To share or not to share

The arrival of a new baby is a moment to celebrate, a joyous occasion –
yet for parents of babies born too soon that moment can be very different as the reality of having a premature baby sinks in. Sharing the news of a premature birth can be tricky; too upbeat and celebratory and people will think that everything is fine. Too cautious and you can be left with a sadness that no one is celebrating the precious birth of your son or daughter – every birth, early or not should be celebrated.
How to share the news is up to individual parents; how to tell, who to tell, what to say, how much caution to add when you find yourself in uncertain world of NICU and of course whether to share on social media. This post explores the feelings around announcing the arrival of a premature baby, but misses out the ongoing communication required with the outside world during the weeks or months of your neonatal stay.
Throughout our eight week journey we communicated through an email group of family members, keeping them updated of any changes. Day-to-day news was shared directly with grandparents, but this information only touched the surface of what our day-to-day life was really like. I realised this when I read a diary of our time in NICU. The diary had been kept by a grandparent and was based upon the information we had shared with them. There was so much missing. Plans, routines, cares, oxygen levels, incubator temperatures, number of mls, hours between feeds – so much information and so many variables changing, and then changing back again, on a daily basis.
You can be certain of one thing in NICU; there will be ups and downs. Sometimes just keeping on top of these changes yourself is enough and perhaps it is easier to share only the things you are certain of, rather than the uncertainties and the subsequent disappointment or questions that arise from a change.

The Smallest Things

congratsI take a quick look at Facebook and I see a timeline that includes pictures of proud parents presenting their newest arrivals. We ‘like’ photos of cute little bundles, post congratulatory messages and send cards as we share in the joy of new mums and dads. And that is how it should be; a joyous occasion, the arrival of a new precious life, one to be treasured and celebrated. Parents of premature babies are just as proud, but for them the reality is very different.

There is no etiquette, no right or wrong way to celebrate the birth of a baby born small and fragile, but sharing the news of a premature birth is often done with caution. When our son was born with little warning at 30 weeks we told just family and close friends. We found it a difficult to convey that our baby was on a ventilator…

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