bloggers!
Although my son remains on oxygen, still has a trach and a g-tube, I’m in awe of both of my small warriors and mighty teachers. My own growth and evolution also gives me pause. But clearly, this was all in divine order. It was intended for me to openly share my story, to help others write theirs.