This is a submission post for notesfromhome's blogging carnival: Friday Club - Parenting tips. Links to other entries are at the bottom of this post so please be sure to read them (I've just started working my way through the list!)
As a first-time parent to a 17 month old baby girl I was wondering what advice I could possibly give to other parents. Not simply because I haven't been doing this very long, but because I haven't had a typical experience with a 'normal' baby. Looking at my little girl you would no longer guess that she had a very difficult start in life. You would never indeed guess that at this time exactly 17 months ago today she was fighting for her life on a ventilator in the NICU having been born at 27 weeks gestation.
So, with the more than half of the 78 days of my life as a parent spent looking at my baby through the incubator portholes, having to ask permission to so much as hold her, I certainly don't have advice to give the parents of newborn term babies. Nor do I feel like I've discovered anything amazing that I could share with others in the time after NICU/SCBU graduation.
But what I can offer is a simple piece of advice for the parent of a precious baby born too sick or too soon. Actually, it's more of a warning than a piece of advice. And that is, TALK about what is happening to you, to your baby. Talk to your partner. You will both be feeling emotions neither of you will have felt before and you will both need support. It might be that one of you is positive and the other is worried and anxious, and that's ok. But each of those responses needs an outlet. I was seemingly positive and everyone marvelled at how well I was coping when actually, I was just storing up trouble for later down the line. I wish I had explored my feelings with someone, anyone, instead of refusing to acknowledge them and push them deep down so that they would rear their ugly destructive heads later on.
So that would be my advice, my plea if you like. Find a confidant, be it a friend, family member, or fellow parent in SCBU who is going through the same. You can support each other from a unique perspective and make a lifelong friend. Perhaps also keep a journal. I am so angry with myself that I didn't keep a better record of our time in NICU as I now seem to have blocked some of it out. I want to remember so I can deal with it.
Seeing your fragile baby through this traumatic ordeal is going to be the hardest thing you will ever have to deal with so take care of yourself as well as your baby. You will not be 'weak' for admitting that you are struggling too.
**Note: If you read the comments below it was pointed out by Kylie that there is an excellent resource in the charity organisation Bliss. I found their literature helpful and informative, but they also operate a helpline for parents who need an an alternative outlet aside from family, friends and the medical profession. I have it on good authority that the folk on the helpline are worth their weight in gold.
Here are the other entries in this parenting tips carnival:
Nova at Cherished by Me shares her tips in Encouraging Children to Read.
Gemma at HelloitsGemma's Blog gives us her working mum tips in This working Mummy’s guide to life.
Maggy at Red Ted Art shows us how Baby Can Draw!
Chris at Thinly Spread gives us her Secret to Relaxed Parenting.
Cass at The Diary of a Frugal Family shows us how she teaches her children about other countries and cultures whilst having fun in America Day.
Helen at Cheeky Wipes gives us her tips in Fussy Eating.
Kelly at Domestic Goddesque shares her advice in Terrible Twos: tips for dealing with tantrums?
Ella at Notes From Home gives us her tip for encouraging children to tidy up at the end of the day.
Tiddlyompompom shares her weaning tips in her oh so helpful guide to weaning.
Mymumdom shares her tips in Parenting Tips (Me Over The Edge).
SouthoftheRiverMum tells us her plans to set up a Reward System at Home.
Not so single mum at Diary of a Not So Single Mum shares her advice on doing what you feel is best for your child and your family.
Jax at Making It Up discusses behavioural issues in a quandary in search of a tip.
Bod for Tea shares her advice on finding a 'helper' to encourage your child to do things they don't really like doing in Bunny says.
Hayley at Simply Hayley tells us about Hugs and Love.
Make Do Mum shares her stickability scale in Know Your Enemy.
Blue Sky at Looking for Blue Sky gives us some teenage tips.