Thursday, September 6, 2012

NICU Nurses

I recently read an article written by a NICU nurse about "Caring for NICU parents". (Read the article, and it's comments, here). In short the nurse talks about how all to often it's easy to loose focus of the parents and how they are "patients" too in some sort.

I think she did a fabulous job of reminding her collegues how important a parent's role in the NICU can be, and how important it is not to loose sight of the fact that "we" as parents need support and care to. Be it taking the time to help a mom hold her baby for the first (or 31st) time or reassuring them, when they call at 2am, that their little one is just fine. I have seen a small handful of nurses (and even doctors) who often loose sight and focus soley on caring for the preemie (which yes is their maing job, but the letting the parents play a role is HUGE).

First I want to say that I am so lucky that I personally didn't encounter mainy of these situations during our 153 day (total) NICU stay. Most of our nurses were absolutely fabulous and treated me with such respect and compassion. They often offered to include me in the care of Addison and Blake, be it taking a temperature, changing a diaper, or giving a bath. The nurses who had Blake and Addison most often became like family to us. I never felt like I was bothering them if I called 1 time or 25 times during their shift. And I always knew that the twins were in great hands if I couldn't be there. Those nurses made me that comfortable and made a very trying & stressful time in my life that much easier to get through.

Yes we did have 2 nurses who were my least favorite and always seemed too busy to be bothered. And both of them were removed from their care team. I sat in the NICU and watched a nurse tell Addison "Oh behave and stop being foolish" and ignoring her "High Stat" alarm instead of turning down her O2 for over 15 minutes while she checked her email and sent a text message. This was the same nurse who gave me flack for trying to soothe Blake and not immediately picking him up and cuddling him when he was screaming his head off and I was trying to make a bottle, and as soon as it was made I stuck it in his mouth long enough for him to settle so I could pick him up. (This was once Blake was discharged and we were visiting Addison.) She had the nerve to tell me "You wouldn't get away with that behavior if you were breastfeeding." Thank you, nurse who knows nothing about me or my children, for  reminding me yet again how my body failed me. I could not pump enough breastmilk to feed the twins and breastfeeding did not work. But thanks for critiquing my parenting. Plus cut me some slack, I was new at parenting and he had only been home for a day or two at the most. I was doing the best I could at the time.

And who could forget about the nurse who told me "Blake was drinking to slowly and I didn't have time to be bothered so I just tube fed him the rest of his bottle." NOT COOL, especially when we were working toward all oral feeds for discharge. He had been doing great for a day or two and suddenly "you couldn't be bothered".

There are ways to address parents. No you don't have to walk on egg shells but be compassionate and considerate. No way I could let that nurse continue to care for him. Unfortunatly due to staffing issues, we also had her the night before discharge, but I was staying the night with him. I walked in for the night and this nurse tells me. "He had a Brady last feeding, they aren't sending him home." My heart sank and I almost lost my cool. Instead I took a deep breath and asked to talk to the NP, I had already knew about the Brady episode, and he was coming home on a monitor, never once during the day shift was I told that wasn't happening. The NP was equally confussed and assured me that all things still pointed to homecoming and even informed the nurse of this. Thankfully from that point forward the night went smoothly and yes Blake came home the next day.

This is not to say that I haven't made a judgement call too quickly. I remember in the beginning of our NICU stay one nurse had Addison for several shifts. I was so frustrated because I felt like this nurse was just poking and proding at my fragile baby more then needed. As I came out of the haze of everything that as happening, I realized that same nurse who I complained about and felt like was "doing too much" was actually a HUGE player in Addison's survival. At the time I didn't realize just how sick Addison was and that this was all "needed" for her to survive. Once it all clicked, I felt horrible, just horrible. I will forever be greatful for this nurse, and even more greatful that she gracefully accepted my apologies and forgave me for my ignorance. Not only is she an amazing nurse, but she is a beautiful person for handling it all with grace. (P.s. if you are reading this, I am also sorry that my daughter is as stubborn as me and gave you such a run for your money those nights/days.)

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