On October 11, 1965 a child was born at 30 weeks. She was not breathing at birth. The doctor was to visit with her three hours later to offer her comfort and solace on the loss of her child only to be informed that her daughter was alive and in the neonatal unit of the hospital. What the doctor did not know is a nurse gave the infant cpr for two and a half hours untils she could breath on her own. That child suffered many seizures in her young life and was on phenobarbital for several years. Her mother said she slept for five days after being taken off of it at age four. At age five she had eye surgery for a lazy eye. She was a precocious kid who never met a stranger and too this day is a social butterfly. That child was me. And my parents were living in Japan far away from home and had only friends to support them.I will never know what my parents went through, but I know my Mom was a loving support to me all the days of her life!
Friday March 23 I went to the second annual seminar called Supporting the Social Emotional Development of children who Suffer from Prematurity. It was interesting to sit and hear all of the issues children who are premature suffer from knowing I was one of those children. I can tell you the difference I did not hear was how important it is to help parents understand the issues but, to still expect the most out of their children. I think this is the most important thing we can give to parents of NICU kids. But, that is for another post. This post is about offing support to people as they are going through this time of their lives.
These parents need support in their everyday lives. Everything you can do to help them on the short and long-term to help life along as they practically live at he hospital will be a big help. Here are a few suggestions.
- Parking is a big deal. Most hospitals have a certain period of time a patient must be in the hosptial before they wave parking. Give them a donation to help with the fees.
- Prepare snacks that can be eaten at the hospital. Eating is something many parents either fail to think about or can hardly afford. Put together a package of healthy snacks for them. Make sue to include fruit, veggies, and protein in your snack choices. Have some junk too but make it mostly health conscious.
- Clean their house. Parents get home sometimes and having a clean house they can just relax in and be at peace is a real blessing!
- Do their laundry. Help keep them in clean clothes and off need be take them clean clothes to the hospital.
- Encourage them to leave the hospital and go to est or a movie. Get them out of the fire for a few hours.
- Remember Dad is just as overwhelmed as Mom. In these situations a lot of men feel very frustrated they consider themselves the protectors of their families and in this situation they are helpless and can do very little in the circumstances. They need their guy friends to be there for support. Take them out to box or shoot. They have a lot of pent up aggression, fear, and angst.
- Be loving and supportive. In other words just listen. Unless you have been through it there is nothing you can really say. But, listening and being a shoulder is important.
- Find support groups for them to go to and connect with other NICU parents. There is something cathartic about being around others who are going through or have been through the same experiences as you. Get the information and let them kn ow about it. Don't push when they are ready they will ask.
- Just sit with them in the waiting room. NICU waiting rooms can be lonely places. Get a group of friend or church members to take turns sitting with the parents and supporting them. Just having someone to sit with you can be very helpful and help parents feel less alone.
- Pray with and for them during this time and beyond. The prayers of the righteous avail much. Just talking to God about their situation can bring amazing relief. When my Mother passed I can tell you it was the prayers of those who loved her and me which got me through. There are no words to hell you what prayer support can do for someone in this situation.
- Just be there for them in whatever way you can!
Know that this journey can be long and hard just having your baby in the NICU for a few days is hard and stressful. But, when it gets to be one, three, four months or longer it can weigh down a family. The longer the child neexds to be there the more support they need. Be there! Love them, support them, get down in the trenches with them and help them fight. You are like the men who helped Moses by holing up his hands. Hold them up and be there to celebrate when their child leaves the NICU and again when they come home. Be a brue friend to these Moms and Dads do not leave them to fight alone become brothers and sisters in arm. Help them to fight the good fight and WIN!!
Believe in Parening
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