Everyone Has A Story

About a week ago, I was looking through the stats on this blog and I saw that someone had posted a link here from their blog. Naturally, curiously, I went over there to investigate, and what I found was a blog post directed at me. She had twisted my words from an earlier post and claimed that I felt jealousy and ill-will towards any parent in the NICU whose baby was born bigger or healthier than mine was, and she suggested I have a bit more compassion to those around me, because according to her, everyone has a story that would break your heart.

Don’t I know that. One hundred and twenty days and counting, of making small talk with strangers and listening to everyone’s story. Keri, I’ve heard your story nearly word for word about a dozen times. I’ve also heard about prolapsed cords, and about preeclampsia, and placental abruptions and PPROM. I’ve heard the one about the drunk hit-and-run at 24 weeks, resulting in a spontaneous delivery on the bathroom floor at home a week later. I’ve heard about babes being born with perforated bowels, or with bowels born on the outside of the body completely. I’ve talked to mums whose babes were born with Downs or with Trisomy 13—some diagnosed, some not—and mums whose babes had brain or heart abnormalities that could never have been diagnosed in utero. From heath nuts to junkies to unwed teenage mothers, from home oxygen to home nurses to never coming home at all, I’ve seen and heard more about pregnancy gone wrong than most could even imagine.

And you know what? I’m tired of hearing all the stories.

We’re four months into a six or seven month stay, and lucky for us—unfortunately for the other family—we’ll never win the gold medal for oldest baby in the NICU. But we’re also a far cry from the terrifying days of PICC lines and blood transfusions and Where do we go from here? conversations with the doctors. We’re done with the bewilderment and the absolute fright of never knowing what tomorrow will bring. We know now with 100% certainty that we will bring Nyana home one day, and the biggest question remaining is whether or not she will develop cerebral palsy. While I recognize the fear in the eyes of nearly every new parent I’ve been seeing lately, I am so grateful that the scared girl in the lunch room is no longer me.

Ever since we were moved to the south nursery with our private room, I’ve been feeling somewhat out of the loop, without being positioned at the centre of the activity in the critical care nursery. Can you believe just last week I met a girl in the locker room—she’s taken over the locker right beside mine and has had a 23-weeker (yes, 23 weeks. 23 +5) in the NICU for nine weeks already! How have I not seen her before?

Despite being exhausted by every new story I hear, I’ve been making a conscious effort to make my face known around the nursery, talking to parents and giving them the same advice some of the veterans gave me when I was still fresh. Even though I’m tired of hearing stories of despair and frustration and nervousness, I know that I need to make myself available to the new faces who are taking those first terrifying steps down what is sure to be a long and bumpy road. It’s funny that I’m finding the biggest piece of advice I need to give is “don’t get hung up on dates, you’re on your baby’s time now”. I don’t know how many people I ignored in September and October and November when they told me this. I finally believe it now.

So to you, who thought it fit to call me out for feeling perfectly normal emotions while I navigate the NICU, I’ll pretend to tell you what I’d like to tell you if I didn’t know my granddad reads this. Of course everyone has a story. Yours is tragic and sad and beautiful in the end. Mine is long and slogging and beautiful in the end. Some of us have happy endings and some don’t. Don’t think for a second that just because I am one of the lucky ones to walk away from the NICU with a happy ending—albeit battered and beaten and worn from the battle—that I’m not aware of the heartache and loss that happens within these walls. And just because I’ve never had to say goodbye to a child doesn’t mean I am any less entitled to my feelings of frustration and trepidation, either as I feel them in the moment, or as I choose to document them for my daughter here in this blog. To try to tell me what I should feel, or how I should behave, or how I should express my emotions, is absolutely out of line.

So, yes, everyone has a story that could break your heart. It’s not just you.

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About Mrs. B

Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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13 Responses to Everyone Has A Story

  1. This post gave me goosebumps.

    I couldn’t get that bitch’s (for lack of a better word) blog of my mind for days and now after reading this I somehow feel better. In a round about way, you basically told her to f*** herself (sorry Granddad!). I hope she still creeps you and reads this – and feels like a terrible person for bashing you (and the others) the way she did. I also hope that now that you’ve written this you can put it all behind you because she doesn’t deserve a second thought.

    You are an inspiration to so many of us, don’t ever forget that. ❤

  2. Jackie (jmm) says:

    Hugs and high fives.

  3. I went looking. Of course I went looking. Wasn’t easy to find, either.

    I am not a NICU warrior, and I won’t ever claim to have had anything near to your experience. Mine is not parallel. Still, I’m gonna speak as me, because then I’m putting words in my mouth, instead of yours.

    The fact is, when you don’t get to be the mom who takes their baby home 24 hours after they’re born, when things aren’t uncomplicated, and when you watch baby after baby after baby go home with their parents, and you’re still on your baby’s time? Hell, yes you resent it. Hell, yes you’re jealous, and f***, yes, it’s hard to be civil when you wish so badly you were them.

    But here’s the other thing. Parents of the kids who get to go home right away, or after a short time, or whatever the case may be? It’s not about you. It’s about our children, our medical struggle, our family. You’re just the one who reminds us once again that we’re not normal, and we don’t get to have what you have, at least not right now. It’s selfish, and it’s personal, and it’s irrational. It’s also perfectly normal for a parent who’s grieving–yes, grieving–what they didn’t get to have.

    It’s not about you. So don’t make it about you.

  4. Lynn Duncan says:

    Adding to Jmm’s high fives and I can see Hermione gets it. Now, should I go looking, or just shoot virtual daggers at she who would bash our Karen?

    Of course you have quite capably responded.. but we have your back. And Nyana’s and Don’s.

  5. Biscottiii says:

    Hugs to you Karen and Donnors! It ain’t been a picnic, all the buses and transfers reqd to watch over your precious Nyana day in and day out!

    Other people have their own issues & angers, they need to displace that anger on other people, just easier. Not much you can do about that. But you are BOTH taking care of your primary responsibility, the one that counts for YOUR world. You two are doing what you need to build your family. F* whatever nameless blog in the meantime. ‘scuse my language.

  6. Erin says:

    Karen you simply amaze me!! You have handle this with such class. I’m pretty sure I would not have been able to handle it the way you have. It goes to show that Nyana has THE BEST MOM EVER! And to the said blogger, you know how I feel 🙂

  7. Linda Angell says:

    To the blogger who felt compelled to make life a little more miserable for Karen and her family ~ my sympathies to you. You must have a very narrow-minded way of thinking, believing that someone elses’ struggles are less trivial than yours. You must be very insecure with yourself if the only way you can make yourself feel and appear better is to bash other people. I only hope that you don’t pass along these negative traits to your child. As Nyana’s Grannie I know that Nyana will grow up secure in the knowledge that her parents fought long and hard for her, and she will also know that her Mum and Dad gave their hearts, wisdom and words of encouragement to other parents who were also traveling throughout the NICU. Karen and Don have only spoken the truth, something you need to learn. Again, my condolences to you!!

    ***Karen ~ this blogger kind of reminds me of a “friend” you had in grade 1 ~ Desiree. How she despised you because she felt you were stealing her glory. You came out the winner just like you have with this situation. I am so proud of you!!

    Love,
    Mum

  8. Ben Ton says:

    Keep on “telling like it is” Karen …. your daughter will one day be as proud of you as your mom, along with me and many others, are today. Love to the three of you.

  9. Tasha says:

    Karen, it’s possible I’m a little bit in love with you.

  10. Diana says:

    I can understand the other blogger in a way because I tend to take things way too personally, but at the same time…this is about children. Our feelings as parents aren’t going to be reasonable when situations like this arise. Mrs. Karen gets a break for being human and frustrated with the circumstances that force her to be a spectator to her daughter’s struggles. Can’t we, as parents, feel empathy for the other parent(s) who cannot shoulder their baby’s burdens, but must instead watch them struggle far too young? Where is the empathy for their constantly frustrated desire to protect their children from harm?
    Do we tell every parent that has a happy home-coming that they can’t feel as happy because someone else out there has more joy? Or that they should hold themselves back because someone else doesn’t get to feel that happiness? Of course not, that’s just dumb. So why on earth should we try to do that with parents who are experiencing sad situations –on any level–?

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