Monday, April 16, 2012

PTSD After the NICU

Here's something I posted recently at mothering.com after reading a post about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I've put some links to my own blog posts from our experience below in my reply:


"I had no idea this could even happen. I'm doing research for a follow up to my article about 12 ways to support a friend with a nicu baby. A parent wanted an article about AFTER, coming home, dealing with family and friends and all that. I came across these posts about PTSD and am crying! My Sam was in the NICU only 7 days in October 2009 after having meconium aspiration and a super fast birth. It was hard to balance the needs of our other 4 kids and I always felt guilty not being at the hospital when he could have easily died at any time. I still get panicky when I think about it and savor this kid like you would not believe. It's also made me afraid to have another child because I had endometriitis (maybe, or maybe not ... my doctor seemed not too sure but antibiotics fixed it), and can't imagine doing the NICU stint again. If I feel this way after only a week dealing with it, how must those who have a baby (or more than one) in the NICU for months feel? My heart goes out to them. We need to be a little gentler with NICU parents, both while they are in the hospital and when they come home."


Here's a great piece my husband pointed me to recently, as well. And a piece in The New York Times.


I remember those days as being very difficult. I only slept because I was sick, and when I was awake I was worried. I pasted on a smile and kept my sense of humor, but remembering that time makes my chest feel tight.


Lately I've tried to take a funny slant on life on this blog, but sometimes I run across something that's informative and pretty serious. NICU stays are pretty common. I just wanted parents to know they can come here and have a discussion with me and a safe place to vent. And I wanted friends and family of NICU parents/babies to be extra sensitive. If a new mom asks you to wash your hands after you're visiting her tiny preemie for the first time, please don't call her a worrywart! These parents need just as much help after the NICU as during.


I want to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends and neighbors who were there for us when Sam was born. It means everything to us, and there's a special place for you in our hearts. We were drowning in homemade chicken noodle soup and help and love, and it was fabulous!



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