You and your partner may have been together a relatively short time, together for years, or perhaps are no longer together. Perhaps you are first-time parents or have already experienced raising other children.
The two of you may have planned every detail of becoming parents or have been unexpectedly surprised to learn you had a baby on the way. Every set of NICU parents has their own unique story and ways of relating, but all will experience stress during their baby’s NICU experience.
Many parents come to find that they experience and process emotions in very different ways because every individual is different, and that is okay. You may have different comfort levels with being at the hospital. You may have different opportunities to be at the bedside depending on demands outside the hospital, such as juggling work and childcare.
While you may notice the differences and the additional stress, it is important to try to respect and support each other no matter the differences. You may find that the NICU experience brings you and your partner closer together.
Here are some ways you can work to support your relationship:
- Keep each other updated about medical information you may receive, and work as a team to make decisions for your baby.
- Support each other by dividing necessary tasks and establishing a daily routine. This can be very helpful during the period new mothers need to physically recover from childbirth.
- Take time to take care of your relationship by making time to talk to each other, and take occasional breaks to do activities together.
- Asking for help from outside supports, such as family and friends, can also help you make time to focus on caring for each other during a difficult time.
- If dealing with the NICU stay is straining your relationship, think about getting help by talking to counseling professionals either individually or together. Your unit’s social worker may be able to give information about possible referrals.