My NICU Takeaways

This post is a bit delayed (welcome to mom life I guess?!) but after 23 days in the NICU we received the OK to go home last Wednesday night.  While this wasn’t the journey I would have chosen for Anika, things all worked out and we have met/connected with some fabulous people along the way.

Between the copious hours sitting in a pleather rocker in our little room, late night pumps, and general mom hormones I have developed a list of lessons learned/silver linings about our experience:

1.) There is an amazing network of people who know what you are going through.  By far the most valuable advice/sanity came from talking to those who had been through the same experience.  Whether friends, friends-of-friends, or people I had lost touch with, those who made a point to reach out meant more to me than they probably know.  One thing I struggled with (and that honestly still bugs me) is the feeling like I “kicked” Anika out, that her being in the NICU was my fault.  While that is completely illogical, I couldn’t kick the feeling and despite being surrounded by people it made me feel extremely lonely.  It wasn’t until someone reached out via Instagram who had the same exact experience and lonely feelings that I felt “normal” and able to address.  Even if you aren’t close with someone, don’t hesitate to send a text/call/social media message, you could make someone’s day 🙂

Also, who better than to understand the day-to-day struggles than your fellow NICU neighbors.  Talking with others gave me a better perspective on our situation (could be worse) and a general sense of community within the NICU.  I had the pleasure of “rooming” next to a FANTASTIC couple who had the same issue (and doctor) as us – the mom and i exchanged numbers and would text during the day and randomly chat.  She made my stay 100% better and I can’t wait until her little guy is out so we can grab a drink and chat outside of Fairview Southdale!


2.) It’s like Baby Boot Camp:  This advice came from some good friends of ours (and was reiterated by others) and is 100% true.  The benefit to a NICU stay is that you get to leave knowing your baby for more than 36 hours – you know their sounds, needs, and they are on a bit of a schedule.  And that leads me to my next takeaway…

3.) Leverage the staff (and get to know them, they are great):  You gain extended access to baby experts – from nurses, lactation consultants, doctors.  They see babies everyday, have been doing this for years, and probably know your baby better than you do!  Ask questions and get their advice,

Also get to know them and thank them – they are REALLY great and you spend a lot of time together.  They are the best and little things go a long way (pizza, donuts, care packages, etc).  In my case they came-in during a blizzard and paid for a hotel so they could make their next shift to take care of Anika and the other NICU babes.  If that doesn’t deserve a snack at minimum what does 😉  Shout-out to the staff at Fairview Southdale who made leaving Anika each night easier knowing she was in the BEST care.

image1 (3)

4.) Find a schedule that works for you: At first I was really worried about what I “should” be doing.  After talking to others, the nurses I trusted, etc. I came to the conclusion that what was best for Anika was for me to be healthy both mentally and physically.  For me that meant not staying overnight (I tried it once and I was a mess).  I would call first thing in the morning to find out when her next feeding would be and make sure I was there for at least four of her eight feedings a day (around 8:00am – 7:00pm).  This ensured I got a decent night sleep at home and could find some normalcy while still getting quality time with Anika.  We also took advantage some nights of “the best/most expensive babysitters in the world” and did date night which was important for us as a couple (a break from the small room and baby talk).  That may not work for everyone, but my point being do what works for you and consistency helps create normalcy!

5.) People are the best:  Going through this has made me realize how amazing people are.  We can’t thank my mom, sister, family in general, friends, neighbors who have made these last few weeks as stress free as possible with their visits, food, help with Stella pup, and listening ears.  Also again to the staff at Fairview and my favorite OB (shout out Dr. Toft) – thank you for taking such good care of us!

It has been quite the ride, and the first of many hiccups of parenthood I’m sure – thanks for following along and supporting Anika!  Now onto figuring out this parenting thing (even Stella is adjusting) 🙂




An Excuse to Bake – Lactation Cookies

So I promise that this will not become a mom blog, but my life currently (and for the foreseeable future) revolves around my little Fox and working on getting her home from the NICU!

Quick Anika update: she continues to do well and is growing/getting stronger everyday.  It is amazing how much can change in one day for her!  She is considered a “grow and feed” baby at this point, meaning she is healthy and self-sufficient (no more oxygen, breathing issues, etc) but needs to build the stamina to stay awake/tolerate oral feedings.  Once she can eat fully on her own and maintain weight, she can go home.  Unfortunately that isn’t quite as easy as it sounds – we have had some good days, and some bad and it has been quite the lesson in patience.  Trying to continue to take it one day at a time as we approach the 3 week mark on Monday.

I will be going back to work and travel for my job so I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can these first few weeks to help my milk supply come-in.  I’ve been doing my best on the basics (drinking water, remembering to eat, and skin-to-skin when I’m at the hospital) but given the stress of schlepping, sitting in a dark room, and leaving my newborn everyday I haven’t been able to master the relaxation/sleep piece so was looking for some additional ideas.

My fantastic NICU neighbor recommended this Upspring drink mix (you can get it at Target or Amazon) and it seems to be helping!  After also doing some research/talking to lactation consultants, I was introduced to the world of “Boobie Bites” aka an array of recipes containing ingredients to help increase milk supply.  I really miss cooking/trying new recipes so am leveraging this as an opportunity to try something new and do something that feels a bit “normal” again!

There are several options online, but I opted for these chocolate cookies from How Sweet Eats that claim to be “the best.”  The key “lactation ingredients” are the brewer’s yeast and ground flaxseed, both I purchased from The Viatmin Shoppe!


Overall they are pretty good (Luke even enjoys them, and don’t worry guys you won’t grow boobs from eating them), and if nothing else like I said were a good excuse to get my bake on and share with my NICU neighbors 🙂

“Skinny” Cake Pops

For those of you new to the baby world (as I was), 5 months is an exciting time because 1.) you made it through half of your pregnancy, and 2.) you get to do an in-depth ultrasound to make sure all is good with you/baby and 3.) you can find out the gender!  For a change the baby actually looks like a baby too, instead of a little blob!

I kind of went back-and-forth on whether or not I wanted to find out the gender (there aren’t too many real surprises in life, right?) but my husband wanted to find out and my a-type personality definitely sees the benefit of being able to plan!

For our “reveal” we had the ultrasound tech put the gender in an envelope and we went to dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Broder’s Pasta Bar in Edina, MN.  If you are looking for amazing homemade pasta in a cute, quaint space you need to check this place out!  We didn’t have a great plan for how we would do the reveal, worst-case thought we could have them send X drink for a boy and Y drink for a girl.  But lucky for us our waitress was AMAZING and way into it (shout out to Kaleia!) – she was in training to be a midwife and is obsessed with babies so it was meant to be!  We handed her the envelope and she came-up with a plan (meanwhile we awkwardly ate our appetizer and bread in silence, the anticipation killing us).  When she came around the corner with these cute sherbet drinks we knew we were having a little girl!


My husband and I loved having that moment between the two of us, but also wanted to do something fun for our families but without a big party since our actual announcement was a bit bland (aka hey, by the way we are pregnant).

Insert the cake pops – with everyone in town for the holidays it was a perfect excuse to disguise some holiday baking with our gender reveal.  I have been making this cake pop recipe from Skinny Taste for a few years – they fit my “cute” criteria, are tasty, and outside of cleaning the pan are easy!  They earn the “skinny” title because the cake part is made with Greek yogurt, but full disclosure they are dipped in chocolate so I’m not sure it counts…but details, right?!

I made a few colored for the reveal and a few vanilla to share over the holidays which worked-out great!


Here is the recipe, enjoy!

Skinny Cake Pops

One recipe makes around 24 cake pops


  • 1 box yellow (or chocolate) cake mix
  • 1 individual serving (or 5.3oz) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 package almond bark (vanilla or chocolate)
  • Lollipop sticks (I get mine at Michael’s)
  • Parchment paper
  • Cake pop pan



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray your cake pop pan
  • Combine all of your cake ingredients (cake mix, yogurt, water, egg whites, and vanilla) in a medium bowl
  • Using a spoon or plastic bag with the tip cut-off, gently fill the bottom half of each cake pop mold, wiping-off any excess
  • Spray the top of the cake pop pan and secure, then place in the oven for 18 minutes, turning half-way through so they bake evenly
  • Place the balls on a rack to cool and repeat until you use-up the batter.  Note you may have to clean the pan in between batches to avoid sticking.
  • Using a scissors cut-off the excess “ring” around the cake balls and place in the fridge or freezer.
  • Melt some of the chocolate according to package directions (careful not to over-heat and scorch)
  • Place a lollipop stick into each cake ball and dip in the melted chocolate – let the excess chocolate run-off then either place on parchment paper or a foam block
  • Cover with sprinkles or decor of your wish!