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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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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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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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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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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.

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This is how premature births and neonatal care can affect dads

When my sons were born – 13 weeks ahead of schedule – I had no idea what the hell was going on.

All I knew was that this wasn’t normal… and that was soon proven to me. After nine weeks on the neonatal units at two different hospitals, this is what I learned about how dads can be affected.

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8 ways for dads to bond with their baby in neonatal care

There’s no doubt about it: bonding with your baby when they’re in an incubator is hard.

Of course, the mother’s role is imperative. She can provide the all-important breast milk to help your child on its road to recovery.

However, dads shouldn’t feel as though they have to play second fiddle all the time. There are plenty of ways you can help out and bond with your baby, even if they are in a neonatal ward.

In this post I’ll cover eight ways that dads can get involved in the NICU experience and start building a relationship with their newborns.

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In the beginning: how my sons were born into chaos

To enjoy the best thing in my life, I had to endure the worst.

Becoming a dad is the most rewarding and satisfying thing I’ve ever done – but it didn’t always feel that way.

For several long, arduous weeks, my twin sons’ lives hung in the balance. This is the story of how they were born 13 weeks early, and how it immediately affected me.