Monday, September 15, 2014

Celebrating Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month

September is Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness month. Who are you celebrating?

I am thankful each and every day to all of the doctors and nurses who provided my preemie, Emily, with special care during her 67-day stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These special health care professionals took care of my baby when I couldn't. I am also thankful for all of the medical technology that aided in her care.

Having a baby three months early was the most challenging and traumatic experience of my life. It was heartbreaking to leave my baby, who fit in the palm of my hand, in the NICU for 67-days. In the end, the roller coaster ride was an amazing experience that has made me realize how precious life really is -- and the journey has only just begun.

I am grateful to have family and friends who supported us during our NICU journey and continue to follow our story and all of the progress that Emily is making. I have a strong desire to give back, and share my experiences and lessons learned with other parents. That's why I started the Preemie Blessings blog.

As a former Capitol Hill staffer and lobbyist, I learned how to advocate for health policy. I used my advocacy skills in the hospital and the NICU to advocate for my daughter.

If you have a baby in the NICU or a loved one in the hospital, you must serve as their advocate. Focus your efforts on pushing for what is best for your baby. Below are three quick tips to help improve communication with doctors and nurses -- and suggestions on how to become a better patient advocate:

1) Keep a Notebook/Journal

Use a notebook to keep track of daily medical activities, such as your baby's assigned doctor and nurse of the day, blood draws, medications received, and conversations with hospital personnel. Write down any medical questions you may want to ask. Your doctor may only visit you once a day and you don't want any burning questions to have to wait until the following day.

2) Demonstrate and Monitor Proper Hygiene Techniques

With the Enterovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, flu, and other viruses circulating in the community, it's even more important to continue proper hand-washing techniques. Use the Department of Homeland Security's "If you see something, say something" public awareness campaign to address safety issues in the hospital and the NICU. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable that may compromise the health and well-being of your baby, such as a lack of hand-washing, then say something. 

3) Request Meetings if Necessary

Don't be afraid to request meetings with hospital staff to discuss the health and well-being of your baby. We requested a weekly meeting with the neonatologist nurse practitioner to discuss our baby's health status, as well as short and long-term goals. On most occasions, the nurse practitioner came to our daughter's room at the designated time prepared and ready to provide an update, unless there was an emergency situation. Having a scheduled meeting helped us gain a full picture of our daughter's health, clear-up any "he said this, but she said that" confusion, and prepare for her homecoming. In addition to these weekly meetings, we also scheduled a meeting with the NICU Director about personal hygiene and sanitation issues.
Did you find these advocacy tips helpful? If so, these tips and more can be found in a previous blog post. And, if you really liked what you read today, then please don't forget to follow me:  Email Subscription | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ 

In addition, if you’re still thinking about buying a copy of my first children’s book, “Bentley’s Preemie Blessing,” please check out my latest reviews here. " This whimsical picture book aimed at helping children, families, and friends understand premature birth and the NICU -- and might be good reading for Neonatal Intensive Care Month.

Just so you know, Amazon prices tend to fluctuate, but "Bentley's Preemie Blessing" is currently on sale for 22 percent off at Amazon. I'm not sure how long this sale will last, so don't miss out on this special deal!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Please know that I am the author of "Bentley's Preemie Blessing" and receive a royalty payment when a book is sold. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:  "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. I felt such a connection with the nurses I spend the evening with when my baby was born. You must feel like your NICU nurses are family! <3