My son was born 10 weeks premature and spent 73 days on two different Neonatal Unit and the doctors and nurses were all amazing at their jobs. I could not be more grateful for the care they gave my son. They are human however and there were a few things that I found difficult. This blog is not to discredit the staff in any way regarding the care of my premature baby. For any companies thinking of ringing and asking if I have suffered any medical negligence the answer is no!
There were a few inconsistencies and pressures that I was put under though. One morning I turned up at the hospital and discovered that overnight my son had been moved. My heart sank when I realised the incubator I had walked up to had a different baby in it. I thought the worst and frantically looked for a nurse in the room to tell me where Neil was. In fact he had graduated to the nursery which was the room where the lowest care was needed. I was so happy and excited by this development as it was another step closer to home.
My routine had been to miss the rush hour traffic and come after 9am, go home at teatime and then come back after the nightly hand over at about 8.30pm to do the 10pm nappy change and tube feed/bottle. One morning a doctor and a nurse seeing to my son asked if I could be there more. I was shocked and felt judged but of course I could be there more. I started getting to the hospital for 7am or earlier with a backpack full of everything I needed to get through the day. Then I would go home to eat my tea and be back every evening to do the bedtime routine.
A few weeks later another nurse was looking after Neil and she told me that she wouldn’t be writing to him in the future to tell him how many hours I put in at the hospital. She told me I should go early and do something for myself that afternoon. She assured me I was doing a great job and that I deserved an afternoon off. I hadn’t realised how much pressure I had felt under until she told me I was doing a good job.
Was I failing?
Another example is me receiving paperwork from the health visitor that was to assess Neil. The paperwork was all relevant to him hitting his 10 month milestones. He wasn’t. Was I failing? What could I do to help him? When you have a premature baby you work from their corrected age rather than their actual age until they’re 2 years old. His corrected age was 7.5 months, which they round down to 7 months, were they really expecting him to be hitting these milestones? The health visitor arrived and before she even set foot in the house she apologised for sending the wrong paperwork. Phew! What a relief!
This isn’t just related to being the parent to a premature baby, anyone can feel these kind of pressures from outside sources. When you are having a chat with a preemie remind them that they are doing an amazing, brilliant and fabulous job and that even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it. Mostly it feels like health professionals need to complete a tick box exercise. All the health visitors, doctors and nurses that want an input into a premature baby’s life do have the baby’s best interests at heart.