Working Woman Large

When A NICU Mom Must Go To Work

Author: Krystie Niver
Published Date: Monday, October 01, 2018

In the months before my daughter Whitney was born, I had visions of eight weeks of blissful maternity leave with a wiggling bundle of joy in a cute little pink hat.

It was not to be.

Instead, I had an emergency C-section at 25 weeks because of life-threatening high blood pressure, two weeks of recovery, and a 1-pound, 2-ounce baby who needed to spend 17 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Instead of full-time cuddling, I went back to work two weeks after I gave birth. It was hard physically and emotionally, but I wanted to save my precious maternity leave for when my daughter would, hopefully, come home from the hospital. My husband returned to work a few days after Whitney’s birth


Once I went back to work, I often visited Whitney in the NICU before work and during my lunch hour, and then my husband and I would spend several hours with her in the evenings. I got used to pumping breast milk while driving to the hospital, a multitasking challenge I never expected to learn.

Sometimes I felt guilty not spending every waking moment at the hospital with her. I definitely had pangs of jealousy of the moms who were with their babies all day.

However, I knew I was doing what was best for my family, and that’s what was important.

Here are some tips for parents who have to go back to work while their babies are in the NICU:  

  • Rely on your baby’s primary nurse. In our case, that was Alia, who gave me regular updates. She not only asked questions for me during medical rounds, she advocated for Whitney when my husband and I weren’t there.
  • Seek out the “Dine & Discover” dinners on the NICU. The evening dinners helped us stay connected. We made friends with other families and with staff we might not have met otherwise.
  • Stay strong. My career has always been very important to me, and it offered a steady comfort from the stress of the NICU. Do what feels right for you and your family.
  • When you need help or feel overwhelmed, reach out to the NICU support team and the nurses.

About Krystie Niver

Krystie Niver, a New York native, moved to Virginia Beach about 10 years ago. She is the mom of one fantastic kiddo, Whitney, a 25-weeker who spent 121 days in the NICU at CHKD after a sudden and frightening bout of preeclampsia turned HELLP syndrome. Krystie, along with her husband, Eric, are dental surgeons who both practice full time in the Tidewater Area. Krystie is a member of the NICU Family Advisory Council.