My daughter was in the NICU for 3 months so I probably have tons of advice. The first thing I would share would be to not be intimidated by all the professionals taking care of your baby. This was my first child and I can't tell you how disconnected with her care I felt at my first visit to the NICU the day after my emergency c section. The little one I thought I would be taking care of had instead been cared for by others and not held by her own mom on her first few hrs in the world! Take care, you will have plenty of time to bond with your baby and the chance to do many of the things you'll watch the nurses do at first. Also, kangaroo care by both mom and dad will help you feel more connected - so will baby massage. They are both proven to be great for brain development and pass along important antibodies. Plus that kind of skin to skin contact can only be done by mom and dad.
I also recommend finding out when the doctor rounds and be there every day if you can at that time. Keep a notebook of everything your doctor shares, esp during the beginning when condition maychange daily and you maybe too emotional to completely process some of the medical jargon thrown your way. Don't be afraid to ask your neonatologists questions or ask why they chose a certain treatment. A good doctor will answer these questions and fully explain in laymen's terms. If you have rotAting doctors, get close to the one you like best and get their number. Even if they are not on that week, use them as your contact if you cannot get answers from another doctor or get one that likes to round when you cannot be there. Also if a nurse cannot get ahold of your doctor don't be afraid to ask to speak with the nurse practitioner. They are all there to care for your baby and that means helping you to stay informed and being aware of the day to day medical decisions and evaluations done.
I feel I have so much more to share but will leave my last comments on breastfeeding. If you would like to excusively nurse you will find many challenges to that in the NICU with supplemental bottle feedings to help conserve calories and possibly human fortified added to your milk to increase baby's calories. The part no one shares is that although these steps may be medically necessary they may lead your babyto view the breast as non-nutritive and come to prefer the bottle for full feeds. It is diffcult to move toward full breast feeds when a baby is extra full from fortified added to your milk. It increases the length a baby is willing to go between feeds and will doesn't help to give your babythe drive at the next breastfeed once your baby has the stamina to really start working on nursing. My advice is just stick with it! It took us approx 4 months to get to full feeds from the breast. It may sometimes feel like you will never get there, but you will! Even a baby that becomes bottle 'addicted' can become a full time breastfeeder with work! It may take many tears (from both of you) and some days in bed where breastfeeding is your only agenda item but it can be done. I found out after my NICU stay that there is also a feeding system that can be used while nursing - I believe it is called SNS. I wish I had known about this during our stay. This may help your baby to avoid developing a preference to the bottle before they have enough stamina to entirely breastfeed.
Remember these times but alsoknow your NICU stay will soon be a distant memory of the first challenges and feats you and your baby surmounted together!