Charlie had the reunion for her second NICU yesterday. I found it to be much easier than the reunion for her first NICU. As Charlie, my husband, and I socialized with her former care takers, I noticed that we were only speaking of the good things.
We never mentioned how difficult the past year had been for us. It occurred to me that this may be one of the ways preemies become anecdotes. For all the future NICU parents who may hear the anecdote of Charlie, this is what I want you to know:
- A year after discharge, it is not “over” for us. We remain working with doctors and nurses, watching and waiting, learning about new issues, and living in a world that does not understand. We have yet to reach that “happily ever after” you may have been told about.
- While post NICU parenting is exhausting and stressful, there is a great deal of joy, excitement, and happiness. This is what you are being told about. Don’t let all the weariness and worry rob you of it.
- Once you take your baby home, the reins are in your hands. In the NICU, the nurses noted and addressed any abnormalities or concerns. When the baby comes home, it is up to you. This means becoming comfortable with asking doctors and nurses many questions and initiating appointments as needed. Every day, I cringe when I see a parent asking a question to an internet group that should be addressed by a doctor.
- Every baby is different. I can not emphasize this enough. An ailment that is devastating for one baby may be a non issue for another baby and vice versa. Our post NICU reality may be completely different from yours.
Charlie playing at her NICU reunion.