Thursday, June 9, 2011

NICU Update

I haven't talked about the NICU in awhile, actually haven't even worked that many shifts lately. This is partly because I was out of town for Liam's burial for a few of my shifts and then Dereck and I were both sick so I was not able to go in. On the days I have made it in, like this afternoon for instance, I have felt little to no desire to really be there.

Recently it has seemed that every baby I have been holding has coincidentally been born at the same number of weeks and approx. the same weight as Liam was. These babies are still in the NICU and are now 1-3 months old. I am happy that they are still fighting and growing and have made such progress since they were born so early, but it pains me all at the same time. Why does it seem to be bothering me more now than it did a few months ago when I first started?

When I first started volunteering in the NICU I wanted so badly to make Liam proud and do whatever I could do to help other little babies thrive since I could no longer do that for my own son. A few months later I still think the program is phenomenal but feeling like my need to want to be in the NICU was beyond just trying to help other babies. I'm starting to feel like maybe it had more to do with me trying to fill this void I was missing in my own life. That since I couldn't hold and cuddle Liam then I could go to the NICU and do that with another baby, and for those 2 hours that void could be filled.

I had said in the beginning that other happy babies with their happy families bothered the crap out of me, but yet I could handle the babies in the NICU fine. So what has changed with me? Is it because I have seen so many babies recently that have been so close to Liam's number of weeks at birth doing so well. Knowing that if he wouldn't have died in surgery that day that he could be continuing to grow just like these babies. I am thinking it also might be related to the fact that I am ttc again. I know I can volunteer in there through my next pregnancy but just don't think I could handle it. I thought about asking if I could work less hours but I think even being in there I am going to get paranoid that if one of the babies has an infection somehow it'll spread to my growing baby. I also don't want to bail on them either. The hospital had to pay to get us fingerprinted and do orientations with us at no cost to us and I also had to get extra shots to be in the NICU. They also wanted at least a 6 month commitment.

I have also been thinking about my next baby and how this will most likely be the hospital I will deliver him at. Liam of course was not delivered here since we had the surgery in San Francisco and there was not a neurosurgeon in Alaska that would have been able to give Liam the care he would have needed as a Spina Bifida baby even if we would have chose to not do the surgery. So even though I haven't delivered in this hospital before I know the NICU and in the 9 months of carrying my next baby if I were to stay volunteering I will know it even better. Which I guess could be a good thing but I don't know if I want to get that close to any of the nurses there. I don't talk to them much now but what if I am pregnant and showing and then they start asking questions about other children, etc. Do I tell them? I mean they are NICU nurses, I am sure they have seen and heard there fair share of sick or dying baby stories. I guess I am thinking too far ahead but thinking about what if I don't get my happy ending next time or that baby is in the NICU for long periods of time.

I know I am thinking way too much about this, can't help it, its the paranoid, crazy, worrier in me. I can guarantee one thing though and that is if I continue in the NICU until I have my next baby, no matter how early he/s he is born, I'll have had plenty of experience holding preemies and have a little bit of a good knowledge base of what they need when they are that small.


  1. When my baby was in nicu, there was a nicu nurse who was about 7 months pregnant. At seven months I had already given birth. Your post just brought her image back to my memory.
    I wish you get pregnant soon and this time there will be healthy baby to take home. Wish you very very best

  2. Becky, As my therapist pointed out to me the other day. I need to do what feels right. At first this may have been good for you to go to the NICU but maybe now since you are ttc it may be too much. Just be gentle with yourself and if you decide to stop at the NICU I am sure everyone there will understand. I hope you have a good week. Thinking of you and Liam. Hugs to you.

  3. I think it is amazing that you are volunteering in the NICU at all. Although the hospital did the fingerprinting and all that, try not to feel guilty about leaving if that is what you need to do. Anytime volunteering there is better than no time, and I'm sure if you explain why you are leaving sooner than the 6 month commitment, they would understand unless they are totally uncompassionate people.

    I used to volunteer at a Children's Hospital several years ago. I always thought it would be ironic if I ended up having a child who needed to be treated there. Turns out, I would have. If Jacob had lived, he definitely would have been a patient there, at least for 1 or 2 surgeries.

    Another thing that would worry me abour volunteering int he NICU when pregnant is radiation. Don't they bring in X-ray machines when a preemie needs an xray because it is dangerous to move the baby? Maybe they don't anymore, but I wouldn't want to be near anywhere near that if I was pregnant.

  4. You are incredibly strong to be able to do what you are doing. Especially after everything you have been through.

  5. Sorry to hear the NICU thing isn't working out that well. Actually, I bet it is, but not as a replacement for your own child. I've read on a couple of your posts now about you being out of town and I have been meaning to ask, did you have the burial in MN?

  6. As a former NICU nurse I absolutely can relate to this post. I wasn't able to go back to the NICU after Aidan died. No way. I didn't want to have to care for other people's babies when mine was dead. A few weeks after Aidan died one of my NICU nurse friends told me that she admitted a 24 weeker his weight was less than Aidan's. That kind of made me sad and a little proud of my boy because he was slightly younger, but heavier. I knew if I went back there I couldn't keep it together and be supportive of his family when MY son who so resembled theirs was dead.
    Do what you need to do for yourself. Is there anyway you could switch to a different area of the hospital for volunteering? After Aidan died I went to work on a pediatric floor and I was really enjoying it (before my most recent bed rest made me stop). It made me remember how much I really LIKED kids, but also helped me not put parenting and the desire to parent on such a pedestal. Parenting isn't all rainbows and happiness and even having a living child doesn't solve all life's problems. Plus it helped me to see those kids belong to someone else. I don't miss them and they don't take the place of my son. But I can enjoy their personalities and enjoy being with them without it reminding me of what I've lost. The kids were also such a good distractor from my own problems. I would get busy helping them, talking to them, and be able to put Aidan aside in a way I just knew I wouldn't be able to in the NICU. Good luck in whatever you decide.

  7. I have learned to do what ever is best for me, and not worry about anyone else. Easier said than done, I know firsthand as well, but you are the only one that can protect your heart after losing Liam. I often ask myself can I do this? and if my instant response is not YES, than I generally don't do it. I need to really feel that something is right for me before I will agree to it. Thinking of you and wishing you luck ttc and sorting out what will be best for you! ((hugs))

  8. Emily- I have thought about you quite often in regards to the NICU since you had worked there.

    There are lots of areas that I could volunteer, like in the Children's hospital, cancer center, could even be a greeter, just not sure I would be happy in any other area either. Maybe I'll just avoid the hospital until I absolutely have to be there.

  9. I would say do whatever you feel is right for you. Now that you're TTC again, you're in a different situation & moment in your grief, so don't push yourself too much. Praying that you figure out what is best for you!

  10. Stephanie- Liam is buried in Grand Forks, ND which is right on the border of Minnesota about an hour north of Fargo. He is buried on top of Dereck's dad.

    Dana- I actually tech x-rays for a living and since I have been vounteering there I have been right next to a baby getting x-rayed. If I were pregnant and they needed to x-ray a baby near me again I would definitely get a lead apron put on.


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