Friday, May 22, 2009

Inspirational Story: Micro Preemies Become Adults

This inspirational story comes from the NICU at Children's Hospital in Minnasota. Six former NICU babies, micro preemies, reunited with neonatologist Dr. Ronald Hoekstra, the physician credited with keeping them alive. These six former NICU babies are all college students now.

What is a Micropreemie?
A micropreemie or micro preemie is one that weighs less than 1000 grams, usually between 700-800 grams (1 3/4 pounds) and is born before 26 weeks of gestation. An average pregnancy is 40 weeks, with a weight of somewhere between 6 and 9 pounds.

In the late 1980's babies born before 26 weeks had about a 50% shot at survival. Today their survival rate is nearly 90%.

Dr. Hoekstra's Findings
Hoekstra found in the preemies he studied born from 1986 to 1989 one key to their survival is that they were remarkably resilient.

Even though some of the preemies in the group experienced problems ranging from poor vision to cerebral palsy (about 10 in the group) as a group they have been very successful. Nearly 90% finished high school and nearly 60% have continued on to college.

Dr. Hoekstra believes the key to the success of these micropreemies is eEarly intervention and parental support and follow-up.
"If you hang in there, a lot of these children will surprise you."
You can read more about the Micro Preemies at the article on Type-A Mom.

A related article is on the Type-A Mom site under the NICU section of Mom Stages.

More on the Micro Preemies

Fowler J. May 2009. When Miracle Babies Grow Up! People Magazine.
Dyer K. May 2009. Inspiration from the NICU as Micro Preemies Grow Up. Type-A Mom.
Glick P., Irish M., Caty M., Pearl R. 2000. Pediatric surgery secrets. Elsevier Health Sciences p. 321.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Encouraging Message: Trust Yourself.

The words from one of America's most beloved Pediatricians and author, Dr. Benjamin Spock helped to empower generations of parents. His book Baby and Child Care was published in 1946 and became one of the biggest best-sellers of all time.
Trust yourself.
You know more
than you think you do.

Dr. Benjamin Spock
His message, which was revolutionary for the time, provides encouragement for NICU parents even today.

"Trust yourself" is a very helpful reminder for parents and a gentle aid for parents during troubling time. His simple message "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do" can even be used as helpful mantra for worried NICU parents.

Image: Armin Hanisch. I wanna hold your hand. Royalty Free Use.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Type-A Mom NICU Editor

Type-A Mom editorThis May I am starting as the NICU editor for the Type-A Mom site under Mom Stages. I am honored to be taking on the role as NICU editor for their expanding and growing site and look forward to being able to provide information and resources for NICU parents with Type-A Mom.

I written articles for Type-A Mom and Foodie Mama since the early days of both sites and have written several NICU articles for them. When the opening came up, I thought about it for a while and decided to go for it.

I am waiting for them to get my name and picture up, but you can read the articles under the NICU section at Type-A Mom. I will try to post links from this blog so you can read along.

Monday, May 11, 2009

NICU Family Support from the March of Dimes

For NICU parents who have the a NICU Family Support Specialist from the March of Dimes present in their hospital, this support person can be an invaluable aid in helping them get adjusted to the NICU.

NICU Family Support was developed to provide information and comfort to those families in crisis. The program is built on a family-centered philosophy and is implemented nationwide through March of Dimes chapters.

This video clip from the March of Dimes describes more about the role of the NICU Family Support Specialist.

You can check the March of Dimes website to locate your local March of Dimes Chapter.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Forgotten NICU Grievers: Fathers, Siblings & Gransparents

Whenever a newborn gets admitted to the NICU, many people are affected by the unexpected admission. The baby's parents are often the first people who come to mind, Mom and then Dad, but there are other people impacted as well and may be feeling the many NICU losses.

Other family members that need to be considered are the siblings and grandparents of the NICU baby. Fathers, siblings and grandparents are often the Forgotten NICU Grievers, those feeling the impact of the NICU admission as well as the mother, but often overlooked.

Most of the literature looks at Forgotten Grievers as the fathers, siblings and grandparents when a death occurs. I am looking at Forgotten NICU grievers as the fathers, siblings and grandparents who are grieving the many losses that occur with a NICU admission.

Because of the way that men are raised and socialized in our society, men are taught that they need to be strong, to be the "rock" for the family, to attend to practical matters, but not show any emotion and not grieve losses.

NICU Fathers may be left wondering...

When is it my turn to cry? I'm not sure society or my upbringing will allow me a time to really cry, unafraid of the reaction and repercussion that might follow. I must be strong, I must support my wife because I am a man. I must be the cornerstone of our family because society says so, my family says so, and, until I can reverse my learned nature, I say so.
It is easy to see how fathers' grieving losses, like a NICU admission, may regard themselves as "forgotten NICU grievers" or "second class grievers." Friends and family may readily acknowledge that the mother is grieving the loss, but figure that the father is handling it, so not acknowledge that he is grieving as well.

Siblings need to be considered, because their schedules have been disrupted. Older brothers and sisters may be sent to stay with grandparents, aunts or uncles, while their parent or parents are in the NICU tending to the baby.

Children can grieve a change in schedule and may have difficulty adjusting to a baby in the NICU. We were fortunate with our oldest in that she did not act out that much during our NICU Adventure. She had been looking forward to having the baby, so was upset when the new baby didn't get to come home right away.

As our youngest started getting better, we were able to take our older daughter to the hospital with us, which made it much easier to deal with the situation.

The main issue in our case was that, try as I might, I was unable to find a book that was appropriate for having a baby in the NICU who wasn't a preemie and would be coming home soon. The book resources at the time focused on premature babies only and babies who were dying or died in the NICU.


Grandparents are very frequently overlooked as forgotten grievers, when a baby gets admitted to the NICU. They are also in the unique position of "doubly grieving" or experiencing "double pain" with a NICU admission. Not only do Grandparents have to manage the pain of a grandchild being in the NICU, they also have to manage the pain of watching their adult child grieving his or her own losses, when that child gets admitted to the NICU.

Grandparents are "forgotten grievers", often not considered part of the immediate grieving family.

I was amazed by how much my daughter's NICU admission impacted my own father. He continued for many years after her hospitalization recounting and remembering how lucky we were that everything had worked out as well as it did. It may have been more difficult for my father than my mother when my youngest was in the NICU, because he did not visit her while she was in the NICU.

Helping the Forgotten NICU Grievers
Key to helping the forgotten NICU grievers is to consider all of the members that may be impacted by a NICU admission parents, siblings, grandparents and even extended family like cousins, aunts an uncles.

Finding ways to get the other family members involved can be helpful. They might be able to run errands, watch siblings, answer phone calls from friends, set up a website like CarePages or Caring Bridge to keep everyone informed.


Dyer KA. 2007. For Those Who Hold the Littlest Hands. NICU Parents Support.

More about Forgotten Grievers
National SIDS Resource Center 1997. Fathers -- The Forgotten Grievers. The SIDS Network of Kansas, Inc. 1997. The Death Of A Child - The Grief Of The Parents: A Lifetime Journey. National SIDS Resource Center.
Heavilin M. Siblings, The Forgotten Grievers. Redlands Chapter of the Compassionate Friends.
O'Grady T. 2009. The forgotten grievers. Comments.
O'Grady T. 2009. Forgotten grievers: an exploration of the grief experiences of grandparents. Letters to the Editor. Offal Express.

Images: Horton Group. Meeting the New Baby. Royalty Free Use.
Pierre Amerlynck. Old Couple. Royalty Free Use.