I used to think the hardest job to have was labor intensive (like mining, construction, etc). Since I became a mom, I've changed my view. The hardest job in the world is being a parent.
If you are one of "those parents" who experienced NICU/ICU, your job just became million times harder. And it is not only because of all the time spent apart from your little one, the trips to hospital, the constant fear of "what next", seeing other parents going home with their babies. Overnight you're learning how to become a nurse, a doctor, a parent, a friend and a rock for your little one - you become an advocate for your baby.
What means being an advocate? By definition, an advocate is a person who puts a case on someone else's behalf - you, as a parent are acting on your little one's behalf.
But sometimes, is not straight forward. Some parents are natural at advocating for their babies, other, like me, have to learn how to do this. So, how can parents become advocates for their premature or sick babies?
- - Always read all notes nurses and doctors write down so you know why and where they are with things;
- - If you can, attend daily meetings (usually when the night shift changes with morning shift) and/or when doctors are informed about what has been going on since last meeting. As a parent (even more as a mom) you have all the right to attend these meetings when they are about your little one. This is also the best time to ask terms you don't know, inquire after test results and raise medical concerns;
- - Ask nurses/medical staff to write down to the night shift/next shift what your preferences are (if you want to change nappies yourself or want to be there for the feed at a certain time, etc) and for them to state it in the hand-over; - if they refuse, ask for the reason why;
- - Keep a daily diary of your own while there;
- - Don't let doctors or nurses to dismiss your concerns; fight for what you think is right by raising it multiple times with various medical staff (you will also get their opinion - listen to it)
- - Research medical papers (or even speak with other hospitals - especially if closer to home) and see what alternatives you'd have;
- - If you're unhappy with the treatment ask for alternatives and second opinions;
Medical staff are trying their best to care for your little one and for you but sometimes, as a parent, the best way to advocate is to change the medical staff looking after your baby:
- - If you are not happy with a nurse, ask to have a different nurse one and not have the nurse - you should be able to explain your decision and provide examples of what made you take this decision;
- - Ask to speak with attending doctor/head nurse/ go higher on the hospital employment chain - again, ask for a specialist/second opinion.
Last but not least: keep on asking questions and ask for explanations why they do what they do regarding your baby. I would recommend you to read Best Questions to Ask in NICU - print it, write down the answers, who you asked and add your own questions to the list .
Ask all questions politely, remember all nurses, doctors (anyone looking after your baby) are humans too; sometimes they have bad days or simply have a lot on their plate. Give them no reason to be unsatisfied with you as a parent.