Visitation Question

  1. I just had a friend to give birth to a preemie about a week ago. She's not a terribly close friend, but we used to work together, and she called me because I went through the same thing with my own child 2 years ago. She had PIH like I did. Her baby was born at 3 lbs 2 oz, but I think has slipped below 3 lbs due to the normal weight loss. The baby is struggling a bit and still on a vent, but making progress, just slower. Baby was a 28 weeker, E C-Sec. She is spending a ton of time at the hospital and said she'll be holding her breath until the baby is off the vent.

    The situation: Her and the father are not married. They are both professionals. However, he bailed on her as soon as he found out she was pregnant, she was 5 months before she told him. He wouldn't even come to the hospital for the birth. Baby is listed I think either in serious or critical condition.

    The problem: He has been visiting the baby every day starting two days after it was born. She has no issues with this. They don't speak when he comes and brings his mother sometimes. However, my friend showed up the other day and her ex brought some girlfriend he just started seeing a couple of months ago, and my friend went ballistic in the hospital over it. Because she was so upset, they asked her ex and his gf to leave, but the nurse told her they came back later after she left.

    Now, it's not what you think, she doesn't have a problem with him seeing someone, she just feels that after all, her baby is in the NICU, and is in very serious condition, and doesn't want her baby used as an object for curiosity seekers and doesn't want anyone to hold the baby but family.

    The NICU told her that as long as he is on the birth certificate (which he did sign, suprisingly), he could bring anyone he wants, regardless of whether or not she objected to it.

    What is your hospital's policy on really messed up family situations like this?
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  2. 18 Comments

  3. by   mom23RN
    At our "local" NICU it's only parents and grandparents who can visit. Almost no exceptions are made (unless baby is VERY sick and looks like it might not make it).

    At the hospital where my son was ANYONE could visit including siblings, cousins, friends, etc.

    I cannot blame your friend. What a messed up guy if he brings the new gf to see his ex-gf's baby in the NICU. GET a LIFE! :angryfire
  4. by   Gompers
    In my hospital, the situation would be handled like this...

    If the parents are married, the husband is automatically given a wristband and the title of "father" regardless of what the actual paternity might be. If the parents aren't married, it depends on the birth certificate. If the mom listed her boyfriend and he signed it, then that's that - he's the father and he has rights. Had she left the father portion blank and/or he had not signed it, then he wouldn't have any rights at all.

    So because it's already been filed and everything, I'm sorry to say that he has every right to visit his child. As the father, he also has the right to bring in whomever he chooses. Some hospitals only allow immediate family, others allow anyone so long as they're not sick and are accompanied by one of the parents. Since this particular hospital sounds like it's pretty leniant with visitors, then she's kind of out of luck. Her best bet is to explain to him that while she is very happy he's visiting the child, that she wants to limit the number of people their baby is exposed to. Now, the thing is, if she does this, SHE has to comply, too. If she tells him - FAMILY ONLY, then she has to do the same.

    She gave him rights as a father with that birth certificate, and unless she has a police restraining order against him, not much is going to keep him from that baby at this point.
  5. by   babynurselsa
    Many Nicu's have open visitation. THis means that anyone can visit if accompanied by a parent. If she has this guy on the birth certificate, unfortunately he can pretty much bring in whoever he wants. The only thing she can pretty much do is try to ttalk to the FOB and see if she can convince him not to bring his girlfriend back. Otherwise security and the social worker are gonna get involved and that may be more trouble than anyone wants.
  6. by   babynurselsa
    OMG Gompers you are getting so close to your big day!!!!
    I hope you are feeling good.
  7. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from Gompers
    In my hospital, the situation would be handled like this...

    If the parents are married, the husband is automatically given a wristband and the title of "father" regardless of what the actual paternity might be. If the parents aren't married, it depends on the birth certificate. If the mom listed her boyfriend and he signed it, then that's that - he's the father and he has rights. Had she left the father portion blank and/or he had not signed it, then he wouldn't have any rights at all.

    So because it's already been filed and everything, I'm sorry to say that he has every right to visit his child. As the father, he also has the right to bring in whomever he chooses. Some hospitals only allow immediate family, others allow anyone so long as they're not sick and are accompanied by one of the parents. Since this particular hospital sounds like it's pretty leniant with visitors, then she's kind of out of luck. Her best bet is to explain to him that while she is very happy he's visiting the child, that she wants to limit the number of people their baby is exposed to. Now, the thing is, if she does this, SHE has to comply, too. If she tells him - FAMILY ONLY, then she has to do the same.

    She gave him rights as a father with that birth certificate, and unless she has a police restraining order against him, not much is going to keep him from that baby at this point.
    Yes, that is pretty much what they told her. She has no legal reason for a restraining order, they are both professionals, he is just an SOB without a moral bone in his body. She knows she can't keep him from visiting the child, but it's the girlfriend she's upset about. She just feels her baby boy needs to be surrounded by people that truly care about him, not someone who somes and say, "Gee, look at him!" that has no vested interest in whether he lives or dies.

    It's just a mess.

    I appreciate all the responses.
  8. by   Gompers
    Quote from BSNtobe2009
    Yes, that is pretty much what they told her. She has no legal reason for a restraining order, they are both professionals, he is just an SOB without a moral bone in his body. She knows she can't keep him from visiting the child, but it's the girlfriend she's upset about. She just feels her baby boy needs to be surrounded by people that truly care about him, not someone who somes and say, "Gee, look at him!" that has no vested interest in whether he lives or dies.

    It's just a mess.

    I appreciate all the responses.

    Oh, I didn't mean anything by the restraining order response - I just meant that that is the ONLY reason I could think of where the father loses his rights. And like I said, if she doesn't want the girlfriend coming to visit, she's going to have to put some kind of a limit on who can visit, PERIOD. If he can't bring friends, neither can she. They have equal rights here.

    I hope it all works out.
  9. by   RainDreamer
    At our hospital it would be handled the same way as they're handling it at yours. She let him sign the birth certificate, therefore she is giving him rights to the child.

    2 people get arm bands. If the parents are married the arm bands are automatically given to mom and dad. If they're not married, then mom automatically gets one and then she choses who gets the other arm band (grandma, friend, etc). ONE of those 2 people have to be at the bedside with any other visitors ..... doesn't matter on who's visiting though, it can be anybody. The only restrictions we have is with children ...... they have to have immunization records and can only stay at the bedside ~ 15 minutes at a time. But as long as 1 person has an arm band, the other visitor can be anybody unless the mom has a restraining order or something against the person (abusive relationships, etc).

    Believe me, we've had much more messed up family situations than the one you describe. It's pretty sad.
  10. by   rn/writer
    Here are some thoughts for your friend to consider:

    Human nature being what it is, there is a strong tendency toward perversity. That means whenever we're told we must do something, we often dig in our heels and decide that nobody is going to force us to do it. Conversely, when we're told we can't do something, that inner rebel says, "Just try and stop me."

    It could be that the more she resists the visits, the more determined the father and the gf will become to show up.

    It doesn't sound like your friend has any legal standing to keep these visits from taking place. All she can do is start thinking creatively.

    If he is the legal father (and it would appear that placing his name on the birth certificate makes him so), she not only can't refuse him access now, she needs to know that he has the right to become involved long term. It's in her best interest (AND the baby's), to do the very difficult task of setting aside her "new mom of a vulnerable child" emotions so she can take a look at her options.

    One good possibility is that this man will step up and truly shoulder his responsibility in a way that is respectful, reasonable, and willing to place the baby's needs first. If he can bring himself to do that, working with him may complicate your friend's life more than she would choose at this point, but his presence could be a good thing overall.

    Another good option is that if he isn't going to behave in healthy ways over the long haul, that the novelty of the tiny NICU baby will soon wear off and he'll book (taking gf with him) when he realizes how much the baby's care will ask of him.

    Your friend can turn the current tension-filled situation around by dropping the tug-of-war rope and coming up with the exact opposite of the "normal" response. Instead of resisting the FOB's visits, she can arrange to meet him at the NICU or some other neutral place so they can communicate. Have him bring the gf along, by all means.

    Then she can lay out a plan to include him/them in the baby's care, not only while the baby is in the NICU, but down the road. She can talk about CPR classes and apnea monitors and any other special care needs the baby might have and ask him/them when it would be convenient to learn about these extras. She can also speak of some of the risks involved and mention the emotional turmoil she goes through at times.

    If this guy has potential (his track record seems to indicate otherwise), he might balk initially, but he'll still want to be involved. If he's basically self-serving and he's conciously or unconciously using his baby to appeal to the gf (Must Love NICU Babies), they'll probably both start backing off, making excuses, and skipping agreed upon appointments or visits.

    I'm guessing there's a strong novelty factor in play right now. The baby might seem more like a cute puppy (awwwww) until they are introduced to the world of heavy-duty responsibility and what that might require of them.

    If your friend seeks to welcome and embrace rather than resist and reject, first off, she'll have the advantage of surprise. Then she can begin to use the perversity principle to her advantage. The more she wants the FOB and his gf to take a hike, the more she should strive to include them.

    Maybe they'll surprise her and step up in ways she could not have imagined. That may not be her ideal scenario, but it could have some important benefits for her and the baby in the long term (not the least of which is a lack of animosity).

    More likely, the curiosity and the entertainment aspect will wear off and the care and feeding of a NICU baby will seem more daunting and less fun.

    Taking the contest and conquest out of the situation means there is nothing to score, nothing to prove, nothing to win.

    The gf could be an unwitting ally in all of this. She might not have any desire to hook up with a man who a.) is heavily involved with a fragile child (and the mother who is part of the deal), or b.) is such a cad that he refuses to be there for his own flesh and blood. Then, too, she might make their continued relationship contingent on the FOB backing away and having only minimal involvement.

    It might seem like I'm saying your friend has to put her child on the line to scope out what's happening with the father. In a way, that's true, but the baby is in the safety of a highly controlled environment with many people witnessing every interaction. Your friend can use this supervision and scrutiny to her advantage--she can call the father out and see what kind of man he really is with many others observing. Her positive efforts can also count greatly in her favor if and when there are hearings and court dates (she should keep a diary).

    Since your friend can't stop the visits, it seems like her only choice is to use them to her advantage.

    I wish her well.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Nov 7, '06
  11. by   Gompers
    Spectacular post, Miranda. Great advice.
  12. by   BSNtobe2009
    Miranda did have a spectacular post and THANK YOU!

    Well, so far, he hasn't brought the girlfriend back. My friend is Latin and has a spitfire temper and her and her ex have had some major blowouts, and he's even admitted that he's never seen anyone throw one like her.

    She told him yesterday, as her and I were leaving...she grabbed him by the arm and whispered in his ear, "You can bring anyone you want, but if you bring any of your f***buddies around my child again. I'll embarrass them so bad they'll be jumping out the window to get away."

    Now, my friend would NEVER cause a scene in a hospital, especially in a NICU where there are other babies, families, healthcare workers just trying to do their job, etc...but HE doesn't know that

    We'll see if it works. As soon as we turned the corner, we had a huge laugh down the hallway.

    Baby is off the vent!
  13. by   ElvishDNP
    Quote from BSNtobe2009

    Baby is off the vent!
    That is definitely a step in the right direction. Best wishes to you all.
  14. by   txspadequeenRN
    Yeah, Ive been watching her countdown and getting jealous...lololololol


    Quote from babynurselsa
    OMG Gompers you are getting so close to your big day!!!!
    I hope you are feeling good.

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