Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Real life, baby

Woody has officially outgrown a couple things now; he's getting to be big enough (up to 1700 g today, so ~3 lbs 11 oz) that a hat, a shirt, and a blanket are too small for him. Of course, in our mind, this means that we actually need to get him some clothes. He has been out of the isolette, which regulated his heat, so we have to put him in these ridiculously small and cute outfits that few places carry. It's been really, really fun to actually go and get him some clothes, because it reinforces the idea that he is an actual baby that has to do real baby things.

Woody has been so much more quiet and happy since being off the ventilator. He has not come down in oxygen needs as quickly as anyone would have preferred, but it's pretty clear that he's doing all right and that he's not going back to the Dräger vent anytime soon.

Folks, let me step back for just a moment into meta-commentary mode, as I feel comfortable enough analyzing my own reactions to my friends and family in order to say something about it. I understand that it's really difficult to deal with loved ones that have a crisis underway. I totally understand, because in the last five years or so I've been involved in a variety of family/friend situations that were extremely scary and unpleasant and awkward, from the death of close family members to visits to the hospital to estrangements. What do you say to someone who has a baby go to the NICU?

In the short term, I was really overwhelmed with what was happening as a happy and highly anticipated pregnancy abruptly seemed to spiral towards disaster. I started this site, for example, to take a lot of pressure off of having to make constant phone calls to keep people up to date. People who did call me during that time often times got a very terse and sometimes rude new father on the phone as I didn't feel like talking much. In the medium to long term, however, I've found that I'm craving the human contact more and want to talk to friends and get out of the hospital and do some interesting things. People had offered to make us food, and to do things to help us out, but it's a natural human tendency that as a crisis goes on for a long time, we tend to get fatigued with it and not follow through with such things. (Bear in mind, this is really not directed at the readers of this site, who have been so involved and kind and have stayed in contact in the way that I like to-- but there have been some of my friends in real life* that seemed to have just dropped off the face of the earth.)

So to answer my rhetorical question, I think the best way to deal with friends and family who are facing tough situations like this is to contact them, acknowledge what's going on, be happy about the happy stuff and sympathize with the sad stuff, and just remain present. It may be awkward to talk about the hard aspects of life, but no one says you have to be a psychotherapist. Just don't disappear.
*Meatspace, as the kids say.


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Grammie said...

What a very wise and insightful post! There's a book here, son.

And what good news that Woody is up to 1700 grams. That means he's just over 3 times his birth weight, if my math is right.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Angie Theisen said...

Way to say it like it is, Nathan. Hope you haven't taken any offense to the people who don't know what to do with themselves in this situation. You had made some comments about how the parents with babies who are born without complications (or the slight complications there were are extrememly insignificant in comparison) don't realize how lucky they are. Since Jack is one of the most important and for sure the most talked about person in my life- I felt a little funny talking to you about how great he is. Only in fear that you would think of me as one of the ungreatful parents of a healthy child. Now that I write it down- it seems a little silly. So, when would you like to come over for some bocce ball, croquet and kabobs????

At 5:57 PM, Anonymous jared said...

As someone who also has been through a lot of the "crisis" things you mention, death divorce hospital estrangement (and, i'll add, recovery), I concur with your "presence" conclusion and thank both maggie and you for your continued happiness / sympathy for and presence with me.

Always a student and always desirous of self-improvement, I shall continue to do my best to learn from the example you set in the healthy relationships you've forged and maintained.

with much love,


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