Sunday, March 15, 2009

Becoming an Empowered NICU Parent

One of the greatest difficulties for me as a NICU parent, who was also used to being a physician, was the overwhelming feeling that there wasn't anything I could do for my daughter.

I had to step back and turn over all of the care to those who understood the NICU technology and could help her medically to heal.

I described these feelings in an article that I wrote on "Observing Mother's Day with Renewed Appreciation," the first Mother's Day after my youngest was born.

In this situation I had to turn over complete control of her case to the neonatology team and consequently experienced feelings of complete helplessness.

The inability to do anything, to contribute to my daughter’s care medically as a physician or emotionally to hold her hand and pacify her as a mother was indescribably frustrating.

How was I supposed to "turn off" my years of training as a physician—being in the hospital, caring for patients and providing them comfort during a tormenting time?

It was impossible.

Becoming an NICU Empowered Parent
It didn't take long, perhaps only a few hours and I decided to change my feeling of helplessness and frustration and begin taking a more active role in her care. I looked for things we could do and ways we could to contribute to her care.

Three things that we did, which were recommended by other NICU parents as helpful ways of coping with the NICU:
  1. Ask questions about your newborn.
  2. Get involved with caring for your newborn.
  3. Familiarize yourself with how the NICU works.
We created a Circle of Healing to have friends and family hold her in their hearts and minds and she could do better.

We brought in Music for her to listen to and if they had been available, I would have brought in Water Blessing Labels as a way to feel that we were doing something.

Ultimately, I created the Violet Heart Pin as something that I would have liked to have had to wear while she was in the NICU. I also wrote the Free NICU eBook For Those Who Hold the Littlest Hands as the resource we would have liked to have received when we were NICU Parents.

I think that's going a long way from feeling helpless and dependent on others to care for my daughter to becoming an Empowered NICU Parent.

Image Source. Benjamin Earwicker. All Hooked Up. Royalty Free Use.

No comments: