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With my history of preterm labor, I always knew that the NICU was a possibility, but all the research in the world of what it may be like would not have prepared me for actually living it. I recently was talking with a friend who experienced the NICU with her child who described it as the “underworld of Labor & Delivery”, and I couldn't have agreed more. It's like entering another world within the hospital that separates you from everyone else, where they handed me a huge, blue binder with all the details of what I should expect to do and live through on a daily basis just moments after giving birth. It's such a tremendous feeling, that I would describe as like a loss, that I would never wish on anyone I would enter Silas's room filled with wires, pumps and beeps, and try to hold it together enough to focus on what achievements we were tracking that day. The initial goal was to have Silas sleep, keep calm and grow enough to hit milestones that would have him closer to coming home.If you know a NICU parent, or there is the possibility you may have a pre-term or NICU baby, I would highly recommend these items to help you through it all, A machine washable bag, like mine from Kaleido Concepts. Because I was going home at night and coming back to the hospital during the day, I was having to pump at home and bring in my breastmilk the next day. It's quite the automated system of pumping, storing milk in these plastic containers and printing labels when checking in to track and deliver milk. This bag was awesome because envitally some milk would leak out and get sticky on the inside, but it was easy to wash. I also highly recommend a washable bag because of germs. They have you wash your hands for 3 minutes, all the way up to your elbows, before entering baby's room, so I was very careful to only bring items that were clean into the room. I would sanitize my phone and my bag, and wash everything I wore immediately after coming home from the hospital. With the flu running rampant and a house full of kids who were just getting over it, I was not taking any chances. The room was kept rather warm, so I always wore layers, but because I would pump throughout the day, I lived in my BLANQI Pull-down Postpartum + Nursing Support Tanktop. The reality is that even when pumping, the nurses and Doctors would come and go in the room as needed, so having something that covered my belly and gave easy access to my breasts to pump was a lifesaver. It let me feel less exposed and more like myself, if that is even possible under the circumstances.And because all I was doing was pumping, my breasts were more sore around the nipple than usual. I went through twoWash With Waterjars of Care & Repair Balm because it was the only thing that worked to keep my breasts from cracking and getting red. I swear that if I had not started using it as a preventative that my breasts would have gotten too sore to keep pumping every 2-3 hours. It was challenging, because through all that pumping, I was lucky to have Silas on the breast 1-2 times per day, so it was a juggling act of nursing and pumping, and tracking his weight gain.