Flashback Friday

Still Healing

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:

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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.

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2 thoughts on “Still Healing

  1. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it was for you….and so many emotions resurfacing during this time. I am sure as any parent you questioned, why, what next, how? I’m sure you have heard that during your work with others as well. Then it all changes when you are on that side. How difficult that must be. But you have witnessed miracle after miracle with James. Tears of fear, worry, exhaustion during difficult times and I’m sure tears of happiness as he continues to strive and grow.

    All 3 of you have a testimony. You and your husband, and James, even young as he is. James is your beautiful gift. As you shared, you were expecting a big baby, and then James comes early. Everything changes and is so uncertain.

    When Nicole was 14, she was in an accident that left her with a broken leg. Almost lost her leg. For a 14 year old active young girl, she had a difficult time. So did we as her parents. But then someone (and for the life of me, I can’t remember who) told me….
    This accident now becomes who she (and us) will be. She had a story. She had to learn to walk again. Nicole was a dancer, cheerleader, and beauty pageant girl! but anyways, it became “this is my story”. I can be a better person, or I can be a bitter person. Nicole wanted to be a better person because of trials she went thru. Nicole always talked of going into law after high school….because she wanted to help people. And when she believes in something, I can assure you, nothing will sway her to change her mind. She is very headstrong. Anyways, it was when she was going into surgery for rod and screws for her leg, did she realize how her nurses and physicial therapist were so caring and considerate. That was her awakening. No longer law, now nursing. She wanted to make others feel as she felt when she was so scared. And her drive began. Just as your drive is in you as parents to get the best care for James. This is your story. This is your life. James makes you who you are. A wonderful mother and father, caring for a beautiful child given to you. And I believe you can and will help others because of James.

    I hope I haven’t said something our of line. I in no way want to compare or minimize your difficult time, but wanted to share Nicole’s story. Thankfully she has had no effects since her accident. Hopefully the next time she sees your family, it will be at a fun, happy occassion.

    And as you’ve said in your earlier post, you were able to enjoy James in the baby stage longer than others. Just wait, when the fun starts, it will be wide open!!! And I have no doubt James will be in “full speed ahead” mode!

    God Bless, hugs and prayers!

    • I can imagine that once Nicole sets her mind on something there is no stopping her! What a “blessing” the broken leg turned out to be for us…I’m sorry you all had to go through that, but there she was in the ICU to care for our precious little guy when we really needed her. If not for the broken leg she may have continued with law school. It is amazing to look back and see the path our lives have taken, and what has occurred to lead us down these paths. I believe we are right where we’re meant to be.
      Thank you for sharing about Nicole’s journey. It reinforces what I already believe. We are meant to be here doing what we’re doing. The is a reason for it all.
      So glad you’re keeping up with James.
      Thank You,
      Alison

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