the nicu

11 Mar

I’m in the neonatal intensive care unit this month.  It’s a foreign nation and language.  With TFLs, TPNs, and HFOVs.  Our patients are of ELBW and suffer from BPD and AOP, with notable A&Bs.  I can’t really tell you what all that means.  But it’s for this reason that the rotation comes highly recommended by pediatric residents–gives some exposure to this world before being thrown in with more responsibility as a resident.

It’s totally surreal caring for sweet infants who were conceived more recently than our little nugget still in utero.  (I got some good advice to wait to do this rotation until several weeks after viability.)  For the most part, these peanuts are going to be fine.  One of the patients I’m following is now a couple days old, but was originally due weeks after our girl.  The parents were at the bedside today, the mother fighting back tears.  My incredibly lovely (and hilarious and thoughtful) attending approached her.  “So many hormone fluctuations and lack of sleep!  Of course you need to cry!  But look at how strong your girl is.  We’ll give her some light [phototherapy] and we’ll let her grow, and then we’ll send her home with you, and you’re both going to be fine.”

Speaking of growing strong:

photo 1 (19)photo 2 (18)photo 3 (8)


14 Responses to “the nicu”

  1. fraint March 11, 2014 at 10:41 pm #


    • annaojesus March 11, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      that would be you with my daughter 🙂

      On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 10:41 PM, anna in med school wrote:


  2. serend1p1ty March 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    oh, these pictures are the sweetest!

    • annaojesus March 11, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

      thank you so much! she loves lifting 🙂

      On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 10:43 PM, anna in med school wrote:


  3. bhan March 11, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    This is the most adorable thing I have seen. Thank you for making my night!

    • annaojesus March 12, 2014 at 3:43 am #

      haha, awww! thank you for making mine!

      On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 11:13 PM, anna in med school wrote:


  4. phantomdiver March 12, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    Love the weightlifting! It reminds me of when our two oldest, then about 18 months and 3 1/2, “helped” their daddy do push-ups. Their method of helping him was to lie on his back. When he could stop laughing, it really was a good work-out!

    • annaojesus March 12, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      ha! i love it! what a sweet image 🙂

      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 8:42 AM, anna in med school wrote:


  5. Rebecca Wood March 12, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    I cried almost every day the first two weeks my baby was in the NICU. The hormone fluctuation and lack of sleep had little to do with it. My little girl was born weighing 790 grams at 26 weeks 0 days. I cried because I didn’t get to see her until two days after she was born. I cried because I couldn’t hold her or touch her. I cried because I was scared. I cried because the world I knew no longer existed and my heart was broken.

    Yes, she was strong and in three months she came home. The fact she survived doesn’t give back many of the things lost.

    • annaojesus March 12, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      Rebecca, I am so, so sorry! That sounds like an absolute nightmare that would cause a significant injury to your family. I’m so glad she survived and I hope she’s otherwise well, and I know that certainly doesn’t eliminate the pain you experienced.

      For my part, I hope my post did not trivialize your struggle–that was never my intent. An almost 31-week kid is a far cry from 26 weeks but, regardless, still very very hard. There are some kids we’re caring for that require a great deal more care and medical support, but some that just need time to grow. I cannot imagine the agony of parents, but I try to be respectful and compassionate, especially since I’m sure it’s not easy to have a medical student 31 weeks pregnant on the team caring for your too young child.

      Please do let me know if anything I said upset you, and thank you for sharing a part of your story.

      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 11:14 AM, anna in med school wrote:


      • Rebecca Wood March 12, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

        My baby was born at a large hospital that is accustomed to micropreemies. I felt some of the neonatalogists had become so used to working with micropreemies they had forgotten what a big deal the birth of a micropreemie is.

        I sat by my babies isolette any chance I had. If she died, I wanted to have spent every possible minute with her. Additionally, because there was so little I could do… sitting with her was comforting because it was the only thing I could do for her. Many of the neonatalogists couldn’t understand why I’d sit there and actually discouraged it. I felt like there was a huge disconnect between some of the doctors and the parents. On the other hand, there were also very good ones that understood well.

        It’s interesting… there is a great difference between a 31 weeker and a micro preemie. However, it is a huge debate in the preemie mom realm. The parents of older preemies often say, “A preemie is a preemie” meaning that all of our experiences are similar. I vehemently disagree and appreciate that you note there is a difference.

        I don’t envy you being thirty one weeks pregnant on NICU rotation. I can think of so many reasons why that may be tough for you. Hang in there! You will be a great doctor.

  6. Jennifer March 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    I am looking forward to reading more from you. Good luck with your baby and your NICU rotation. My daughter Joy was born at 23 weeks last year. Due to modern medicine and prayers she is doing great today. I hemorrhaged at 17 weeks for the first of 4 times because of 100% placenta previa, which turned into placenta accreta (which I believe was caused by 3 prior c-sections). After she came home from 121 days in the NICU, I wrote a memoir called “From Hope To Joy” about my life-threatening
 pregnancy and my daughter’s 4 months in the NICU (with my 3 young sons at 
home), which is now available on both the Amazon and Barnes&Noble websites. It was quite a roller 
coaster that I am certain some of you have been on or are currently riding on. My mission is to provide hope to women struggling with
 high-risk pregnancies, encourage expectant mothers to educate themselves before 
electing cesarean deliveries, provide families of premature babies a realistic 
look at what lies ahead in their NICU journey, and show that miracles can 
happen, and hope can turn into joy.
 Please see my website and and watch our amazing video of my daughter’s miracle birth and life at:
Thank you.

  7. pippajhh March 20, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    Precious photos! I’m in third year med on paeds right now and I have spent some of my ward time on the special care nursery (aka NICU), it is HARD.

    • annaojesus March 20, 2014 at 6:30 am #

      Thank you so much! I hope you’re liking peds! The NICU is rough, but probably better or worse depending on where you are…I’m at a place where there are fewer scary genetic anomalies, the families are typically present and supportive–that certainly helps. And to see some of these premies truly improve (after a long, long time :/)–it’s remarkable! Thank you for your note!

      On Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 6:11 AM, anna in med school wrote:


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