Parent 2 Parent Stories from NICU Parent Julian
Shante: My name is Shante and we are having our another episode of parent to parent stories from the NICU unit.
Tonight we have with us Julian, and he had a child out in the NICU unit back in 2011. Julian, tell us how you ended up with a child in the NICU unit?
Julian:My wife was 26 weeks and half along in gestation cycle and it was actually two days before thanksgiving and she and I were going to do some last minute shopping, and we just stopped by for a routine check-up at the doctor and within an hour the doctor was admitting us into the hospital.
Shante:You care to tell us a little about the little one?
Julian:Sure my little guy we nicknamed him Ju two because my name is Julian, and my nickname is Ju and we named him after me, so use our namesake so we call Ju one, and Ju two.
Shante:How did his stay go whilst he was in the NICU unit? Could you tell us anything about that?
Julian:It was kinda rough, it was really touch and go a lot. There were a lot of things I mean, neither one of us had ever been to a NICU before. There were a lot of things going on in the NICU. There were a lot of kids or there were a lot of babies there who were at total different levels. Like there were some kids there who, they were only going to be in the NICU for like about four days and then there were other kids who had been in the NICU for weeks and they were going to continue to be there for several more weeks, so it was really, it was really a sombre experience. Sometimes it was a little depressing and other times people try to do their best to keep you, you know cheer you up.
Shante:You said your wife went in two days before thanksgiving, how far along was your wife as far as gestational time period?
Julian:She was 26 and a half weeks.
Shante:And how long did you stay in the NICU unit in total?
Julian:I think we were in the NICU unit for about 18 days in total.
Shante:Would you care to tell us about any of your happy times, what made that experience of happy times for you and your little one in the NICU unit?
Julian:One of the happy times for us was when we actually got a chance to hold him and get a chance to touch him, you know its most of the time people hear about babies in the NICU. They show pictures of the mom or the father holding the baby but the reality of it is that’s when the baby is much further along for numerous children that were in the NICU during the time Ju 2 was in the NICU. They were closer to 26 weeks, 25 weeks, 28 weeks, and at that time period you may not be able to hold your child. So that was, that time, that moment when they let me change his diaper and let me hold him, that was probably like the hype moment that exciting moment for me, I don’t think that I have ever been that excited to see poo in my entire life.
Shante:How did he respond in that moment? Was it one of those connection moments or was it one of those moments that was like oh he’s touching me?
Julian:I think it was a little like you know whose crap is this and put me down. He didn’t know who was holding him at that moment. They had little blinders on his eyes to protect his eyes from the little Infar red that they had little heat lamps that they had on him. So he couldn’t really see who was actually holding him. So you know he threw a kind of a fit for the first the most part.
Shante:What was one of your lowest moments, while in the NICU? And what was that moment?
Julian:I think one of the sad moments was when they had him on the oscillator machine and you know the oscillator machine is forcing air in and out of his lungs so fast that his lungs don’t have to move coz you know we use muscles to breathe and all that good stuff, and when you are that age your body is still learning to breathe. So it takes the learning part out of it and just allows him to get oxygen in and out. So I was looking at him and when the oscillators are running, you know their chest inflates like a balloon. So it was really difficult to see him with that oscillator running, and you know they would try and get him off the oscillator and he would start breathing normally, and then all of a sudden things would start going downhill, and they would have to put him back on the oscillator again. That was really rough.
Shante:During that rough time did you have anyone to lean on and support staff, or small group or family? Who was there during that hard time for you?
Julian:What was funny was my parents and my in-laws were there a lot. My parents and my in-laws called me every day. They called me every morning. They called me for lunch and they called me late at night to check on me, and to check on my wife and the baby. So that meant a lot to me. Where we live we don’t have any family here and most of our friends you know actually live away. They don’t live in the city so that meant a lot.
Shante:Are there any kinds of songs or sayings that you can share with us here for our audience, and aspires that helped to get you through that moment? Was it something that was repetitious in that moment?
Julian:I will probably say we read a lot of Dr Seuss to him, and just you know reading the doctor Seuss books that was really a big deal being able to read to him. Made me feel like you know, I was contributing to him.
Shante:Are there any tips that you have for other parents? Any tips that you can share to parents, parents or anything extra that you would like to share about your experience?
Julian:Definitely, for the parents who are both going to be there at the NICU unit? You know hands down don’t become one another’s enemy, be one another’s friends. There’s so much stuff going on at the NICU, you don’t really know what’s going on, and you know there’s people around you who are working in their too, most of them don’t mean to be rude or anything they are just doing their job. And there is so much stuff going on that a lot of the time you feel really alone while you’re there. So you definitely wanna if your spouse is there, be there for your spouse, be there for one another, that’s not the time to be selfish, that’s the time to be a team player, and another thing that I would highly advice is to download the connected NICU app; if I had connected to the NICU app when I was in the NICU it would have helped me a lot because while I was in the NICU, they were constantly telling me things, that was constantly seeing things, and I didn’t know what any of it meant. And the connected NICU app allows you to tap into all that terminology and learn what all their stuff means and figure out what the nurses are telling you, or what the machines are. But it may not bring you all the joy in the world but it does give you some peace of mind and at least know what’s going on.
Shante:I actually have one final question for you; you said you had a son. Where’s your son now?
Julian:My son is no longer with us. My son on the 18th day as a matter of fact it was on the day that we were supposed to meet with the doctor to discuss our preparations for the near future for bringing him home. He passed on that day. So he’s no longer with us here.
Shante:Would you have any advice for parents who have lost their child or baby in the NICU unit?
Julian:I would definitely tell parents, don’t run away from your emotions that you feel in that moment, go ahead and walk those out. One of the things that happened to me was I got really excited when we met with a group a grey share group, and I met all of these guys who where in my age group, and we got a chance to just kinda talk about how we felt that night, and that was probably one of the best healing moments that I had immediately after the passing of my son. You know, don’t hide how you feel; most people are not going to understand how you feel. Probably the dimmest yet funniest thing that anyone ever told me was that they had lost their dog and how close their dog was to them, and that their dog was like their child and so they knew how I felt. And I just stood there kinda in shock. I mean people are gonna tell you things that are going to be absolutely nuts. But don’t hide your emotions, go ahead and let them do what they need to do because if you do, then you, you’ll actually be able to learn how to live with the situation. It happened and no life, life is ever gonna be the same, because if my Ju 2 was here now, my life would never be the same as it was before he arrived. So with him, not being here is never going to be the same as it was when he was here. So I just let those emotions flow you know, especially to the dads out there. It, it we’re taught to be the big tough guy, but I’ve watched people literally crumble. Guys much more manlier than me, and they are just a wreck, because they just didn’t know how to let those emotions do what they’ve gotta do.
Shante: Julian, thank you so much for sharing with us tonight.
That is the close of our first parents stories, from me and you have a great night.