A day in the life in the NICU
For one family, NICU life became normal routine
Larissa Olivieri and her son, Lars, spent 114 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Born prematurely and weighing less than 2 pounds, Lars experienced a major ventricular hemorrhage while in the womb
The hemorrhage caused hydrocephalus, a dangerous condition in which fluid accumulates in the skull. After delivery, doctors discovered he had a perforated bowel. Over the next month, Lars had four major surgeries to save his life. Once her son stabilized, Larissa began the difficult process of learning how to be a new mother in such an intimidating environment. Larissa remembers each day she spent in the NICU at Scottish Rite Hospital as if it were yesterday. The following was a typical day for her during that difficult time:
9 a.m.- On Monday mornings, a battery of pokes, prods and lab tests loom before Lars. Larissa makes sure that she's by his side when the doctors begin.
Noon- Each day at noon, Lars has his afternoon assessments. Larissa looks forward to helping with these daily activities like changing his diaper and taking his temperature.
12:30 p.m.- Larissa heads downstairs to the cafeteria for lunch. On the elevator she runs into Lars' respiratory therapist. "Lars absolutely loves him-he's like a grandfather figure," Larissa said.
1 p.m.- Larissa comes back up to the NICU for one of her favorite parts of the day: quiet time. Twice a day, the NICU implements a two-hour period of absolute peace and quiet for the babies. They dim the lights, close the shades and try to limit visitors and disruptions to create a womb-like environment so the babies can rest.
3:15 p.m.- Larissa sits down with one of the chaplains on staff. Larissa meets often with child life specialists, social workers and chaplains as she navigates the roller-coaster ride that is having a child in the NICU.
5 p.m.- After a long day, Larissa returns home and eats dinner with the rest of her family. Her mother and brother both live in Atlanta and help her as much as possible.
8 p.m.- Each evening, she makes one last trip to the NICU to tuck her son in and say goodnight. For most of the babies, it's bath time. Larissa bathes Lars herself, a seasoned sponge-bath veteran after her more than 100 nighttime visits.
11 p.m.- Just before getting in bed, Larissa calls the NICU to check on Lars one last time. She goes to sleep only to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.