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You are both in my thoughts, still, and until this ends and you both bring your babies home. And beyond.

Cherith writes: "That is my not so eloquent description of the NICU experience." Oh Cherith, it was vivid and heartbreaking. I am so sorry for everything you and your amazing friends have gone through.

Tertia - what happened later to Cherith's baby?

Love to you all,

M.

I've been a NICU mom- but for such a short time, that I can't even imagine the feelings of despair when you have to leave your babies there- indefinitely. My Portia was born, unable to adequately process air through her lungs, and she spent 5 days at the NICU. I was lucky. Every time I went in there, I just prayed that the other babies- the teeny tiny boy up front, the little girl next to my daughter's own plastic bed- would make it home...

On a sad note, the little girl next to my daughter was born weighing around a pound, I think. She had already been in the NICU for about 3ish months before Portia was born- the mother and father never visited her. The baby's plastic contraption (I'm sorry- I don't know the words- it's the bassinett that has the holes in it so the nurses can handle the baby, but not expose it?) was covered in toys and flowers from the hospital's gift shop- it was clear the nurses cared for her, even if her parents didn't. That little girl haunts me to this day. She was such a fighter- she wanted to live so badly and yet her mother and father didn't care! I just don't understand people...

Even with this wrenching description, I can't begin to imagine what this feels like. Many prayers for Lauren and her babies.

I pray things continue to go well for the babies and their parents. I wish I could take some of their pain away.

I pray Adam and Kate stay put for a good long time, and their parents don't have to go anywhere near the NICU.

I also think the NICU moms ward is a wonderful idea. Everyone there is in the same situation. Much easier on anyone who is unfortunate enough to end up there. It seems downright cruel to expose them to what goes on in the new moms ward.

Thank you for sharing. If you've never had a baby in a NICU facility, there is no way to truly know what a new mother is really feeling or how to help. Maybe, just maybe now I can be a better friend to someone going through this.

PS - This should be required reading for the NICU nurses who, because they are there every day think they "know" it all. They don't because they can't. Not until they've walked in the shoes of a woman who is battling for her children to survive.

As a NICU nurse I read this entry and these comments with tears in my eyes. I don't think I know it all. I do try so hard to be as compassionate as humanly possible. But these posts are reinforcing for me and reminding me of just how much the families are going through. I started reading this blog during my infertility struggle. I've since had 2 miscarriages and have lost my (now 20w4d) baby's twin. So while I'm no stranger to pregnancy loss, I have no idea what it's like to be a mother of a baby in the NICU. Thanks to all for the reality reinforcement. I feel like I do the very best I can at work each day, but there's always room for improvement.

I can speak for myself and for most of my coworkers: we don't mind how much you call us for updates. Call us as much as you need to.

My heart goes out to all the NICU moms and families mentioned above.

So much pain. I cannot imagine the horror, I lack the words. It is not right, it should never have to be, this kind of pain should never exist, for any reason.

Many prayers for your friend Lauren and many prayers for you and your beautiful babies.

xxxxoooo

By the way, Cheriths son is now a happy healthy 18 month old sweetheart with an absolutely beautiful smile.

Though my faith has been shaken in the past few months, I am praying that these weeks pass quickly for you and your friends and that they bring nothing but happiness.

Please hang in there.

My constant prayer is with you and your babies and now for your friend and her babies.

My nephew was in NICU for 4 months, weighed 1 lb. 6 oz. at birth. It was the most difficult time in all of our lives. I took my sister every day to the hospital but was not allowed in because I was not a parent or grandparent. I sat in that waiting room day in and day out watching all of the happiness around me. It was surreal. They should have a separate area for NICU.

My nephew is now 14 years old. He still has scars - rather large ones near his nipples where the chest tubes were and many, many tiny ones on his wrists and ankles. He is doing fine and after about age 3, he caught up with other children his age. It always bugged my sister that they didn't change the tests to reflect his prematurity, he was always going to be 3 months behind other children "his age".

She later was instrumental in starting a volunteer service to rock the NICU babies when the parents were unable or unwilling to provide those services. NICU babies tend to do so much better when massaged and held when possible. So many of the babies are abandoned there.

It is completely heartbreaking and hearing about your friend only brings back heartbreaking life-changing memories.

May God bless you and your babies and also your dear friend and her precious little ones. I hope you are resting better. Take care of yourself.

perfect description. I remember all too well. The feelings never go away - they leave their mark for life. My 'consolation' is that my children are home with me, so even though it was the toughest time of my life w/out a doubt - I would live through it all a thousand more times to have Zack and Samantha home where they belong.

My thoughts are w/Lauren and I really hope her babies continue to thrive. Please keep us updated.

And take care of yourself, Tertia. I can only imagine how deja vu this is for you.

I will keep her and her babies in my heart as well as you and pray that they will come through and that Adam and Kate will stay-put!!

Thanks so much for sharing Cherith's story! It's so easy to be naive when watching these shows like "Birth Day" because they only show the happy-endings. You see the children born at 24 weeks or so and they're always fine. The truth, which is painfully clear here, is there is no guarantee even with the steroids that your child will survive when born past 24 weeks. What a tragic misconception!! Thanks to you I am more informed and can empathize with the amount of courage required to face this everyday!

and lying with tears plinking on to the breast pump listening to the new born babies wailing and thinking, "how could any new mother let her baby cry? please help that baby!"

being wheeled into the NICU and trying to stand up and look at your baby, but you are in so much pain because your incision is infected that you have so sit and you are so angry at your body for not being stronger and letting you see your babies...

and waking up each morning, slowly, and that those wonderful hazy first seconds where you haven't remembered where your babies are...and then it all seeps back into your bones and you feel weary already.

your pace picks up as you get closer to the NICU and as you get buzzed in and don your mask and gloves you find you are holding your breath. you move into the room, and as you see your baby, then flick your eyes over the machines to check that the o2 levels aren't higher and that bpm is normal you exhale. your day has begun.

lauren honey, i know you have tonnes of friends that are supporting you through this time, if you want one more, let me know.

cherith - great great post. how long was your daughter in the NICU for?

tess

You are all still in my prayers.

I am sitting here, with tears pouring down my face. That so eloquently said what I have been trying to/wanting to say lately.

In my NICU, they were doing construction, and in temporary quarters. The waiting room we had to use whenever they through us out was the same waiting room that L&D used. We had to sit there, watching as moms and babies were transported together to a room. A room they would all be going home from together. You couldn't help but remember your own journey. Only your's was alone, with out your child(ren). It then would bring flashbacks of another time, leaving there without another baby. Only that time, there wasn't a future date to hope for. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I am thinking of you all so very much. You, Lauren, and all the babies. All the other parents and babies experienceing this living nightmare.

Every day I think at least 50 times how lucky, blessed, and outrageously fortunate I am to have not had the experience you NICU vets describe so incredibly vividly. I feel guilty that I was one of those happy moms with a bonny newborn; one of the women from my pre-nate yoga class was visiting her son in the NICU when I was recuperating from my delivery; she was still angry that she'd been advised not to breastfeed her son, born 8 weeks early, no 02 required. I'm sure I said all the wrong things to her. Wish I had read this before then.

Tertia,

I am beyond honored that you have shared my words in your blog. You are such an amazing writer and an inspiration to so many women, I feel humbled that you have included me in your sacred space.

My thanks to everyone for your compliments and well wishes. Thank you all for praying for and thinking of Tertia and Lauren. These women are so near and dear to my heart I feel like I should be able to walk next door and give them a hug.

I was a very lucky NICU mom. As Bridgette said (thanks B!) my son is now a healthy, happy, smiling 18 month old delight. He has some minor speech delays, but is otherwise unscathed by his premature birth. I have included the URL for his website so that you can see some before and after pictures. The NICU pics are at the bottom of the page in the photo gallery. I am not a web master, so it is not the most impressive website. ;)

So many other NICU mommies have been so much less fortunate and my heart breaks for them daily.

I am also fortunate in that Nathan spent less than a month in the NICU. His stay was only a third of fourth of the length of many other NICU sweethearts.

I must also now add a blurb about NICU nurses. In re reading my words, I feel that I have painted them in a bad way. The incident with the photographer did actually occur as did the comment by the nurse who told me to go to the discharge classes.
There was also one grouchy nurse in the NICU who made me feel awful on a daily basis.

But the rest of the nurses were absolutely wonderful. They were supportive, kind, nurturing and a shoulder to cry on when I needed one. For Mother's Day they removed as much from the faces of each of the babies and they could, took real pictures, not polaroids, framed them and gave them to us as gifts when we came to visit that day.

One of the nurses was an artist. For every baby in their care, she drew an elaborate sign with the baby's name, birthday, weight and height. They were beautiful works of art. I still have Nathan's and will keep it forever.

One of the worst parts about having a baby in the NICU is the uncertainty. All you want is concrete answers to two or three simple questions.

Will my baby live?

Will my baby have any long term problems?

When can my baby go home?

I asked these three questions of probably every nurse in the room every single time I visited. I always received 12 different answers to each questions. At first, I blamed the nurses for this. Why were they torturing me? Why could they not get it together and agree on the information they were giving me?

Upon further reflection, I gave up on that anger and came to realize that these women were in an extremely difficult position. They were the sole source of daily information for a group of women who were suffering in ways that few other people can comprehend. I no longer blame them for all the conflicting information, I know that they were doing the best they could. On one occasion a nurse followed me to my car to make sure that I would be ok to drive home.

I have taken Nathan to visit his guardian angles several times. They are still as kind and wonderful as I remember. They hug him and love on him and he flirts and charms them every time. These women will always be in my memory and my heart.

And so KathyH, I want to thank you for being a guardian angel to so many mommys' tiny miracles. I will add you and your baby to my list of prayers.

Tertia, sorry for the blog highjack. ;) I hope you had a good night.

As I am a total blogging virgin, I am sure everyone else already know this...but I just figured out that to see the website I mentioned you have to click on my name.

Just didn't want anyone to think that I am tease. ;)

So much of this is heartbreakingly similar to my own experiences with the NICU. Tertia, my heart absolutely goes out to you and your friends. Nobody should have to go through this, ever.

My little girl has been in the Childrens' Hospital since she was born three months ago and the worst part for me has been how alone I have been in this. I'm glad you all have each other to help you get through.

My personal hell is having one healthy baby (twin brother) at home, and a sick baby in the hospital. I take joy in watching my boy thrive and grow, and feel incredibly guilty for being happy while my little girl is struggling to keep up. The guilt is eating me alive. I wish, like other NICU mom's that I could sit with my baby girl all day and take care of her and watch her and hold her, instead of relying on volunteers and nurses to be with her while I am caring for my son at home who also needs me. I struggle for balance.

Cherith your words are amazing.

And yes, to reinforce what Cherith said, 99% of the nurses are wonderful. The nurse who said that to me was not a NICU nurse. the NICU nurses are angels indeed. Such compassion and such caring for our children.

Tess, I am sure Lauren would love to speak to you, I will make her that kind offer. And Jess as well!

This was a beautiful and horrifying post at the same time. NICU has not been part of my experience - I didn't realize NICU was not separated from the maternity ward. How cruel.

Thanks for educating me. And I am thinking of your friend Lauren.

I've been there. Eleven years ago, my little girl was born in 32th week - much too small for term, they had not noticed my placenta was no longer functioning. The self hate of seeing my baby suffer for my body's imperfection. The other happy mothers. One year of one-and-off hospital visits, after the initial nearly three months NICU.

But but but... we came through this. We have a gorgeous, talented, frail but basically healthy girl. Some months ago we went to the hospital where she was born for a check-up. We hadn't been there for years. I nearly began to cry when I saw the babies, the nurses, and the smell...

the most important thing: a NAME. There were people who told me: why do you give a name to such a tiny child who might not survive? (as if I was "wasting" a beautiful name...) I always said: how will she know that I call her if I don't give her a name? And I sat next to her, calling her name and talking to her, for hours. The nurses thought I was mad but a doctor came by and said: leave her alone, she does the right thing. Her daughter hears her and understands her.

I spent ages there. I had two very young boys (three and one-and-half years old) at home who needed me. It was such a hard time. When my neighbors, expectant mothers together with me, had their babies, and my baby room was still empty, I was so unhappy. But there is no choice, you have to live through every day.

I remember myself praying, I wanted just to go asleep and wake up, everythign is okay.

Today it is. My prayers are with every mother who stands helpless in front of her tiny preemie, tears burning her eyes and her heart crying out. You will have your little hero at home. My daughter loves to hear the story of her fight for survival, all the horrible things are for her badges of pride. She is SO special.

Blessings to all the children and parents out there. This post touched my heart so much, so much.

Tertia,
now Lauren has another person thinking of her and her two little angels. Please keep updating us with their progress.

Adam and Kate will stay put a lot longer, I just know it. For your sanity can you get a contractions monitor at home? Here in the States many women with PTL monitor their contractions at home so they can detect any increase and go to the hospital asap.

Thanks for sharing such a beautiful and heartbreaking account. I hope not one of my friends/relatives will have to go through the NICU' hell, but now I know what my response should be.

Thinking of you and your babes,

LauraN

PS Tertia, how wonderful that you have such strong women keeping you afloat. If there were more people like them the world would be a better place.

It's not only the mothers with a baby in the NICU who have to share a ward with the happy mothers & babies. My friend whose baby died the day he was born -- and the hospital knew this was going to happen in advance, it's not like they couldn't have planned otherwise -- was placed on the regular maternity floor. Her description of lying in bed listening to the healthy babies crying broke my heart.

I have no personal experience with this at all, and I am awed by all of you women who have been through it with such courage and compassion. But if it's not out of place, I wanted to say a word in defense of the parents who did not visit their baby. I find it very hard to believe they did that because they did not care. More likely they loved that baby very much, but were not strong enough to bear the pain. Grief sometimes does terrible things to people. We can judge them for weakness, but not for lack of love.

Cherith, thank you so much. I am very touched by your kindness. :)

Tertia / Lauren --

When your babies are born too early, what should be one of the happiest days of your life becomes one of the worst. Being discharged from the hospital and leaving your baby(ies) behind is a close second. The shock & disbelief. The tubes & wires. The hormones & uncertainty. It's truly horrific and a very cruel exclamation point to an infertility struggle.

I don't have much practice praying or burning candles but have been thinking of supporting the March of Dimes since the birth of my twins, Kate & Clint, at 32w1d on 2.5.04 and their seven week stay in the NICU. I can't think of a better reason than to support and honor another mother of twins. I purchased a virtual band in honor of Lauren's twins. I don't know Lauren so it's very generic. If anyone else is interested in viewing or contributing, you can do so @ http://www.marchofdimes.com/prematurity/b.asp?band_id=13187.

Lauren -- Please know that you are being thought of all over the world and your babies are very loved by people who don't even know you.

Tertia -- If at all possible, try to take a deep breath, exhale and repeat. Thanks for sharing your life with such humor and grace. I am wishing you the best.

Prayers for Lauren and her new ones.

Prayers that your babies stay put Tertia.

The NICU is something you never forget. My twins birthday always brings back those memories even after 24 years.

I went on magnesium sulfate 18 hours after delivery, and was returned back to the perinatal floor for observation. The only room available was the room I had just spent 5.5 weeks in--only now I was alone, and my three babies were downstairs, where I couldn't go because of the mag sulf. I woke in the night, disoriented and confused, and wondered for a minute if I'd dreamed the whole delivery. Awful, awful days.

I pray that Lauren is finding places of refuge and strength during her time of need. Our NICU was blessed with very comfortable pumping rooms, and the heaters could be adjusted. I was always cold in the NICU, and retreating to those warm womblike rooms was a relief.

My prayers are with you, too, Tess. Don't for one minute stop to second-guess yourself, go get an LBC whenever you need one. Peace of mind is priceless.

I spent 6 months straight in the NICU when my daughter was born, and about 3 weeks in the PICU before she died. It's an altered state of reality. I will thinking of your friend.

WOW! This post brought back such unbelievable memories of our 5 weeks in the NICU. My heart goes out to Lauren and her family as they begin their journey.

Just today I was telling my two friends that my worst moment, after 11w of hospital bedrest and delivering my twins 6w early and not being able to even see them for 24 hours after their birth, was WALKING out of the hospital with my bag slung over my shoulder with no babies in my arms. I broke down in the lobby as I watched all the new mommies in wheelchairs with their babies in their arms taking pictures with balloons, family and BIG SMILES. It was an all-time low for me.

Fortunately, we now have two healthy six month olds and I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world. May Lauren and her family find strength through all of this support and their love for their beautiful children.

You know, I was an ICU mom for 14 weeks, a very long time. These words were my thoughts at the time. Thank you Tertia's friend for writing this and also letting T post it.

**Still praying for Lauren and the babes, waiting anxiously for updates**

How true. My daughter is currently in the NICU. She was born at 28 weeks weighing 1 lb. 12 ozs. She now weighs just about 3 lbs and has been there for 5 weeks. This post touched me deeply and tells about life in the NICU better than any I have read before.

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