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the eric update - day 72: on being the s.p. in the house and feeling guiltish.

today holds the dubious distinction of being eric's first full day as "senior preemie" or "s.p.". the s.p. designation is given to the preemie who has been in the unit for the longest period of time. the previous s.p. held the title for an amazing 30 days. obviously, a long reign as senior preemie means that the baby has been in the nicu for quite a long time.

reaching the s.p. milestone is a time for reflection and it's hard to believe that we've seen about 20 preemies come and go from the nicu, some left "healthy" ( mostly 32+ weekers ), some were transported to other hospitals for surgery and one died ( 24 weeker twin). nicu families will naturally look to the senior preemie and their parents for clues to how they might act and feel when it gets close to their own release date; and while this will probably sound like a pathetic plea for a barrage of sympathetic comments ( it's not, really. honest :-) ), it's hard not to feel something close to guilt when we find other nicu parents asking questions or looking in our direction as the nurses joke with us about eric guzzling his bottles or ripping off his nasal cannula.

it's an odd feeling and not one that i suspect that many can relate to. obviously we are very, very, very(!) happy and grateful for eric's astounding progress, but we can't help shake this guiltish feeling. yesterday, the head nurse came up to us and asked us if we had time to talk with her over the next day or so, but didn't indicate what she wanted to talk about. i suspect that it's this guiltish feeling that made both kris and i suspect she wanted to chastize us for being too obnoxiously exuberant. of course, we're fairly certain that she's probably not going to scold us and wants to talk about something completely unrelated, but i guess it says something that we both had the same initial reaction, even as we tried to laugh off the thought.

i don't write about it very much, but it's increasingly apparent just how differently eric's nicu stay could have been. the clinical courses of the other 24, 25, 26 and even 27 weekers have been very, very different than eric's own. given how difficult our own rollercoaster has been, it's impossible to imagine how the other micropreemie parents are dealing with their own rides and i guess that's probably where the guiltish feeling coming from.

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9/14/2004 10:40:00 PM 5 comments


Though I cant relate as closely, I have some idea of what you mean by the guilt. Fourteen years ago, my sister in law went into labor at 23 weeks. Three days before, our good friend also went into labor at 23 weeks. Sadly , neither baby was strong enough to make it. Not long after, I found out I was pregnant. It was a happy time, yet I felt guilty as every week passed, and I still had a healthy pregnancy. I wanted to be happy and tell the world, but I also felt bad that my brother and our friend didnt get to experience the same. They both told me not to feel bad, that what happened to them had nothing to do with me being happy for my pregnancy. They found out what caused my SIL to go into labor so early, and they went on to have a son and two daughters. The friend now also has three healthy kids.

Just revel in the progress that Eric has made, and think of all the lives he has touched. You have one special little fighter there, and you have yourselves to thank in part for that. Use your experience in the NICU to help the "newbies". Be an ear to listen, or a shoulder to lean on if they feel overwhelmed. Your knowledge from Erics stay in the NICU will be valuable to the parents , who like you two months ago, were suddenly thrown into such an unknown situation. I hope he makes the next "move" soon-- to his home with two loving parents and dogs that will be more than curious what that little thing is doing in their home. :)

By Blogger Tbog, at 1:42 PM  

I can sort of relate to you guilt[i]ish[/i] feeling. When I became pregnant w/ Jacob, my husband and I were not trying to concieve. In fact, we were taking steps to prevent it! A very dear friend of mine and her husband had been trying to concieve for 2 years. I felt horribly guilty and didn't tell her initially. I felt doubly guilty that my pregnancy been unplanned. I was happy and excited at the same time...It's a gut wrenching feeling, isn't it?

Anyhow, I'm sure that no one begrudges little Eric's progress and as long as you're not deliverately comparing notes, gloating, and rubbing it in, I'm sure everyone will understand!

Best to you!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:03 PM  

I know what you mean about feeling guilty. That was what I was alluding to the other day when I said that I feel like I owe someone, something. I am feeling like the balances are tilted on the side of our family and somehow I need to help "re-pay" the debt to even it out. But I am guessing that over our lifetimes the balances are often tipped to one side or another. Sometimes it seems fair and sometimes it does not. But that is all part of life. What we can do is take this blessing and share our experiences with others as you have done. I certainly have a renewed appreciation for the fact that you (Eric III) were truly a miracle as well...don't let that boost your ego too much :-) as well as the doctor's, the nurses and organizations like the March of Dimes who are the everyday heroes. I will have a better understanding of what others are going through when they have a preemie.

Also I just wanted to say that I think today's photos of Eric IV bear a resemblance to his father at about the same size (even with the lighter hair color). Seems he has an appetite like his pops too. LOL Love to you all, Monica (aka Auntie M)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:16 PM  

I just have to tell you that seeing Odin in Carter's little car outfit brought tears to my eyes. We always teased him when he was wearing that one that he was "racing" out of the NICU (after 3 long months!).

What a cutie! We can't wait to meet him!

By Blogger Beth Maclin, at 2:34 PM  

My sister's 25 weeks into a very difficult pregnacy. She's literally having strong contractions every other day. Reading your blog and seeing how well Odin's doing gives me hope that if my sis's little one is born in a day or two, it still has a chance. This means a lot to me. So please don't feel guilty and thank you!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 AM  

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