Check out this blog we originally wrote for Mile High Mamas on some coping tips for families on how to get through these difficult times.
While most of us have been fortunate to not experience what it’s like to be a new parent with a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the pandemic has given everyone a taste of this challenging circumstance. When your baby is in the NICU, extra measures to protect a compromised immune system are part of your daily routine.
Having a baby in the NICU is completely different from what other families experience. Imagine not being able to hold or see your baby right away. Though nearly one in eight babies born in the U.S. are born into the NICU, I often find families feel exactly how I did — completely alone. After the loss of my daughter, Lily, when she was just four-and-a-half months old, I made it my mission to be there for families who are going through this often emotional and isolating experience through the establishment of Love for Lily, a nonprofit organization that provides support services for families with babies in the NICU.
At Love for Lily, we’re here to remind families and new mamas, that they are not alone and provide a space where it is OK to not be OK.
As we’ve all maneuvered through this pandemic, so much of our environment has changed and we all suddenly became even more isolated, adding an inordinate amount of stress and anxiety to our daily lives. I wanted to share a few of the tips I often give new mamas and daddies. Whether you’re caring for a new baby, homeschooling your children for the first time or fighting the virus on the front lines, there are four simple things you can do to help you navigate these challenges:
It may sound trivial, but taking a deep breath can shift everything, calm the sympathetic nervous system and help you stay grounded. Taking four connected deep breaths can bring you back to the moment, ensuring you’re not too far ahead and not too far behind.
Reach out to a friend.
The best remedy for isolation is to let someone in. Send a text to a friend or co-worker, your sister or neighbor and just say hello. This simple act of connection can ease the feelings of isolation and fear even if only for a moment.
Gratitude, make it the default setting.
Start each day by focusing on one thing for which you are grateful, say it out loud, write it down and meditate on it. Gratitude is a simple way to shift your mindset when you are feeling stuck.
Take a five-minute recharge.
A little bit of self-care can go a long way in these stressful times. Whether it’s five minutes to wash your face, paint your toe nails, change your sheets or take a walk in the sunshine, self-care is crucial. Sometimes when we break it down into five-minute chunks, it becomes much more accessible.
Remember to be kind to yourself as we embark on this new year that will bring new challenges. Whether you’re a busy mama, a NICU mama or a working mama, we all deserve to take a little time for ourselves.