All babies in NICU/SCN will take their own time to get where they need to be for discharge. Micro prems may take many months, even past their due date before they can come home, some later prems may develop rapidly and be home quite quickly. Sick full termers may spend from days to months in hospital. In general a good rule of thumb for a premature baby is discharge around their due date.
Over the course of baby's stay in NICU/SCN you may feel like they are taking two steps forward and one backward. These babies can't be pushed, they have to do things in their own time. It can be a very emotional roller coaster as you sore the high of them making it off the vent, hitting 2kg, coming off CPAP etc. Only to crash to the depths of despair when they develop an infection, go back on the vent, won't poop, need a blood transfusion etc. Stay focused on the here and now and keep positive. Celebrate all the small milestones along the way and remember the journey is like a marathon, not a sprint.
Sometimes nearing discharge you may become frustrated that things are not progressing the way you feel they should. Try and remain objective about your baby's situation. The medical staff always have baby's best interests at heart but if you feel that they are not listening to your concerns then it may be time to speak with the NICU co-ordinator. They will help to resolve things, sometimes it's just getting it all off your chest that you need and they understand that, they have seen it many times before.
Once you have a discharge day be prepared that things can change unexpectedly. While disappointing that things have changed, know that the decision is in baby's best interest if discharge is delayed because they are not putting on weight, need another test, have a different doctor who doesn't agree etc.
Finally when you walk out the door of the NICU with your baby in your arms you may feel completely overwhelmed or scarred for their future. Some of those feelings are completely normal however if you feel that they are lingering or that you are finding it difficult to cope please speak to your Child Health Nurse, GP, or if you had your baby at KEMH their psychology unit.
You can find out more about preparing for home on our Preparing for Home page.