Must be some bad mushrooms ’cause I’m having NICU flashbacks…

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Okay, I’m not really taking mushrooms…that would just be irresponsible. I mean, it’s only 11 AM. Kidding again, that kind of tom foolery is reserved for bored high school kids. I plead the fifth…I was there but I never drank that tea, I tell you!

Wow, that just got weird, didn’t it? (Awkward silence commences)

But anyhoo…yesterday Jp was in a “feisty” mood and I had a memory pop to the surface that I had completely forgotten about for ages and the moment that it came to the forefront of my mind, I couldn’t stop giggling about it and I thought that I should share.

When we were in the NICU, we had a pair of parents that were much, much younger than us as bedside neighbors (my NICU moms know what that is!). I mean, really young, say 20 or 21. Now, I parked my post-op behind up there from the moment my husband left for work until he was to be off in the evenings. I put in 7-9 hour NICU days since we lived pretty far from the hospital that he was transferred to (anyone under 32 weeks had to go to the big daddy NICU clear across town). Though I rarely saw them. I saw the sweet baby, he was a fussy little one and required a ton of attention, but the good kind, the being held kind, not the holy-goodness-his-scary-alarm-went-off-again kind (again, my NICU moms know the difference). So he was always found being rocked by one of the angels of the NICU next to me rocking my little guy. I always wondered where the parents were but just assumed they came in the evenings when I was home trying to recuperate from my C-section.

One afternoon they were there together, which was rare, and they couldn’t have looked more out of place (maybe it’s a tiny bit judgmental of me but they looked like they were going to a club and not standing in a hospital). They were, as I mentioned, quite young, and looked petrified of the information that they were receiving. They were bring prepped for an “overnight” (Non-NICU parents, this is a night in a controlled environment in the hospital that looks much like an apartment so that you can do your first night “alone” with a preemie with a nurses call button in case of emergency). I remember feeling so terrible for them. At that age, the last thing that was on my mind was caring for a baby, much less a high risk, special needs infant that until that moment had been hooked up to a million wires and had round the clock care. It was daunting. My heart went out to them for having to go down this road so young and ill prepared.

Then the thought went out of my mind and I went back to making sure Jp was drinking full bottles consistently.

The next day, as I arrived to camp out for the day, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a new edition to the sterile environment. A roomful of police officers. While sitting there can be boring at best, I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. What the nurse said is something that I didn’t pay much heed to but, in hindsight, really should have.

(Please note, this is extraordinarily paraphrased and is no way a direct quote of anyone)

Officer: So what happened last evening, ma’am?

Nurse: Well, the Blanks (obviously a name change) were here for an overnight and the nurses were called because the couple were arguing loudly and when we arrived, it had turned violent and they had to be asked to leave.

Officer: Is it possible that the parents are capable, in your opinion, of taking the child?

Nurse: If they receive some type of counseling first, I do not see why the mother, at least, wouldn’t be able to care for the child.

Officer: Is there anything about caring for children of prematurity that would them a more difficult child to care for?

Nurse: Preemies can be high needs children, at times, they are more prone to being fussy and difficult children. They can have a variety of medical issues. Yes, these children can be certainly more challenging than your average child.

I have no idea why I chose to completely put that memory out of mind. NICU can be a very stressful time and some of it does seem like a blur in hindsight. Besides, at the time, Jp had not so much at peeped, much less cried or wailed, and I thought he was going to be a mellow little guy (he “woke up” at his gestational age, though, and fussy became an understatement). I never thought of that couple or that statement ever again.

How funny, watching Jp throw the mother of all tantrums because I wouldn’t give him a cookie (shock, shock, shocker…), that that particular moment just popped into my brain.

I wonder what happened to those parents and that little boy? I wonder if the strain was too much for them. I never had to do an overnight (Jp’s health was exemplary and I put in full nurse shifts every day so I wasn’t required to) so I don’t know if the event was a stressful one, but I do know what it’s been like raising him day to day. Sometimes I hit the bed and give myself a mental pat on the back for being awesomely patient and understanding and others I lie awake and try to think of better ways to keep it together tomorrow. I would be a dirty liar if I didn’t admit that Chris and I have had our fair share of “discussions” about how to raise Jp and it would be an even bigger lie to say that we always saw eye to eye. Parents fight, that’s a fact, and bringing up a child with special needs amplifies those types of disagreements. The area is grayer and it becomes more theory than fact at times.

Last night I sat up thinking about how I need to start paying better attention when people tell me things (or I hear or read them) about my son or kids in general and not just tune them out with a “not my Jp” attitude.

Hindsight, as always, 20/20. Infuriating how that works, isn’t it?

Photo Credit: www.cimit.org

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Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Oh, how I remember my days and days and days in NICU. I pumped so much breast milk that we bought and donated a freezer just for the purpose. Thanks for bringing all that back to me, along with the thankfulness that it’s over, though I must say there are a few nurses I miss…

    • Those nurses are angels! But my favorite was a no nonsense guy that always gave it to me straight. He wasn’t warm and fuzzy but he was just the angel I needed at the time! How early was your son?

  2. Your post gave me “flashbacks.” And don’t feel bad we had a younger couple in the NICU with us. I’ll never forget them. They named their twins the same name (boy and girl) just spelled differently. No police were involved but…as a habitual people watcher, they definitely took my mind off of things a time or two.

    • I can’t imagine parenting a preemie at that age (mine is a super handful)! I have blogging friends that do that and more and I am always so in awe of them since at that age…I was the furthest thing from patient and selfless. 🙂

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