Having a baby is a miraculous accomplishment. But your baby is not perfect, which
seems unfair and shatters any illusions of a traditional beginning. At first, most parents
of sick and premature babies don’t know how to feel and are often torn between joy and
sadness. For almost every parent in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), though, one
desire remains consistently strong—and that is to be recognized as the baby’s parent. In
other words, NICU parents need to be included in the care of their own special babies.
The authors of this book invite you to become an important member of your baby’s
health care team. We believe that parents can and should play an active role in their
baby’s care. This book was written for parents who wish to learn about their baby’s
illness, how to overcome the barriers to NICU parenting, and how to prepare for
and nurture their NICU graduate at home.
Some of the information in this book may seem frightening at first, but knowledge is
empowering. When you understand your baby’s illness and treatments, you will gain
confidence and be able to communicate effectively with your baby’s caregivers. You can
then form the working partnership with the medical and nursing staff that is essential
for your sense of control and for mutual problem-solving.
Neonatal intensive care is a huge subject, and your baby will certainly not have every
problem in this book. Because your NICU experience is unique, this book cannot answer
every question or prepare you for every situation. Read through the table of contents to
find the sections that interest you most—and know that what interests you will change
as your baby progresses through hospitalization. We hope that this information answers
many of your questions, and we encourage you to ask your NICU team about what you
do not understand. We hope you will feel better informed and prepared to celebrate the
achievements—and manage the crises—that are an inevitable part of every family’s life.
It would be unrealistic to expect a carefree journey through the NICU. Intensive care is
stressful by nature and overwhelming at times. Reading this book and learning about
what happens in the NICU will help you gain confidence and feel more relaxed. You will
meet some incredible people to help you through the experience. You will meet other
parents whose support will give you strength. You will meet health care professionals
who have devoted their careers to helping babies like yours. You will discover that the
NICU offers a unique blend of technology and compassion that encourages healing and
growth not only for babies, but also for parents.