**please note- I understand fully how hard it must be to be a NICU nurse. I understand that NICU nurses (like all other nurses) have a job to do. I understand that dealing with hysterical hormonal women whose babies aren’t well would be difficult and draining. HOWEVER- if you don’t fucking like what you do and you can’t do it with compassion- FIND A NEW GODDAMN JOB!!!**
I may very well get lambasted for this post, but I make no apologies for what I’m about to say. My baby’s stay in the NICU sucked eggs!!! HARD!!
For those of you unaware, yes, my beautiful, perfect little angel of a girl spent the first days of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Or, as I have termed it, the SUCK-U. Because let me tell you, the NICU here is chock-full of THE SUCK!
Because I suffered from gestational diabetes, even though my sugars were under control, my baby grew BIG. Being big, and being from a momma with GD can cause a baby’s sugar levels to drop after birth. This is bad!!!
I was given roughly an hour to spend with my darling girl, skin to skin, and attempting a first feeding at the breast before she was subjected to her first poke. Because of my GD, and because she was so large, she was at risk of having wonky sugar levels. I was crestfallen to learn her sugars were indeed low, and this meant that she would be taken away to the NICU to have an IV inserted, and possibly be supplemented with formula. Because I was hoping to breastfeed, this supplementation would be done by gavage feeding (Gavage is when they stick a tube directly into baby’s stomach down their throat and use gravity to drain the formula from a syringe), as opposed to a bottle, to help avoid nipple confusion (and also turned out to be bloody useless as they then gave her a pacifier…. stupid asshats). My husband opted to stay with me, (I was not allowed up yet- they accidentally drained a bag of IV fluid with Syntocin into me after delivery and so they had to make me wait to get up just in case it caused me to bleed like a stuck pig) as he knew he would not tolerate watching what they were about to do to our baby. When the IV was placed, we then went to the NICU to speak with the pediatrician about what the course of action would be. We were informed that she would likely be on the IV for about 24 hours until she was weaned off, and her sugars were hopefully stabilized. We also were informed about her shoulder, that there was some damage/stretching to the muscles and nerves which would likely be completely healed and she would regain full mobility in her arm by 2 months old, but they would be performing an X-ray just to be sure that her clavicle wasn’t broken. We did luck out on that front at least- her clavicle is not broken, and she seems to be slowly regaining mobility in her arm, as well as no longer screaming in excruciating pain every time it is moved/bumped/etcetcetc….
Beyond this point- I was given NO instruction. I was treated like I was in the way. I was denied access to my daughter. I was not allowed to hold her except for short periods of time. She was nearly 24 hours old before I was even given the opportunity to attempt to nurse or even change a diaper. And I had to ASK- repeatedly. All I was able to do was stand over her (I was offered a chair ONCE) and stroke her cheek. She was not in an isolette, she was not in danger or too fragile to be held. It was just inconvenient. And then the real kicker: Despite KNOWING that I was attempting to breastfeed DESPITE having had a reduction (which can make breastfeeding impossible for some moms, and extremely difficult for others) and ALSO having PCOS (which commonly causes supply issues), that I KNEW I would most likely have to supplement with formula (and so THEY knew too). When they KNEW I was having difficulties with my daughter latching on, as well as facing all of the above- they informed me AFTER I was discharged that they would be keeping my daughter for another 48 hours because she was not feeding effectively.
I lost my shit.
Admittedly, maybe I should have hounded the nurses more. Maybe I should have asked for the COMPLETE policy on release of infants from the SUCK-U. Or maybe, just maybe, the stunned cunts in charge of my baby’s care should have actually done something drastic like READ MY FUCKING CHART and take the time to actually inform me of the full situation. That because of my EXPECTED difficulties with nursing, my baby would not be able to go home. Even though I was told she WOULD go home with me as long as her sugars were fine. Which they were.
And then the fight began. I was outraged, and I cried buckets. I refused to leave my baby. I took her out of the NICU back to my room, which I had been politely told to vacate at least twice at this point. I spoke to my mother in law, I asked her advice on what to do, if I would be out of line for asking to speak to the pediatrician and getting my baby out of there. I wanted to know if it was wrong to capitulate on the breastfeeding and just formula feed if it meant my baby could go home sooner (which it would- more on that later). At this point I had already given her a bottle just to get started on the 48-hour feeding policy. She took the bottle like a champ! No problems whatsoever. I took my things and went back to the SUCK-U. I asked to speak to the pediatrician. When the nurse asked me why, I told her. I told her I refused to leave my baby without good reason. I told her that if I had been informed of the policy, I would never have even attempted to breastfeed, and would have given formula straight off- that my baby had NO problems feeding whatsoever, with the exclusion of being breastfed, and that was due to MY issues of flat nipples and low supply, and NOT because my baby could not feed effectively. I stated that there were obviously extenuating circumstances for us, and also that my own medical background should hold some sway- I was not some twit who can’t figure out if her baby is starving!!!
Her exact words: “I was not here this weekend, so it’s not MY fault no one told you- so don’t get bitchy with me!”
I’m not. even. joking.
I coldly told her I didn’t care whether it was her or someone else- it was THEIR job to inform me of the situation with my child, and no one did- and I WOULD be speaking with the pediatrician. She legally, could not refuse me. And so, she called the ped. I spoke with him. He agreed with me (and most likely did NOT make any friends on that ward doing so). His only concern was the slight jaundice my daughter was experiencing, and so he ordered a billirubin test, which if she failed would mean she would indeed have to stay in that hellhole to be placed under phototherapy. We were very very fortunate that she passed that test- our girl was coming home!!
I can honestly say, that for a lot of parents, I’m sure that NICU is their saviour. I can well imagine the relief most parents feel knowing that there is someone taking care of their little one who is ill. However, for me, it was HELL. I have cried myself to sleep every night thinking of my daughter’s first two days. Two days where virtually the only time she was held was when someone was either stabbing her to test her blood sugar, or to shove a tube down her throat. Two days away from the mother and father who tried for sooooo long to have her, and spent so much energy trying to keep her safe, just to abandon her to soulless harpies who had a job to do… and they did it well… But they need to stop and consider their other patients too- the parents. Having a child who is in the NICU is goddamn devastating. No matter the reason they are there, it is stressful, and scary, and being made to feel like an intruder because you want to spend five minutes with your OWN child is one of the most horrible feelings I can think of. It is helplessness and hopelessness and guilt. I feel guilt that I was not there for my daughter the way I should have been. I feel guilt that maybe I should have told the nurses to shove it in their ass when they wouldn’t let me hold her (for no reason*, it was just inconvenient to have me there- it’s hard to gossip and be a lazy twat with someone sitting there who might report you). I feel terrible of what she had to go through, without comfort from me. I mourn the loss of bonding-time, time that should have been happy, and spent getting to know my new little person I waited so long for. Every puncture in her little foot is a puncture in my heart. Every bruise from attempts at starting an IV is a bruise I will feel for the rest of my life.
I’m glad it’s over…. and will be eternally grateful to the pediatrician who saw reason, and was kind, and caring. And didn’t just treat me like some asshole getting in the way.
*the “reason” I was given for not being allowed to pick up and hold my daughter was that she was sleeping and I might disturb her… But I also wasn’t allowed to comfort her after they woke her up to stab her either- so their “reason” is total bullshit!
**I also feel I should note that there were other reasons my experience was not the greatest. I was also told by the “bitchy” nurse that it was my CHOICE to breastfeed and it’s not their “policy” to just offer formula. I was informed IMMEDIATELY after telling them the first night about my reduction that if baby wasn’t nursing effectively right away, she would be supplemented- they forgot. I was subjected to a discussion from one nurse who snatched my daughter away from me, who then proceeded to ask me my daughter’s name (because despite having cared for her all goddamn day, didn’t farking KNOW her name!!!) while holding my baby (why I couldn’t have continued holding her during this I don’t know)- and then after hearing the answer walked away without another word to me trying to decide if my daughter actually suited the name I gave her or not, and she “wasn’t so sure”… Because, you know I might just change my mind on what I named her based on the opinion of some stupid cunt who couldn’t even be bothered to KNOW her name for the previous 8 hours!!! This was typical of my experience- these are just small examples. There was ONE nurse who offered me a chair, and one who actually talked to me like I wasn’t a complete moron. Most of them treated me like I was akin to an axe murderer and it was MY fault my daughter was there in the first place for being a fat pig with diabetes. Because of COURSE it was MY fault I got gestational diabetes in the first place…