It’s been 4 years since my twin boys, Dominic and Julian, were born. They arrived prematurely, and spent the next 6 weeks in the NICU fighting for their lives. That might sound dramatic, but it’s true. Both of them were very weak, had trouble breathing, and battled serious infections.
Just like many other NICU moms, I also had a family at home – a husband and 3 older children. It was September, so they had just started a new school year. (Oh, the insanity!)
Luckily, I had an amazing support network of family, friends, and coworkers. They helped our family make it through one of the toughest times in our lives.
If you have a loved one with a child in the NICU, here are ten ways you can help.
1. Offer a ride. New moms aren’t allowed to drive for 1-6 weeks depending on their delivery. There was no NICU in my hometown, as is the case with most rural areas. The hospital was over an hour away from my house. That means I was traveling 3 hours each day to see my little ones. Luckily, my hubby and brother did most of the driving.
2. Bring a meal. Whether you cook one or pick one up, that’s one less meal a NICU mom has to worry about. You could even coordinate with others to bring a meal to the house each day.
3. Clean up. Offer to clean the kitchen or bathrooms. As a mom, I felt a little embarrassed letting my coworkers see my messy kitchen. But they helped without judgement. We all need a helping hand sometimes.
4. Do some laundry. All moms know that the laundry never stops. Offer to either run a few loads, fold some, or simply put clothes in the correct rooms.
5. Help with the older kids. You could offer to take them to practices or drive them to school. You could even offer to keep them overnight to allow both parents time off.
6. Offer to visit the baby in the NICU. This one is reserved for the closest friends and family, as visitors are limited. But it was nice knowing a loved one was with my babies when I had somewhere else to be.
7. Get some groceries. Even if mom can’t think of a list, pick up some of the staples to help the family. Think of some easy meals they can pop into the oven. Grab some snacks and drinks.
8. Put a care package together. If you’ve had a baby, you know what moms need – snacks, drinks, coins for the vending machines, Advil, hygiene products…
9. Take up a collection. Most parents never ask for monetary help. But no matter what their financial situation, having a baby in the NICU is costly. Extra gas, babysitters, eating away from home, and renting rooms are just a few of the added expenses NICU parents incur.
10. Just ask! What can I do? How can I help? Every family is different. Each one has different needs.
Having a baby in the NICU is such a stressful time. I don’t know how our family would have made it through without the help and support of our loved ones.
If you were a NICU mom or dad, what are some things that you found helpful?