Friday, November 14, 2014
NICU moms and dads relate to one another in ways traditional birth parents do not. Cannot, really. It's this little club, albeit one that no one opts into willingly. NICU parents talk and compare birth weights in grams, not pounds and ounces. They compare how many weeks and days gestation they were when they delivered, where non-NICU parents simply state whether they delivered early or late.
Most NICU parents had a room full of doctors and nurses as they delivered, not just the 2 or 3 in attendance for traditional births. NICU parents know what it's like to go home from the hospital without their baby, calling every few hours for updates.
NICU parents know the "other side" of delivery and parenting newborns. They know what it's like to parent their newborn through a giraffe isolette (and they know that those fancy isolette's cost as much as a new BMW), rather than a plastic bassinet. They know what each lead and beep means, what Brady's are and how to change diapers around wires galore.
NICU parents talk about the day their children were able to come home. How much they need to bathe in Purell and hibernate for half of the year during germ season. NICU parents can support one another in ways non-NICU parents cannot. We get it. The anxieties. The fears. The what-if's... NICU parents have support groups through hospitals, non-profits such as The March of Dimes, and social media. Where details of adjusted ages and developmental milestones are the topics.
I'm the other NICU mom. The one whose baby didn't get to go home in a car seat after passing that car seat test. I'm the NICU mom who's friend, also a funeral director, brought my son home for me. I'm the NICU mom whose baby died.
I wonder if most NICU parents saw me. The mom of the sickest baby there. Were my tears visible to you? Perhaps my reality - an unbelievably sick child requiring a team of providers surrounding us constantly - was too terrifying for you. If so, I fully get it. But now that you are out of the NICU, do you see us? The other NICU moms. The ones not on the Facebook NICU support sites. The ones who do not define our child as a miracle because they survived such challenging odds at the beginning of his or her life. Because our children are just as miraculous as those who lived.
Do you choose to see us now? The NICU parents who are quiet as discussions meander back towards such topics? Do you choose to acknowledge us at The March of Dimes events?
Please see us. We are still NICU moms and dads. We are still, and always will be, parents. Please see us in the corner of this NICU club. We are here.