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Helping Baby Recover Emotionally From NICU Stay?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

We were only in the NICU for one week but dang, that was the worst week of my life. How do you help you LO recover emotionally from such a rough start? Does anyone else worry about any lasting effects? We're home now with a healthy baby but sometimes I wonder if this will show in his behavior someday. Maybe I'm overthinking it....

 

DS2 apparently has blood that clots very easily and drawing blood from him was so traumatic! His little heels and arms have so many pricks and pokes healing all over them now. Watching the transport team struggle to draw blood the first night was so hard I actually had to leave the room. I stood outside his room and cried since I could do nothing, was only in the way, and was probably stressing DS even more while trying to comfort him when they poked him. Then the rest of the week, blowing and replacing 5 IV lines was awful. Coming from me, the mom who never let my first son get a vaccination without nursing and holding him through it, every time I coud not hold or comfort DS2 through his pain was heart wrenching. When we were able to finally nurse, he couldn't nurse when upset so not even that was a comfort to him in pain. 

 

Obviously I need to work through and accept our rough start to DS2's life but what about him? How do I help him recover from all those tears and all that pain? Of course I'm holding him non-stop now I'm so grateful he's healthy and home. I just wish there was something more I could do.

 

Do I just need to get over it? Am I projecting my emotional pain on him? Sigh. 

post #2 of 15
I mainly never out baby down. I wore her almost all the time to make up for the separation at birth. Today she is an amazing eight year old!
post #3 of 15

Alot of love and snuggles makes things so much better!  DS has scars on his feet from the IVs, it was traumatic, but by practicing attachment parenting, giving lots of love, he doesn't remember a thing or seem traumatized years later. 

post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by sere234 View Post

We were only in the NICU for one week but dang, that was the worst week of my life. How do you help you LO recover emotionally from such a rough start? Does anyone else worry about any lasting effects? We're home now with a healthy baby but sometimes I wonder if this will show in his behavior someday. Maybe I'm overthinking it....

 

The risk is that, by being hypersensitive to this possibility, you will create what you fear.  It's really easy to look at totally normal behaviors and personality traits in a small child, relate them to an experience, and then pathologize the heck out of them.  That's bad for everyone.

 

My DD was in the NICU for 32 days.  It totally sucked.  I couldn't watch them put in IVs either, and we had a much easier time with them then it sounds like you had.  NICU is just hard.  And then, on the heels of that (whether because of the NICU experience or not, I will never know), DD is a much more independent kid then her older brother.  She didn't respond well to the same kinds of parenting (she was really never into extensive snuggling, for example, she hated being worn), and we needed learn to follow her lead and respond to her in the moment.  To do that, we had to let our trauma go, as much as possible.  I do not say that lightly - NICU is seriously traumatic for parents.  You feel powerless and irrelevant and awful.  But when you come out of it, the baby needs what all babies need:  for someone to respond *to* the present moment, *in* the present moment.  You can't be always looking over your shoulder and trying to fix things so that it will be as if the NICU never happened.  There are a million reasons why you can't do that.  You just go forward, being the best parent you can to the baby you have, one moment at a time.

 

It took me months to get to that point.  Until then, I was responding to my pain and fear more then to her, and it sucked, and it lost us so much time, but we both came through it okay.  DD is awesome and amazing, and I'm glad I get to be her mom.

post #5 of 15

First of all hug2.gif any amount of the NICU, seriously stinks!

 

It is good for you to be thinking so seriously about how the NICU experience not only affected you but DS as well. It is traumatic for everyone. I spent 70 days in the NICU with my DS, and was a constant presence. i never left, I was the first person to introduce babywearing in the NICU and that was a life saver for both of us.

 

So far DS does not seem to be showing any long lasting affects. He has always wanted to be snuggled and we babywear constantly, even though he is almost 13 months old now. He is very attached to his mom and dad, and enjoys being around people. He is not afraid of loud noises, sudden changes, lots of people, new settings, etc.

 

The one area I do think was affected by the NICU was that DS didn't seem to be "present" like here on the planet earth for a long time...he wasn't spacey or detached just very quiet, and "good" like too good for a baby, sleeping long stretches, being very quiet and not very expressionable. (Sorry if this seems a bit hippy dippy, but it is the best way I can describe it whistling.gif) I discussed this with our ped and our natrou and they both confired this is common is babies who experience early trauma such as the NICU, the brain actually shuts down certain censors to as a way to self-protect.

 

The good news: with regular craniosacrial treatments and time he has totally become present! He loves people, being out and about, it a TOTAL FLIRT and is just a joy to be around! Just trust your mama gut and LISTEN to your son, and his special little voice. He will let you know what he needs. Much love being sent your way!

post #6 of 15

I agree it's very hard. There is trauma not just for the child, but for the mother, father, sibling(s), really the whole family. I was totally traumatized by the first month of ds's life, but he seems to have come through it okay. I remember one of the first times he opened his eyes after the surgery, he just looked so small and scared.

 

What have I done? Held him a lot, loved him a lot, responded to him a lot, and reassured myself that he was in a wonderful hospital with wonderful staff who didn't just take care of him medically, but also emotionally when I wasn't there. One particularly hard time they tried for 45 minutes to get in an IV. I stood there the whole time, not being able to stand it but not being able to leave. A going off duty nurse stopped in on her way home and offered to stay with him, not as a nurse but as a comforting adult so I could leave. I couldn't leave, so she stayed anyway. Each of us stroking one side of him as the doctor and nurse tried to get in that da&* IV.

 

Ds now is 4 months old and about the happiest baby I have ever seen. Everyone comments on his smile, his laugh. He has a real joy for life and seems to have come through his trauma just fine. Children really are extremely resilient.

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you wonderful mamas for your advice and encouragement! I'm so grateful to hear that your babies are doing well! I've been doing what you say and have been cuddling and holding my little boy close as much as I can. Yes, babies are very resilient I'm finding more and more. DS2 is just starting to smile and it's amazing to see that and remember that just 3 weeks ago, we were struggling with IVs and tests in the NICU. So glad he's doing so well out here in our everyday world and that we are home!

 

We had such a short NICU stay compared to most of you on here. It was such a hard place to be with a new and tiny baby, you ladies have my admiration and respect for surviving it!

post #8 of 15
We were in the NICU for 68 days. I won't repeat all that others wrote although I agree with everything that had been said. My DD is now 13 months and seems to be well adjusted. One practical advice I was given by the occupational therapist is to do a lot of positive touch on her feet ( from all the blood drawn) and on her face and other places where she was constantly treated. Positive touch can be gentle stroking, baby massage, etc
post #9 of 15

I agree with the PP

 

Parent in the present, positive touch, and enjoy each day.

 

My DDs were in the NICU 4 & 5 weeks. I feel they got awesome gentle care and the nurses treated them (and our family) with dignity and respect while doing what needed medically to be done.

 

They were happy babies and awesome 7 year olds now! 

post #10 of 15
So glad to have found this post. DD is 3 weeks old recovering from surgery (and cannot even be held at the moment) : ( and there have been many days that I just want to smuggler her out under my shirt. She has been in the NICU for over 2 weeks and has a month or more left to go. : (
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
BaileyB, that's so rough greensad.gif I know as mamas we can't help but worry and not holding and cuddling 24/7 with our new babies is heartbreaking. Hang in there, read up on kangaroo care, pump, and bug those docs and nurses about holding your little one ASAP.

And fwiw, my little guy just turned 6 months and though he's cautious and serious with new people, he's such a smiley and content little baby. He loves to snuggle and kiss and laugh and I'm happy to comply.

Baby massage and plenty of holding when your LO recovers will help both you and her I'm sure. Also, please make sure you have friends or family to talk to about your NICU journey. It can be a very stressful and scarring place, fortunately mostly for the parents and not the babies (in my experience!). Good luck and hang in there!
post #12 of 15
Work on your trauma with someone. It is hard to constantly relive your experience whenever you hear a monitor on TV or dream about it and imagine your baby isn't going through the same thing. My son shows no trauma from his experience. I was most concerned about him being weird about his feet- they could never get q vein for blood draws and had to heel stick him for blood. We made sure to play with his feet and did lots of massage. A baby has to go through a lot to be permanently damaged. With a caring mother next to the NICU bedside it is unlikely that damage is done. I wish you healing.
post #13 of 15

Totally understand Bailey B. I wanted to take my little guy home so badly......we spent 70 days in the ICN bc of his severe prematurity, but he is now a happy, HEALTHY, and thriving little boy who doesn't show any signs of emotional trauma from the extended hospital stay.

 

Talk to them about Kangaroo care, infact insist on it!! The hospital we were at was pretty pro-family/holding, but I still had to push for what I knew was best for my little one...to be on my chest as much as possible. I spent more than 6 hours a day sitting with him on my chest, and I think that made all the difference!

 

Hang in there! Sending good vibes your way!

post #14 of 15

I am so in favor of kangaroo care, but during surgical recovery, it may genuinely not be possible.  There may be concerns about potential infection that make the isolette safer then holding for now.  The babe may need special positioning, or pain meds, or other treatment that may make kangarooing sub-optimal for the moment.  The moment you get the go-ahead from the surgeon though, I'm all in favor of having him out of the isolette and on your body as much as possible.

post #15 of 15
I cant hold because they don't want her fresh trach tube moved if at all possible because if it falls out before the site is adequately scared her throat could swell shut and it would be an emergency situation but after tomorrow I will be able to hold again and maybe I can ask when we could do some kangaroo care.

I totally get what you are saying about talking about our NICU experience with someone. I am pretty good about holding it together while here but I am worried that once we are home and are able to let down a little bit I will be a mess. Our first was stillborn and I thought I was holding it together well after a couple weeks but i just lost it one day and it was BAD, and it scared the crap out of me and i am pretty sure it scarred DH. He gets real nervous now if it some like I am holding emotions in because he doesn't want to go through any delayed breakdowns again.
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