When I was struggling through the NICU stay with my daughter Becky, I have to say I felt totally lost in ways to help her through all of that. Yet looking back now I realize my parent instinct was there all along. That is why I tell parents to always trust their gut on something either in the hospital or at home or in the school years.
- You knew this child first, before anyone else did. I knew more about Becky’s personality, her nature before even my husband did. Every kick, every little bump told me that I had a gentle spirit in my womb. When Becky was born and in the NICU, I struggled with getting to know her outside of my body. Yet the first time I was able to hold her the better part of a week later, I quickly picked up that she knew I was there.
- When things seem off. Noticing anything that seems slightly off with your child? I bet you picked up on it faster than anyone else. When my daughter was two years old and bounded into a wall by accident I immediately suspected she was having her first ear infection even though I had never had one myself. It turned out I was right.
- You likely know more than the NICU team about your child. Remember you are around your child far more than any doctor, any nurse or any specialist on a given day. You get to know certain things about your child that others don’t so never, ever think that your opinion does not matter. It does matter. Speak up!
- You definitely know more about your child than your pediatrician. One of the most important things you need to remember is that you are partnering with the pediatrician, not asking the pediatrician for permission to care for your child in a certain way. Often times you will find that the “preemie” phrase gets tossed out in the first visit or so but after that it is as if your child was born full-term and without any concerns. The reality is pediatricians are generalists and they often do not have any real education on premature babies unless they have an interest in that area. Got a concern? Speak up! Got a concern that is not being listened to at all? Repeat it and make it clear what you are concerned about and what you believe needs to be done. This is especially important surrounding issues like developmental concerns.
I had to learn these lessons the hard way so learn from me. Now I am very clear about my concerns about anything related to my daughter and I have been extremely vocal about what I feel is a concern and what I expect from the person I am working with directly. It helps. So I hope this helps you.
Deb Discenza is the Founder and CEO/Publisher of PreemieWorld, LLC and the co-Author to The Preemie Parent’s Survival Guide to the NICU. (https://PreemieWorld.com). She also runs the free Inspire Preemie Community, 40,000+ strong at http://preemie.inspire.com