Meet Simon, Preemie Parent Mentor
My preemie(s) was born at: 29 weeks
Days spent in the NICU: 75, 90
Current age of preemie(s): 22 months
Parent of Multiples: Yes
Our NICU Journey included: Advocacy for your child, NICU experience, Dealing with early health issues – premature lung development, incomplete cardiac development, Developmental delay management – working with “Early Intervention”, Impact of premature infant parenting on marriage, work, etc.
Dads don’t always get the support they need – sometimes simply because we ourselves aren’t sure what form that support should take. I remember my own NICU journey being extremely non-linear. The only predictable thing in my twins’ lives was that nothing was certain, nothing was predictable, and nothing was promised. It was tumultuous, with many advances and setbacks. Some days were incredibly dark while others seemed full of hope.
I made the choice to become a Graham’s Foundation Parent Resource volunteer because I know that a preemie dad’s network will never need to be bigger (nor feel smaller) than when he is trying to negotiate the NICU journey. Whether you are going it alone or with a supportive partner, it is an experience that no one should ever have to endure. I’m here to say, though, that it is also a finite one. In my role, I aim to help dads understand they can do this.
Dads: Remember, you are your child’s or children’s primary advocate. No matter how qualified the team at your NICU, they can be even more effective when you’re actively engaged in your child’s development plan. Take every opportunity to attend rounds, workshops, and leverage every resource your NICU provides to parents. And if you see your child isn’t getting what s/he needs, speak up.
Supporting Fathers of Premature Babies
The word we most often see associated with dads coping with prematurity is strong. Fathers in the NICU and beyond are described as the walls that hold up the world around mothers, babies, and whole families. What we seldom see acknowledged is that dads of preemies may feel just as terrified, overwhelmed, and confused as their partners, but they’re not encouraged to share these emotions. Many dads are “fixers” – they want something to do. While there is plenty dads can do, premature birth is an issue without an easy fix.