On National Neonatal Nurses Day.... I actually Feel like it's the NICU Families that should be celebrated~
After over 15 years of working in the NICU, I have had countless parents of patients say to me “I don’t know how you do what you do. You are truly a HERO.” And every year on National Neonatal Nurses Day I am showered by wonderful Happy Neonatal Nurses Day Messages that warm my heart and are truly humbling! I suppose myself, and the thousands of other NICU nurses that are being celebrated today have been witnessed by parents, coming to work every day with strength, with knowledge and with skill. Parents have seen us come into the unit with a heart big enough to hold a sacred space for families in crisis, to support the grieving, to uphold those that feel like they are falling and to find ways to celebrate the smallest of accomplishments and successes.
It’s a tough job…. no one can argue that. We go through the emotional roller coaster of the NICU journey along with each and every family. We are able to feel their pain, we help carry their fears and burdens, and we rejoice in the baby steps these fragile yet strong little ones take each and every day. So how do I answer their question? How do I do what I do? How do WE, as NICU nurses, do what we do? …………………I want to ask them the very same question.
How do they come to an unknown environment every day despite being terrified, overwhelmed and exhausted? How do they face uncertainty up close and personal every moment of every day and still manage to show an outpouring of love and strength to their baby and family? How do they make decisions they never imaged they would have to make? How do they leave a child in the hands of complete strangers each night and trust that everything will be fine?
For me, the nurses do incredible work, but they are not the hero’s in the NICU. It’s the families; moms, dads, big brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends who support one another through the unknown who are the HEROS. As nurses, we CHOSE this career, we CHOSE this profession and we CHOSE to practice neonatal nursing. Families never chose to need an NICU. Yet they come with strength, are open to knowledge and come into our open hearts to gain the skills they need to help their baby grow and thrive!
Families…. You are the HERO’s of the NICU! Happy Neonatal Day to all of you! To all of us!
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For several years I was a family support specialist in a level III NICU and spent countless hours planning, preparing for and hosting parent hours and family events. I had read the abundant research that was available stating how important peer-to-peer support was for NICU families and I wanted to ensure that our unit was offering plenty of opportunities for families to connect with one another, especially once we had transitioned to a a single room unit design. I understood quite well that the long term physical and mental health outcomes of the neonates we were caring for relied heavily on the mental health of the parents while they were in our care during the NICU journey.
Yet despite careful planning and doing all I could to make accommodations to ensure the majority of families could attend, we had terribly low attendance to every event we offered. I would find myself getting so frustrated and so many times I wanted to give up. Why continue to go to so much trouble of planning and hosting events when no one would show up?
Well, instead of giving up....... I realized I had to just get creative!
When a baby winds up in the NICU, parents and families often feel overwhelmed with emotions and questions.
The list of what's and how's are endless and are so stressful for families and as a NICU nurse, I have always wanted to have a simple resource to provide families that would give them answers to all of their biggest questions in one place. Yet there are so many things that I have never been able to find a comprehensive source that has felt supportive and beneficial.
That is until I found this............
I absolutely LOVE finding great resources on line, especially ones that are easy to read, fun, factual and even bring a little humor into the subject.
Let's face it.... when it comes to parenting and motherhood.... things can be difficult and not always pleasant. I know for me, when I first started looking things up on line when I found out I was pregnant, I was not happy to learn things such as:
And this was all going to happen before I left the hospital!!!! This was no beautiful birth miracle that people made it out to be! Fast forward to the massive diaper blow outs, your kid's vomit that you catch in your hand because you can't stand the thought of it getting on the carpet one more time, you peeing yourself jumping on the trampoline at your kid's 5th birthday party and the way you obsess over every bowel movement everyone in your house has!
Google becomes our best friend. You look up everything and you constantly are looking for articles, information and stories on line that will help you make sense of all the chaos and unknowns parenting is throwing your way. You desperately want a manual to this new life...... but there isn't one!!!!!
momlovesbest.com is the closest website to a one stop shop for new mom's that want to find blog posts and pinterest posts from everything related to pregnancy all the way through childhood. With easy to read infographics and entertaining blog stories, every mom is sure to find useful and beneficial information that will help calm some nerves and/or answer a nagging question that is lingering in the back of her mind.