Support for parents who have a baby in NICU.
You see it in every hospital and that is fantastic.
But what about us? The siblings that get left behind. Just standing in front of NICU doors.
Rory spent 6 weeks in NICU, both Norfolk and Norwich and in The Queen Elizabeth in Kings Lynn. Those 6 weeks I spent caring for my younger siblings. Waiting on my mobile to ring. Waiting to be updated. When I did visit, I had to explain who I was. I am just a sibling. An older sibling. I was waiting in front of those NICU doors, waiting to be allowed in.
To walk in and see babies, my baby brother. Practically plug in to the mains. To think is there a time frame for my visit? Will the visiting time run out and they decide that I am not important enough to be here anymore. Do I still have to go by visiting time? Will the nurse who my parents call lovely explain to me about my brother? I sit and wonder if there would be any support for me. The sibling that is standing in front of the NICU door.
Dear parent, would you like support? Dear sibling, nothing. Not a thing. I mean would is it odd for a sibling to ask for help when their brother or sister is intensive care. I’ve never seen a poster aimed at people like me, the siblings who had to pick up everything at home while their sibling had to fight for their life in hospital. Every time your mobile rings, you wonder what call it will be. Bad or good. After the call, who do you have to support you? No one. You carry on strong for your other siblings at home. No sign of weakness. Not because weakness is a bad thing but because you have no other option. You visit and once again you are a sibling standing in front of the NICU door.
‘I am Rory Thompson’s older sister, Rebecca. My parents are waiting for me.’ and what do I get back, ‘oh….ok.’ It felt like being welcomed with open arms, at least I hoped it would. I was the one who had to explain to my brothers and sister, what was going on with Rory. I was the middle man. The sibling who had to keep it together. I was their shoulder to cry on but who was mine?
Every hospital is different, the time is different. I am yet to discover a support network for siblings who are going through the tough time when they have a brother or sister in NICU. It’s not easy. The not knowing, the waiting in front of the NICU door.