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Holiday photo of Tristan and Damien

Juggling Baby In The NICU With Sibling At Home

Author: Emily Muñoz
Published Date: Monday, October 22, 2018

My husband and I were so excited when we found out we would be having a second child. We knew our first son Tristan would be an amazing big brother.

Then a routine ultrasound showed our second son Damien would be born with a serious birth defect. It meant he was going to be in the NICU for a while.  

The question of how to blend a new baby into our family turned to how to juggle one super-active child at home with a baby miles away in the NICU.

Tristan was in second grade and also plays baseball year-round, so we tried to keep his routine as normal as possible.

Here’s how we did it:

  • Each morning, I’d get up and first call the NICU nurse to give me a report on Damien. 
  • At the same time, I started making breakfast and getting Tristan ready for school.
  • Once Tristan was safely on the school bus, I’d race to the hospital to make it in time to participate in medical rounds. I spent all of my time in the NICU with Damien while Tristan was at school.
  • Then I’d race back home to be there when Tristan arrived home after school.
  • We tried to stick to our after-school routine as much as possible: baseball practice, dinner, homework, snack, and bath time.
  • After Tristan went to bed, I’d drive back to the hospital to kiss Damien goodnight, and then head back home to sleep. 

It was an exhausting seven months, but it worked for us.

It was important to provide “normalcy” for Tristan, so we attended all practices, baseball games, and school functions.

My advice is to try to stick with your older children’s routines as much as possible while your baby is in the NICU. No matter their ages, older children sense the stress of having a sibling in the hospital.

It was hard not being with Damien all day, every day, but we knew he was in the best hands in the NICU, and that he’d be home soon to complete our family.


About Emily Muñoz

Emily Muñoz is mom to Tristan (9 years old), and Damien (2 and 1/2 years old). Tristan was born healthy and full term, but six months of age was diagnosed with stage 3 neuroblastoma. Treated at CHKD, he is now a proud survivor! Damien was born at 35 weeks gestation and was diagnosed with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. He spent 232 days in CHKD's NICU. Emily is a member of the NICU Family Advisory Council and the NICU Adopt-A-Mom Squad, which offers support to parents with medically complex children. She lives in Norfolk with her husband Nico.