This is the day that I often refer to as my daughter’s adjusted birthday. Today was her due date. Unfortunately, she decided to arrive in December.
She was in the hospital for 35 days while she grew from just over two pounds to just over four. Believe it or not, I look back at her days in the NICU as a beautiful time. She had amazing care and the nurses encouraged our bonding. She rested, she ate, she snuggled against my bare chest and we became a family.
Best of all, we had primary care nurses, also known as having, “continuity of care”. That means that we had the same two or three nurses all the time. The hospital ensured that there would be a solid relationship built between the caregivers and the patients. Those nurses knew us, they knew our daughter and they became part of our family.
When my son was born seven weeks early, he was too sick to stay in the NICU at the hospital where he was delivered. He was immediately swept away, across town, to Children’s Hospital…just in case he needed emergency heart surgery.
In that NICU, they had recently done away with the use of primary care nurses. Apparently, the bonding that was going on between the patients and the nurses became too hard if the sick, little babies would pass away. I can understand that. I have watched a baby die. It is unbearably painful.
But, there is stark contrast between the memories of my daughter’s infancy and my son’s. I couldn’t help but feel that there were complete strangers caring for him. Because there were. Every single time I walked in, there was someone new. They didn’t know me, they didn’t know my baby, they didn’t build any kind of relationship with him whatsoever.
There was no bonding. We were not a family.
And I hated it.
During that painful time, I could have never anticipated where we would be nearly eight years later. My tiny daughter has grown into a typical eleven year old and my medically fragile son has come farther that we ever thought possible.
Because, in addition to a lot of work at home and in therapy sessions, there has been something even more meaningful to their development.
There has been continuity of care.
My children attend a very small school. There is one class per grade and every teacher knows every student. The vast majority of parents know each other and I would venture to say that just about everyone who enters that building knows my son.
I am working at the school so that I can be there for my boy if he should need me, but I am certainly not the only one looking after him. Day in and day out, there are many parents, teachers, aides and even students, who watch out for him as well. That stability and the formation of these strong relationships have helped my kids excel.
There are more bonds than I can count. We are a family.
And I love it.