On Tuesday Andy and I had the privilege of attending an event sponsored by NICU Helping Hands. NICU Helping Hands is an organization out of Ft. Worth, Texas that is devoted to providing support programs and resources to parents and family members affected by the hospitalization of a baby in the NICU. This particular event was called Surviving and Thriving During and After the NICU. Dr. Sue Hall, NICU Medical Director in Topeka, KS, and author of For the Love of Babies: One Doctor’s Stories About Life in the Neonatal ICU, led a discussion that looked at the stress of the NICU and it’s effects on the day-to-day lives of parents and family members while their baby is in the NICU, and even years later.
Within a few minutes I was fighting back tears. Dr. Hall was discussing emotional reactions of NICU parents: shock, fear, anger, guilt (a BIG one), lack of control, and pain. Nothing prepares you for the NICU. Even my job didn’t prepare me. I worked with premature babies every day, talked with their parents, watched their struggles, and I was clueless until I experienced it myself. When you’re expecting a big, healthy baby – and we were expecting big, Christie babies are big – nothing prepares you for this:
The shock, fear, guilt, and day by day, sometimes moment by moment, fight for life has lasting effects. There are very real physical, social, and emotional consequences to having a premature baby. Some are still present for us 2 1/2 years later. James’ recent hospitalization caused a lot of NICU memories and emotions to resurface, and has me feeling a little raw. I know in time it will start to fade again, but it doesn’t goes away.
I am so thankful for NICU Helping Hands and organizations like them who are helping families survive and even thrive throughout such a tumultuous experience. Although I wish I would’ve known about them during our NICU stay, I’m thankful to be a part of them now and experience the healing that comes from sharing our story and supporting others on this journey.