NICU parents becoming NICU nurses

  1. My son was in the NICU for 5 weeks and died last Tuesday. He was born at 38 weeks, but had Osteogenesis Imperfecta, started bleeding internally, which damaged his liver and intestines.

    I was already going to start nursing school in the fall before any of this happened. While my son was there, I learned a lot from his nurses, and admired them greatly. I think I want to become an NICU nurse both to honor my son and help babies like him (and not like him) and because I can really relate to the parents. Besides all that, I really love babies.

    Have any of you ever known parents who had a baby in the NICU to become a NICU nurse?

    Heidi
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   nicudaynurse
    Sure have. Not me personally, but I do know of some nurses that have been inspired to work NICU because of a personal experience. You have an added advantage in knowing what the parents are going through.

    Sorry for the loss of your son!
  4. by   acuteobrn
    Heidi

    So sorry for the loss of your son. A parent's pain is a pain that is unmatched. I think it is a wonderful way to honor the life of your son. I have met a few NICU nurses that have encountered a personal loss or a child with a disability and where influenced to become NICU nurses due to this. I feel that any life experience is valuable in nursing in that nursing is a human and humane profession. Do what feels right.

    God Bless, I think your little angle will guide your decision.
  5. by   LauraF, RN
    Heidi,
    I'm a former NICU parent. Sorry to hear of your loss. The NICU experience was very difficult on me. My daughter was born at 1lb and 24 weeks. The hardest part was I had a 7 month old(you can get pregnant when you breastfeed). I had always wanted to be a NICU nurse, until this time. Now I'm unsure that I could do it. I'm not sure if I could handle all those memories. I know I would be better at understanding and helping the parents. I am just really torn now. I still have 2 years before I have to decide. I may feel different after going through clinicals. (((((hugs))))) to you and your family.

  6. by   dawngloves
    I am so sorry to hear about your son. How devestating! You are a brave woman to still want to undertake nursing school after such an emotionally draing event.
    Upon my graduation from nursing school I toyed with the idea of working NICU. I was discouraged by many because it was felt it was too depressing. So I went and worked with adults.
    My daughter was born at 36 weeks and was sent to NICU with some respiratory issues and minor preemie stuff for 5 days.
    I saw it was not as depressing as I had been lead to believe. In fact it was contrary! The nurses there confirmed my belief and encouraged me to make the jump. It took me a few years after that, but I did it! I will never go back!
    It is true, we see some very sad things, as in the case with your son. And you are right, you have that experience to lend to other parents. You know where they are coming from. My daughter was not a 24 weeker, but I too know the pain of leaving a hospital empty handed. Of not feeling like a mom as others care for your baby, changing her first diaper, giving her her first bottle.
    It may be a way off before you step into a NICU again, but just a warning. You may expereince some Post Traumatic Stress. Sometimes at work I experience overwhelming feelings of sadness for no aparent reason. As you go through nursing school you may want to consider how you will feel stepping back into the unit. Or you may find something else you are interested in.
    Good luck to you whatever you do!
  7. by   Mimi2RN
    So sorry for your loss, we are so used to newborns being "good" babies, and having plans for childbirth. It is devastating to lose the baby.

    I can understand your desire to work in the NICU, so look into it as you go through school...but it's not a decision you need to make now. Think of it as a possibility as you go through your training, but look at other areas too. That's the wonderful thing about nursing, many doors are opened.

    Give yourself time to grieve, before you jump in to anything.

    Good luck, mimi
  8. by   rnnurse2b
    Im so sorry to hear about your loss....
  9. by   Mira
    Condolence Heidi. You are a brave person planning to stay in a place that will remind you of your son. I have a colleague who lost her son while working with us, I can understand how powerful is her encouragement to those branded by other staff as difficult parents, her words spells magic and I consider her a valuable person, her experience made her an effective communicator to the parents who is udergoing grief of having a premature or sick infant, I am inspired by her and learnig to be as compassionate as possible like her though I cannot match her experience.Goodluck on your plans.
  10. by   ucandoit
    I am sooooo sorry about your loss! I say go for it! I think it would be an honor to have someone with your compassion and heart taking care of our sick babies! You are in my prayers!
  11. by   jeffinerrn
    I'm sorry for your loss. I am a NICU nurse. I went to nursing school after the loss of my daughter. She was born at 35 weeks with neuro complications. She came home with a trache and g-button and contractures. She lived almost 3 years. I had an 18 month old also (yes, you can get pregnant while nursing!). I went to school because my daughter's Primary nurse was so good at teaching and encouraging us. She was wonderful. We kept in touch after my daughter died. She is still my mentor to this day (though she is no longer in nursing). She showed me that I could take that difficult period in my life and turn it into something positive. Yes, there are days when it is difficult. Days when I hurt, I do still miss my daughter (its been 10 years since she died, I've been in the NICU for 4 years). But I do get some comfort back by taking care of these tiny babies. I get to hold them and love to send each healthy one home.

    I hope that you continue on with your education and can someday pass on this legacy for your son.

    God Bless. (((((hugs)))))
  12. by   magRN
    Sorry about your terrible loss......we have two or three nurses who once had their babys here!
  13. by   nurseiam
    I am very sorry about your loss. My daughter was in the Special Care Nursery where I work, eleven years ago. I was sick most of the time and can only remember bits and pieces. For me it was the nurses in my OB office and L&D/Perinatal. They were awsome. But I have been in the NICU for almost 5 years. I think it has helped my communication with parents. It is awful to leave the hospital carrying balloon and flower that say its a girl, with no baby in your arms! I can also identify with parents about visiting and stuff. Nurses can be very judgemental and I try and help them remember that they may not know all the reasons someone isn't there! We have at least 10 other nurses that have had babies in the unit. Some worked there and some went to nursing school after. Good Luck and I agree about keeping your mind open to other possibilities. I though I would be in L&D....midwife. But now I can't stand the thought of checking a cervix! And it only takes one beautiful asphyxiated baby to learn it's not worth it!
  14. by   pengland1965
    Heidi
    I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. I dont know exactly how you feel since I havent lost my own child. However, I feel I can somewhat relate.
    I became too close to a 25 weeker who was my primary baby for 9 months. His mother was 16. She had sevier mental problems. Her own father abused and raped her. The baby's father left when the pregnancy test showed positive. His mother loved him the best she could.
    Austin was a pitiful little guy. SGA, BPD. extreme oral aversion,G-tube, bilateral hernias, frequent UTI's and PVL. Already showing signs of CP. Spent most of his life on HFV and versed. When he wearned off the vent he was a very cranky boy. Very difficult to calm. He frustrated most of the nursing staff. Many asked not be assigned to him. But with each nurse that signed off on Austin, I gave him another piece of my heart.
    I became so much involved that I took Austin as my foster child. Long story short, Austin was my son for 9 short hours. He was d/c from the unit May 7th at 6 pm. He died at 3 am. Septic. Gram neg rods. The Dr's stated he would probably have died even if he hadent been d/c'd. They tell me,"Be happy. You gave him something nobody else could have given. Life outside a hospital" Maybe someday I will be happy when I remember that. I hope so.
    EMT's were called. There was a code in my bedroom. His heart began beating again only to take me on a rollercoaster ride to the PICU of a different hospital for 2 more long days. Which is what it took to convience his young mother that there was no hope and withdrawing support would be the most loving act she could do for him.
    I did not give birth to this child. I do however, have 2 children of my own. I gave this baby his 1st bath, and his last. I could not have loved him more.
    Returning to work was very difficult. It is not easy to escape the memories when the unit was my life with him. But at the same time, the unit is my last connection with him. I feel like, in a way, he is still with me emotionally. My co workers understand why sometimes tears comes to my eyes for no appearant reason.
    You might try an externship before you spend major time and money to be a nurse. Especially if the NICU is the only place you are considering. Also, some units have volunteers or cuddlers. Who's only job is to hold and love the babies. God Bless You. I pray everything works out for you.

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