Friday, November 30, 2012

Surviving Lockdown

For many preemie families, November means the start of RSV season; Synagis shots, lots of hand washing, and lockdown- nobody comes in to see baby, and baby doesn't go out. It can be rough to be stuck at home all winter long!

Our daughter was born at 27 weeks in July 2011, came home in September, and wasn't allowed out of the house until June 2012. Praise the Lord, our little girl stayed super healthy, and at 16 months still hasn't had her first cold. Lockdown, hard as it was, definitely payed off!

After nine months of being cooped up, I've learned a few secrets of surviving lockdown. If you find yourself tapped indoors this winter for your little one's best interests, I hope that you find these tips to be helpful!

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Teamwork. There is no way those nine months would have gone so smoothly if it wasn't for my supportive husband! He worked with me to make sure that I got to get out of the house frequently- whether it was just for alone time at a coffee shop, or to meet up with girl friends. I tried to do the same for him. Even though he was gone at work all day, it was important for him to get out and have fun too. We also tag teamed going to church services, I went in the morning, he went at night.

If you are a single parent, or if your spouse doesn't feel comfortable being left alone with your special needs child, find a competent and trustworthy friend or relative who can help relieve some of the pressure. We had several NICU nurses volunteer to babysit for us- who could ask for a better sitter? If they aren't offering, it never hurts to ask a nurse you are close with. Oftentimes they would love to see how their tiny patients fare outside of the NICU, and they would be more than happy to enjoy some snuggle time with your peanut.

Routine. Having an established order to my day, goals I hoped to accomplish, and a plan of action to keep me busy really helped the days to fly by. Human beings crave structure, and the sooner you can develop a structure for your unorthodox new normal, the better. Plan to get up at a certain time, and shower and dress as soon as you possibly can. While sweats are nice for the first few weeks after your baby comes home, months in pajamas can make you feel way more depressed about the slow pace of your new life. Clothes that make you feel good can really improve your outlook! A "to do" list all checked off will also give you a great sense of accomplishment.

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Take advantage of this season. When in your life are you ever again going to have such a free schedule and quiet pace to your days?!? Probably never! Take advantage of it- catch up on your reading list, tackle major organizational or DIY projects around the house, maybe even start a new hobby or home business. Your days will feel less wasted when you invest them wisely. Remember- this is just a season. It won't last forever! Soak up these quiet baby days, use the time well to the best of your ability, and reap the rewards.

Look on the bright side. Who really wants to schlep around a newborn, diaper bag, oxygen tank, and apnea monitor anyway? That is a whole lot of crazy! Remind yourself that going out nowadays would be a lot trickier anyway, and enjoy the freedom and ease of just staying home. Think of how good it is that you can keep your baby safe at home and away from germs. Enjoy the extra time you get just getting to know the newest addition to your family. Relish these days- they go by too fast!

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Get some fresh air. Just because you can't take your baby out in public doesn't mean you can't go outside! Go for a quiet walk in your neighborhood. Step out into the back yard. Just be sure to avoid parks and crowds! 

Treat yourself. Every once in awhile, allow yourself to do something fun and out of the ordinary to break up the monotony (guilt-free!). Watch a movie in the middle of a week day. Take a long nap when baby sleeps. Order in a special meal. Enjoy a bubble bath. Catch up on your favorite shows. Little perks go a long way towards a happier outlook. An indulgence here and there will help you to actually enjoy your house arrest ;). Who knew?

Looking back, those nine months really flew by. I was so afraid of going stir-crazy... but I must admit, there were only one or two days that I really felt lonely or caged. Don't worry preemie parent- this too shall pass!

If you've been through a preemie lockdown before, what tricks helped you to get through it? Please share in the comments!

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