Going Home From the Hospital Without Baby

Going home after 5 months in the NICU

As a volunteer in the NICU, the single most difficult part of the NICU experience is that first day mom (and dad) get discharged from the hospital and get to go home, but baby doesn’t get to go home.

It’s been over five years since my daughter was born way too early. She stayed in the NICU when my wife and I left to go home. I remember helping my wife up the stairs to get some rest considering she just had a c-section. I vividly remember the two of us breaking down the moment we walked by the nursery and knew our daughter was not home with us. I remember the single longest embrace we ever had as a couple.

It was not the experience we expected, not the experience we planned for, not the experience any parent should have to go through. The one thing that kept us strong was knowing our new daughter was getting the best care possible — and we kept reminding ourselves of that fact.

For some parents it’s a few days. For us, it was 5 months before Natalie came home. For all parents, that first trip home is one of the toughest days they will ever have. The one thing I want to remind parents who are going through the NICU experience is that it does get better. It does get easier. It’s not going to happen right away, but it does happen.
Splitting time between the NICU and home becomes part of your new normal. We like to use phrase new normal in the NICU because things are different than they were before, but they quickly become your normal routine. It’s not easy, but the new normal just becomes, well, normal.
If you know anyone who has a baby in the NICU, there are a few things you can do to help this transition a little easier for the families. Volunteer to cook for them, clean for them, mow the lawn for them. I know for us, all that mattered was being at the hospital with Natalie. All the normal routines at home like cooking and cleaning suddenly didn’t matter to us. For most families in the NICU, just helping out with those basic things can be a huge stress relief when they are splitting their time between NICU and home.
Another thing that the families need when they get home from visiting in the NICU is rest. That is where friends and family come in. Make sure they don’t have to worry about dinner or don’t have to worry about cleaning up. They have enough on their minds.
–Jason Pyciak, Parenting Program Volunteer

3 Responses to “Going Home From the Hospital Without Baby”

  1. 1 DR March 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Straight from the heart, Jason. Thanks for sharing your story! DR

  2. 2 CR March 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Nice Article!

  3. 3 Natalie Pyciak September 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm


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