Saturday 12 May 2012

Five Things NICU Taught Me

You might notice that we've had a little facelift around here. I am less than useless at blog design, had no idea how to customise my header, so yesterday during Joseph's massive afternoon nap decided to tackle it. At first, you may have seen, I had three NICU pictures, I then decided I had to change it.

This is Joseph's 3rd anniversary of his NICU stay. I can't seem to control it much, but I tend to relive that experience every year. Not big, not clever but it is what it is. I was very proud of myself yesterday, as I decided I needed to reflect our journey in my blog header, and I think the photos do that.

However, I have been thinking a lot lately about our time in NICU, and I wanted to write something positive that reflects what I learned from the whole experience.

5 Things NICU Taught Me

1. When the going gets tough, I get cheerful:- Diary of a Premmy Mum wrote a great post about Mummy-Bot. I have written a guest post for her, so keep an eye out, about Pollyanna Mum. I found that when times were tough I got uber positive. I had a smile on my face, I reached out to others. I kept calm and cheerful. I like that about me. The only downside is I think it makes the crash worse later.

2. I am quite comfortable challenging medical staff: I used to work for a private health insurance company, and worked my way up from member services to a clinical department. It used to scare me challenging consultants. When Joseph was poorly I found I could easily put our case across and question things. In week 2 I was told by a consultant that Joseph would never eat food, he would have a PEG feed for life. I was very calm and just asked a load of questions about what that was based on, what the likelihood was etc. I then grinned and said "He's a Hodges, he'll eat, they all do". The consultant was quite taken aback, but turns out I was correct that time.

3. I need to be part of a community: People deal with NICU in different ways. Some people go inside themselves, and don't want to talk to anyone at all outside their family unit, and that's fine. Me, I need to reach out to others, talk to people, feel part of something. What is really lovely, is that my husband is exactly the same. We made some lovely life long friends, and our kids are growing up together, which is just great. I remember watching a programme on Sky Real Lives about a neonatal unit and one of the staff saying that parents look fondly on their time on the unit in years to come. I never thought that would be the case, but I do feel that way now. The time in NICU wasn't all bad.

4. I need to take photos: Photography is not my thing. I have never been a great displayer of photos, and as such am not a great photo taker. I found when Joseph was in NICU especially intensive care I needed to take photos regularly, as it was the only way I could have him near me. Now I have a lovely record of that time, so I am so pleased that I did that.

5. I need to help others: As I've explained before, our NICU mainly took later gestation premature babies, and I felt incredibly isolated, as we had the smallest, earliest baby on the unit. When I got home it took me a long time to feel better, but then I started to meet other parents who had had babies the same or earlier gestation than Joseph and that helped me enormously. I feel a great responsibility to give back.

On that note, I've formed a little group of premature baby bloggers (and sick newborns and angel babies too) if you would like to join, please let me know.

One of the group's members has been shortlisted for a MAD Blog Award and I am so proud of her. Please vote for Diary of a Premmy Mum in the baby category.


  1. Great post as ever. I look back fondly on nicu now,never thought that would happen! Miss the chat (and laughs) with the nurses, knew more about what they were up to than my own friends at the time as was there so long.... Didn't really kept in touch with other parents in nicu I think mostly because she was never in special care (moved to sick children's hospital) where you are a bit more relaxed and involved than in nicu.the others came and went from nicu,gemma just wanted to stay in her corner with 1 to 1 care for over 3 months!

    Gemma is 2 tomorrow and have finally gotten round to writing her story for the nicu website and their noticeboard. the stories I read gave me so much hope at the time.

  2. Hi there I'd love to join your blog group. I am in the process of writing what happened with my twins who were born at 33+3. Lots happened and it's taking me a while to get it down! My blog is I hope I can write my story as we're as you have written yours x