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Personal stories

How does it feel to spend Father’s Day in NICU?

I never really gave much thought to what my first Father’s Day as a dad would bring.

Presumably, novelty socks, personalised pint glasses and some chocolates would feature prominently. I certainly didn’t envisage spending it in hospital – yet that’s exactly what happened. If your sons insist on making an extremely premature entrance into the world, that’s the way it goes.

This is what it’s like to spend Father’s Day on a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

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Presents for Preemies: A NICU family gift guide

Editor’s note: When a baby is born prematurely or sick, gifts are often the last thing on the parents’ minds. But what can you buy for a baby (or parents) in the NICU? I’m pleased to share this guest post from Lisa and Stacey, two NICU mums who’ve since set up a thriving community and store for gifting to neonatal families and have some great premature baby gift recommendations.

We are Lisa Norman and Stacey Matthews. In this blog we are going to cover some gifts that are ideal for a baby and their parents while they are on the neonatal unit and what is ideal for when they are finally discharged and can come home. We are two mums who have been through the neonatal journey and we know just how tough the experience can be!

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Personal stories

Why it’s important for NICU dads to take part in kangaroo care

I thought I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up in a zoo.

Man, I was confused. I thought this was a hospital for sick babies. Why were we talking about animals?

What the hell is kangaroo care?

Turns out it’s a really important part of the neonatal journey – both for parents and baby. And while it’s essential for mums to take part, it’s also something that dads can participate in… and we even bring our own benefits to the party.

Here’s how…

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Personal storiesResources

What are the benefits of reading to babies in neonatal units? Experts and parents share their views

One of the best ways I found of bonding with my sons in the neonatal unit was by reading to them.

At the time, it felt almost futile. Here I was, sometimes in a room of other parents, feeling self-conscious about being overheard reading silly rhymes aloud. All while the boys slept (most of the time) through it.

Was there actually any point? As it turns out – yes, there was. Here, I dig deeper into the benefits of reading to your baby in the NICU.

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Personal storiesResources

8 things you may miss out on when your baby is born preterm

Even the best laid plans can be obliterated in devastating fashion by a premature baby’s arrival.

Much of a pregnancy involves excitement and forward planning, and yet having a preterm baby can mean those plans are put on ice… or even shelved completely.

Here are some of the things that parents of a premature baby may miss out on.

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Resources

Shattered expectations and trauma: coping and processing

Editor’s note: It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr Jenna Brough BSc, DClinPsy, DipHb(KGH) to PremDad. This post is a must-read for parents who are currently going through, or have recently experienced, life in the neonatal unit. Over to Dr Brough!

As a Clinical Psychologist much of my work is about supporting people who are struggling after traumatic experiences, dealing with difficult emotions and the impact this is having on them, their relationships, and their lives.

Many parents whose babies are born prematurely and require NICU support, were not expecting it, they do not have a great deal of time to process and accept the changes from their expected pregnancy, birth and new-born experience…

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Interviews

“It was almost a blur”: Christmas in the NICU

For some families, the only lights this Christmas will be those of the NICU. Jingle bells will be replaced by alarm bells.

Indeed, for those that celebrate Christmas, a festive spell on a neonatal ward can be memorable, but often only because of the hardship it brings. While many families are celebrating together in the comfort of their homes, those parents with sick or premature children are out of their comfort zones and often out of others’ minds.

Tayla Esgate-Menear was one of those parents in 2019. Here, she shares her experience of Christmas in NICU.

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World Prematurity Day 2020: what is it, and why is it important?

I start this piece with a confession: up until 2019, I’d never heard about World Prematurity Day. I never paid attention to it, I never even knew about it.

Really though, I never had a reason to… until my sons were born 13 weeks prematurely. Now, as a parent of preterm children, it’s a day I pay full attention to.

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Personal stories

Back to the grind: the agony of returning to work when your babies are in hospital

Business as unusual.

I’m lucky to do a job that I enjoy. But for several weeks in summer 2019, I ambled through my role in a state of fugue. I can tell you precious little about what I did at work at that time and even less about how often my mind was fully on the task at hand.

The reason, though, is simple: my mind was elsewhere. Specifically, it was in a hospital 25+ miles away. It was with my sons, still wired to their machines. It was with my wife, suddenly walking the parenthood road we’d trodden together, alone. And it was with the nurses and doctors caring for our sons.

Alas, we have bills to pay… and so a month after our boys crashed into the world, I once again showed my face in the office. This is what it’s like to return to work when your babies are in the hospital.

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Personal stories

The coronavirus lockdown gave me a second chance at paternity leave

Out of darkness comes light.

It feels almost criminal to even think of this awful situation as a positive in anyone’s life. Yet the coronavirus pandemic and its trail of destruction somehow left the cards stacked in my favour. It gave me the unique opportunity to relive my paternity leave. Or to put it more accurately, live the paternity leave I never had.