As a lactation consultant and NICU nurse I often see moms, dads, significant others sitting at their baby's bedside. Usually the parents come at the given times and assist with the baby's care such as taking temperature, changing diapers, and getting updates. After the care is completed and they feel comfortable with the information they received, they leave to go home or get something to eat or drink. This ritual is done every 3-4 hours.
One day I was walking through the unit and I noticed a set of parents sitting quietly at their baby's bedside. I've seen these parents sitting there day after day, all day since their daughter was brought to NICU. This particular day it caught my attention as it was Thanksgiving morning around 6am. Now as the lactation consultant for the NICU I eventually see most of the moms. This mom was not pumping and had no interest in breastfeeding so I had no reason to speak to her. But, that did not stop me. I walked over to the parents and pulled up a chair and started talking. I identified myself and mentioned that I was aware mom did not want to pump for breastmilk nor breast feed her infant. I was not there to convince her otherwise nor judge. I mentioned that I have noticed them at their infant's bedside for long period of time, every day since their daughter was born. They told me the story of how difficult it had been for mom to get pregnant and the difficulties she had keeping this pregnancy and the weeks she spent in the PNU (perinatal unit). They spoke of their family life, how difficult it was that due to Covid no family members were allow into the NICU to see their baby. This was their first baby and they were protecting their precious gift from.....everything and everybody.
During TNI sessions Dr. Dickey would often talk about "trust" in as sometimes visitors will not leave their loved ones because they do not trust the care they are receiving. I did mention possible trust issues with the parents, they didn't really answer negatively or positively and I took it as they did not really want to comment on that subject. That is not uncommon as parents sometimes fear the nurses will "take it out" on their baby if they make the nurses mad. Regardless, I made them feel validated by focusing on their words and body language. They voiced their appreciation that I took the time to sit and listen to their story.
On my lactation business card I add hand made origami cranes (Lorraine and I make them from special origami paper) different sizes for different gestation the baby was born at. One for one baby, two for twins and three for triplets. The moms that are breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk for their infant/s get a card with crane/s on it. Parents are so appreciative, gives them something to hold on to.
So on this cloudy Thanksgiving morning during Covid times I decided that these parents or rather this mom needed a card with a beautifully flowered, pink crane. I explained that even though the business card was from a lactation consultant the crane was for them as I can't predict the future but (as I put the card in her hand) I hope it can go as well as it can during her stay in the NICU. Tears were streaming down mom's face as Dad was shaking my hand, thanking me for my kind act. And although they still sit at their infant's bedside day after day I hope they feel that they are able to trust the care their precious daughter is receiving.