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… Have a Visitor in the NICU?

lady visiting mom and baby in NICU

As a fresh mommy, you are still healing from vaginal birth or your C-section. All you want is peace and quiet, and to be with your new baby. Also, you might not feel and look your best. (Unless you’re one of those Instagram and Pinterest mommies who have perfect hair, skin color, make-up, dress, and mood!) Most likely, you’re jaundiced, in pain, maybe have post-partum depression, your hormones are going crazy, and you don’t feel like seeing anybody else like the tiny being you just created.

Or, you might actually be happy to be surrounded by supportive family members and friends, especially if you are a first-time mom and have no clue how to handle all that’s coming at your face! I certainly was glad that a few people took interest in my son’s birth, especially since I was living in a foreign country with no blood relatives (they were all overseas in Europe and couldn’t travel there; they only met my son when he was half a year old and we flew to Germany for the summer break).

In my case, I had had an emergency C-section, had quit the hospital in Clarksville after 1 day on my own accord (I should have stayed for three days to heal my scar) to be with my son, who was taken by newborn ambulance to the level-4 NICU in Nashville, where they could take better care of a tiny preemie with IUGR.

All in all, my little baby boy had three visitors during his 3-week stay in the NICU:

1. Nancy, our nanny. Since my husband David (a pianist and composer) had passed away months earlier due to bipolar depression, I had hired a nanny to help me take care of my son, since I had to go back to teaching as an Assistant Professor of English at the local university one week after my C-section. Because I was not allowed to drive for two weeks, our nanny drove me to and from work and to all health check-up appointments my son and I had to keep during these two weeks. Nanny Nancy was there during my C-section, faithfully taking photos. She was with my son and me for the entire first year of his life. She LIVED with us in the NICU. We got to share a family room at Vanderbilt (and even received food for free).

2. On the day of my son’s birth, my mentor Linda from the English Teacher Education program at APSU visited me in the NICU at Tennova, Clarksville, TN and just got a quick glimpse of Lyons Cub as he lay in his transportation isolette under a net, so he couldn’t fall out, ready to be taken to Vanderbilt. I myself just saw him for a few minutes, because he was whisked away soon. Nanny Nancy drove me to Nashville the next day, so I could be with him.

The first glance Linda got. Looked way more dramatic than it was, because he was “only” a grower and feeder!

3. On the fourth day of my son’s life, when all his cables had been removed and he was able to drink colostrum from the bottle and didn’t need oxygen anymore, my other colleague Linda (Crenshaw) came for a visit (she’s the one on the picture, also a Professor of English). I hadn’t been able to wash my hair for a few days and still had a big belly (although my son was already on the outside), and my legs were all swollen from the fluids I had received. So I didn’t really look my best, but who cares; baby is not going to remember that. However, I did feel proud showing off my tiny miracle!

Since it was January and cold and flu season, I requested from all visitors who held my baby that they had gotten a flu shot and a whooping cough shot (this had been recommended to me by my child’s doctor). And of course, I wouldn’t have let anybody hold my baby who displayed any cold symptoms!

My son stayed healthy. I had read to many dreadful accounts of newborns who acquire herpes from kisses, or RSV from sick visitors.

In the end, it is up to you whom you invite to see your new baby. During Covid-19, I would be extra careful. It is YOUR baby. YOU make the rules. Don’t let anybody convince you otherwise.

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