What Not To Say To A Nicu Mum

(Massively aware I'm still sporting a bump, but this was around 8 hours after I gave birth so let me off!)
Something I don't like to discuss, is Patricks start in life, which is incredibly difficult as it should be one of the happiest times of your life, but as you may know it truly wasn't for us. In fact, I'd without a doubt say it was the worst experience I think I'll ever have to deal with. But it's World Prematurity week so I'm wearing my badge proudly (not literally - there isn't badges) that I am a NICU mum. I tube fed my son with syringes and acid strips, I learned to change a nappy through tiny portholes of an incubator, I set helplessly as machines beeped all around my baby, listened to his cries as he experienced lumbar punctures, waiting anxiously outside the room staring at the 'Do not enter - operation in progress' on the door, and I am proud because it's an horrendous situation to be in, but we made it out of the other side, we fought on and we're okay. Along my way into motherhood with Patrick, I learned a few little phrases that not so helpful people like to say, some unknowingly hurting your feelings, others with an air of smugness (crazy right?). I thought I'd share with you some of those sentences, you probably shouldn't let slip out of your mouth.

'So where is your baby?' - Often blurted out by the new breakfast lady each morning as I was still on the maternity ward. I mean, really is it ANY of your business, because you work here doesn't give you the right to know what's going on with every patient. Plus, what if my baby didn't make it, are you going to make me relive that by discussing it with you? Just don't bother. Assume the worst and a simple 'It'll be ok' works fine.

'36 weeks isn't really premature though' - You're right, I don't know what all this fuss is about. Perhaps don't believe every single thing the baby apps tell you, because P was premature at 36 weeks - in fact his lungs weren't developed and he had to undergo a serious procedure to mature them. Saying something like that is just trying to undermine someone. Can you believe someone I considered a friend genuinely tweeted this phrase though?

'Will he be delayed?' - Probably the last thing on my mind, ever. The fact he survived is enough for me, the fact he is here, breathing, smiling, laughing. A bonus is he isn't showing any signs of being delayed, but a bonus that is, I truly couldn't care less if he was. He could sit in a babygrow in my arms till he's a gummy 18 year old and I'd still be content.

'You'll appreciate him more now' - I would appreciate my baby healthy or unhealthy, and to say such a thing is almost an insult to Noah. Both my children are loved and appreciated equally. What I don't do is take for granted I have my baby, because we very nearly didn't and that thought is unbearable.

'Would you have more children?' - I find this statement such a huge discredit to Patrick, as if he would put me off more children. In truth, we don't really know if we want more in the future, but we know we don't want any more for now. Experiencing PPROM once, makes it incredibly more likely to happen again, but that wouldn't stop me expanding my family, as my pregnancy would be watched a lot closer.

'Awh poor guy' - No, no, not poor guy. Amazing guy, what a fighter, gosh isn't he so strong, he's a trooper. They suit the bill better to me, he isn't poor, life thrust this upon him and he managed to fight through all the odds, and he's here now, at 5 months, and you would't know a thing.

Personally, I wouldn't have known myself what to say to someone going through something like this. Whether it's the lady in the room next to me on the Maternity ward, or a friend who's had a poorly baby. But a few tips I've learned now, 'I'm here if you want to chat', 'They're a fighter' or 'It'll be ok', work perfectly, you don't need to ask questions or nosy just be there for someone. Being a preemie or nicu mum is really bloody tough, don't add more insult to injury.
My Petit Canard

12 comments :

  1. Bless you from one nicu mum to another. I couldn't agree mire with all of these points. I had a 35weeker and lost count of the times I was told well shes not really premature is she? Yes she is, she spent time in scurvy but we were lucky she had developed well and was released in two days. My third baby was born at 29 weeks and members of my family couldn't understand why they couldn't visit. She had a serious infection under developed lungs and later meningitis and we limited visits to grandparents and aunts. People don't k ow how hard it can be unless they have been there yet sometimes you just want a congratulations they are incredible. I even remember having someone said I'll send a card when she comes home because you know anything could happen. That made me feel great. #MarvMondays

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for this post. It is very hard to know what to say to people in that situation and sometimes well intentioned statements cause the most damage so it's very kind of you to let people know how they can be positive in that situation. So happy your Patrick is home with you #marvmondays

    ReplyDelete
  3. My daughter had a baby at 35 weeks and it was hard enough for her as was. Thankfully, as far as I know, nobody was callous enough to say any of these things to her. I can imagine why some of those comments would have been very upsetting.

    (Unhinged mummy stopping by from #marvmondays)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been there twice and my god the amount of times I just wanted to ll people to shut the f up! Its so important to raise awareness of prematurity and how its not "just a small baby". Thanks so much for sharing for #marvmondays

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've been there twice and my god the amount of times I just wanted to ll people to shut the f up! Its so important to raise awareness of prematurity and how its not "just a small baby". Thanks so much for sharing for #marvmondays

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ahh I can only imagine how hard it must be to get these questions. Who on earth would actually ask are they going to be delayed.....bizarre. Popping over from #marvmondays

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is such a helpful post as I never know what to say in difficult situations like these. I always feel like I have my foot in my mouth, but I do know that mostly people just want to know you are there for them and you dont need to fill awkward silences with cliches etc. What you went through is one of the hardest things I can ever imagine, you and your boy are definitely fighters lovely.. x Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well done for sharing this, I think people struggle to know what to say in certain situations and I would be mortified if I offended someone who was already going through a tough time. I think it's good to realise that just holding someone's hand and saying nothing can sometimes be the most helpful thing in the world. #MarvMondays

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The only thing I would want to say is "What can I do? How Can I help and what do you need" whether that's a quick house clean, grabbing hot teas or food, babysitting siblings for a bit...anything like that that's practical really #MarvMondays

    ReplyDelete
  11. That must have been so hard to go through. But you sound like a strong mama. Thank you for sharing. #marvmondays

    ReplyDelete