Good Morning and Καλημέρα!
Our first day home from the NICU and my son is already teaching his dad a thing or two about being a dad. One thing that is easy to overlook when someone else is caring for your child is how many little things go into caring for a newborn. I'm not talking about anything major here. So since my coffee has settled in, the boy is sleeping soundly and my wife is being part of the dairy council I will get some of how I am seeing my first day as not just a dad, but a dad with a newly released from the NICU little boy in the house.
- They sleep all the time. Maybe because I was only allowed to see James twice a day since he was born, and most of the time he was more or less awake, I forgot just how much newborns sleep. Before it is time for him to eat my wife or I will get him out of bed and he will wake up some before eating. But once he has a belly full of milk it is not long at all before he is nodding out. Tucking him back in is very nice though. I wasn't allowed to do that at IASO's NICU. That was for the nurses to do and us to watch being done.
- Diapers, get used to them. They stink, they are wet, they are too big for your kid. Since James is still not yet at his original due date everything is huge on him. We have the smallest ones (the same that the hospital used in fact) and we still have to roll the top down. That little trick I learned from watching the nurses.
- The nurses make everything look easy. When you spend any amount of time in the NICU you get to see nurses doing all the day to day tasks. Watching them move, reposition, feed, bathe, change a child makes you think, pfft I can do that. Yes you can but be prepared for wondering, "How the heck did my kid end up with poo in his hair?" Or, "Do nurses actually have a third hand?" (By the way, I think they have prehensile tails that are invisible but that is just a theory...)
- Nothing fits my kid. Yeah, and I don't think it will for some time if you are the proud owner of a newly minted preemie. I was warned of this by one of the staff of the NICU. I asked my sister and I believe she said, "PFFFTTTTTT" or something to that effect. The solution, you roll everything. Up, down, sideways whatever works. Before you know it you will be doing it without thinking. This tip is one that parents with second kids probably laugh at. After all, the second child is wearing clothes from the first. Come to think of it my mom made me roll my own up after picking slightly too large clothes from the "cousin share bin" telling me, "Its too big," if I chose it. Or, "You'll grow into it," if she chose it.
- Nicu babies probably have to be given medicine regularly. Okay, this is one I didn't even consider even though I knew what medicines he was taking. One of the first things we did when we got James home was run out to pick up the order from the pharmacist. BE SURE to call ahead before you go home. The first day at home is going to be hectic enough without suddenly realizing that you are missing an important medication for your child. Luckily my wife and her mother took care of this and the local pharmacist had everything. Then you are going to have to suck it up and actually administer the medication after finding the right one, at the right time, at the right dose. Hopefully you can even manage to not mess up your child's sleeping schedule too bad with this. As for your sleep schedule. No one cares. Make a list and stick it to the fridge. Use simple terms and colors since you may have to sort it out before coffee or in the middle of the night sometimes.
- If your child is drinking breastmilk but not nursing you better be prepared. What? This makes no sense? Actually in our case it did. Because James was born at 31 weeks he still is having a problem to actually nurse for all his food. My wife and James are trying to play catch up now but for the time being he is getting his real food from a bottle. Here lies the rub. When in the NICU and there is a shortage of breastmilk to feed your child they have every formula choice known to man. This is not exactly true but they have different choices depending on the child. By time we came home the supplies from our "very local dairy foundation" otherwise known as my wonderful wife were very close to being immediately used. So you have to either freshly express and hope the baby will wait (making for a very long and tiring feeding cycle), have milk to use or have a formula that your baby can tolerate. Be sure to ask the NICU if they have given him formula or for any help in this matter. Your wife will thank you for the help. Being the Dairy Council needs all the support you can give.
- One last word of advice. Forget everything. Make lists and schedules as soon as you throw out all your good intention ones and have your baby at home. Be prepared. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from your doctor or other medical practitioner for anything. Your child is your treasure, protect them as you would anything precious. Oh, and do something nice for your wife. Especially if she is breastfeeding.
- Oh right, almost forgot. If you have a son like I do and you are changing his diaper be prepared. I mean little boys have some sort of a temperature slash not paying attention sensor that knows the best time to shoot a stream of urine pretty damn far for such a little kid. I knew about this from my brother's kids and yet James still managed to catch me by surprise. One more point for James. :P
If I haven't mentioned it yet, I'm really loving having our son home. Today was the first day I didn't have to take a trolly and the metro and a bus to go see him. It was heaven.