Author Topic: It's not like your baby is really sick...  (Read 8646 times)

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Dark Annie

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It's not like your baby is really sick...
« on: January 17, 2013, 07:30:38 PM »
One of my friends gave birth to a little girl last week, after a very difficult pregnancy and birth due to the mother's health issues. The little girl is the first child for the couple and for a long time it was doubtful they could even have kids.

Although baby is healthy, she has jaundice and needs 'blue light treatment' and, as such, 24 hours after mum and bub were discharged, baby was re-admitted to start treatment. Bub will be in hospital for a while, depending on how many 24 hour treatments she needs.

The parents are coping well, but mum is obviously quite emotional as she is recovering from a Caesar, visiting hospital and dealing with the fact that she hasn't had any real home time to bond with her daughter. She is also contending with the fact that whilst most people are supportive, some are making comments like 'At least you'll get her home soon- xx weeks is nothing and baby won't remember', or 'it's just jaundice- not like baby is really sick'. 

The problem is that all these comments are generally meant to be well meaning and mum doesn't know how to respond without offending these people who we genuinely trying to be helpful! I was hoping ehell could give me some good responses I could pass on to friend? Also, just for discussion purposes, what are some well meaning  things you should never say to parents of blue light or ICU babies?

Ceallach

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 07:45:55 PM »
Oh dear, these situations are tricky.   Really, all people should be saying is things like "I hope baby is better soon" and "Is there anything we can do to help?" or similar.     If they are saying things that your friend finds upsetting I think the only option is to beandip, and try to avoid them.   They're not realising that right now she's hurting and stressed and isn't ready to count her blessings!   She just wants baby to come home.  It's hard, but as long as people are well-meaning and not malicious there's not really any direct response that would be helpful.  I would just avoid people who are causing more stress and not being supportive.

The problem with these comments is that sometimes they are helpful - for example, when I miscarried my first pregnancy after a long time unsure of whether I could get pregnant, I actually didn't mind when people said "Hey at least you know now that you *can* get pregnant, that's progress!".    But those were people close to me, who were also acknowledging my pain etc at the time.   If random people had said it, perhaps I would have found it hurtful.   
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JenJay

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 07:56:07 PM »
I might reply "I appreciate that you're trying to cheer me up, but it's still pretty awful not being able to have my newborn home with us."

LEMon

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 08:19:23 PM »
She might want to express more her pain at being apart.  That may help people to see the issue isn't her fear for her baby's health, but her longing to be together.

To those who seem/are insensitive but she feels are loving, she can also say something about how difficult this whole time period has been and how much she longs for it to be over, and can they help her by (what she does want to talk about, think about).  Steer them toward what she wants to talk about, rather than let them be in control.

Remind her that being emotional at this time is not a crime.  It has been and is hard emotionally right now.  She can tell them she needs them to support her with positive thoughts of how it will soon be.

mmswm

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 09:19:19 PM »
The NICU where my two youngest sons were patients gave me a little business cards to give to people who made unintentionally thoughtless comments. Most of the people who say things like this are trying to "look on the positive side".  Unfortunately, it comes across as cold and uncaring. It is important to keep in mind that they mean well.  Maybe she could come up with a phrase to say to people who say these things; sort of a "lather, rinse, repeat" sort of thing.  Maybe something like "While I am grateful that my daughter's health issues aren't worse, it is still very difficult to be separated from my baby at such an important time of life.  I appreciate that you are trying to look on the positive side, but what I need right now is sympathy and support while I deal with a reality that is not the 'fantasy healthy newborn' that I've been dreaming about for so very long."
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

Emmy

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 09:21:09 PM »
I agree that the comments sound well meaning, but what they are saying is hurtful.  From experience, giving birth to healthy baby without surgery and being a new mom with all the hormones involved make women very emotional, so I'm sure this is extremely difficult for your friend.  Maybe your friend could say "I know jaundice isn't life threatening and my baby won't remember this, but it is still upsetting to not be able to bond with her during this time.  XX weeks may not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it is a very long time to wait for our baby to come home and it is difficult to deal with the fact that we can't be home together now." 

The comments sound like the people making them assume she is worried about the baby's health and they want to reassure her that the baby will be ok and out of the hospital soon when she seems more upset about not being able to bond with the baby.  I always find the 'count your blessings' comments to be a bit insensitive even if not meant to be that way.  I imagine most people have never been in her situation, and casually telling her the baby will be home soon or the baby won't remember seems dismissive of her feelings.  It would be like somebody who was not a victim of a natural disaster telling a friend who lost their possessions to one "at least you got your health".

 

DottyG

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 09:23:26 PM »
Not sure what she should say back to them, but as to what they should say to her....

If I were her friend, I think I'd be saying something like, "I know you want to spend as much time as you can up at the hospital with her.  What can I do for you so that you can do that?  Can I go to the grocery store or do some errands for you?  I'm here for you - even if you just want to call me and talk a while."

(ETA:  I just reread my post and wanted to clarify that I'm not directing that at you, OP.  I know you're doing the right thing with your friend; I was referring to the other people in her life who are looking for something to say.)
 
 
 
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 09:26:02 PM by DottyG »

kareng57

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 10:56:55 PM »
There was a similar thread about things like this a few years ago and it got pretty heated (and I'm not good at searching for prior threads) - just so you know.......

Overall, I'd think that people are simply trying to be reassuring.  Newborn jaundice is pretty common - and about 25% of even fullterm babies are jaundiced enough to be tested.  I don't know the average statistic about those who are jaundiced enough to need the bili-lights - perhaps less than 10%, but enough that almost everyone knows of a baby who had to have this treatment, and everything turned out fine.  OTOH, the number of people who know of a baby who had to have intensive treatment (perhaps intense lung treatment) due to extreme prematurity is much lower.

I know rules are different in different countries (and I don't want to start a debate about this) - but when I had DS #1 he was still quite jaundiced on the day I was due to be discharged and at first they weren't going to let me go home.....but they did, on the condition that we bring him back the next day for another blood test.  We did, and the bilirubin level was down.  That satisfied everyone - if it's going down, even slowly, that's fine.  With babies, it just doesn't suddenly increase, again.


ETA:  I forgot to address the issue of a mom being separated from her baby.  That's of course very, very difficult and it almost happened to me.  (But re breastfeeding, he was such a miserable nurser that it was almost a nonissue anyway).
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 11:18:30 PM by kareng57 »

shygirl

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 11:09:11 PM »
When people told me "it's okay, he won't remember any of this", about my son being in the NICU after he was born, the first few times I was caught off guard and didn't say anything.  Afterwards, I said something like "Oh, but I will remember"

For people who say "he's not really sick", I would respond with "but it's still hard to be away from the baby".


LeveeWoman

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 11:19:28 PM »
I might reply "I appreciate that you're trying to cheer me up, but it's still pretty awful not being able to have my newborn home with us."

I really like this. It acknowledges that people are trying to look on the bright side while also reminding them that the mom misses her infant because there are significant medical issues involved.

violinp

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2013, 11:21:21 PM »
When people told me "it's okay, he won't remember any of this", about my son being in the NICU after he was born, the first few times I was caught off guard and didn't say anything. Afterwards, I said something like "Oh, but I will remember"

For people who say "he's not really sick", I would respond with "but it's still hard to be away from the baby".



This is exactly why those kinds of comments are so hurtful. Of course, the baby won't remember - that's not the point. The point is that the baby is sick and the parents are trying to deal with a lot of stress and sadness.
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Allyson

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2013, 12:12:57 AM »
I could see myself saying something like this before I found this and similar sites. I have a real tendency to underreact and downplay. Which is sometimes super helpful when other people are freaking out like mad, but it has led to me to say the wrong thing here.

I like the comments that are *not* chastising but explaining, like 'It's hard to be away' and 'I will remember'. It acknowledges the person probably has the best intentions and maybe helps them see why the comments they're making aren't really doing any good.

DottyG

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2013, 01:29:02 AM »
Karen, whether it's common or not, it's not common to the mother who's already emotional after giving birth and is now separated from her baby.

All the facts in the world aren't comforting when you just want to be home cuddling your new baby instead of seeing him in a cold, sterile place with strange lights over him helping him get better enough to leave.

(I know you know that. But I think your post kind of illustrates the problem that the OP's friend is experiencing. People are trying to bring facts and blunt talk to a situation that needs gentleness and compassion.)


Precarious Armada

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 10:37:53 AM »
IMO, people use the "He's not really sick", "Baby won't remember this" etc comments for two reasons - either they are sympathetic and trying to calm/soothe somebody, or they're trying to shut down emotional reactions they can't cope with/have no sympathy with.
And otherwise sympathetic people can be so focused on "making the new mother feel better", that they cross over into the unsympathetic "shut down the reaction" territory.

I think the key is in the delivery. "At least he's not really ill, but it's still very hard to be separated from your new baby", "I can see it's really hard for you right now. Even if the little one won't remember it, it's very hard on you! How are you doing? Is there anything I can do?"
Maybe get clued in friends/family members to give the well-intended but socially clutzy a clue.

TurtleDove

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Re: It's not like your baby is really sick...
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2013, 10:46:45 AM »
... all these comments are generally meant to be well meaning ... I was hoping ehell could give me some good responses I could pass on to friend?

Unless the same person is saying the same thing over and over, I would advise your friend to recognize people are trying to be supportive and mean well, and just let it slide. Your friend is not going to change the world one well-meaning commenter at a time, and essentially putting someone in their place when they honestly meant well and your friend knows that seems counterproductive.  It seems like it is borrowing trouble.