Support system is not supportive

My son has been in the NICU for 15 days now. When he was born his trachea was not connected to his stomach so he had to have surgery 24 hours after birth. This was very hard on my husband and I since we have a two year old and didn't know any of this in advance while I was pregnant so it was a shock and not something we prepared for. He is now stable and doing well but the first week we juggled my two year old and coming to the hospital and it was exhausting. My parents and my husbands parents took turns watching him in our home and I realized quickly that this wasn't a good idea. Everyone had different rules and he was already beginning to act different. I decided that he would go back to daycare during the day so we could be at the hospital. I'm very grateful for the help from my parents and in laws and I don't want to seem like that was not appreciated.

Yesterday my parents visited at the hospital in the morning and when they left I was left feeling annoyed. They were in the way of the nurses or hovering over them or making awful faces like my child was suffering or being hurt by them. He is now used to all of this since it's all he's known for the 15 days of his life. The nurses have been amazing and I was honestly embarrassed by how they were acting. I'm sure the nurses have seen worse but it was just uncalled for.

THEN at night, my in laws visited. I do not have the most tolerance for my mother in law in general due to past events. I was playing with my two year old in the hospital play room while they visited. When we came back to the room my mother in law was sobbing. I was instantly panicked that something had happened while I was gone. When the nurse said no everything was fine, I was instantly pissed. My husband seemed mad as well and said "why the hell are you crying like that?" My son is fine and healing so it was just uncalled for.

Why are we the ones who have to be the strong ones through this and comfort other family members? Shouldnt our support system be supporting us? I just don't think it's fair on us to go through this and have to be strong for everyone else as well. They are the ones bringing me down more than the actual situation!

Do I have a right to be annoyed and not want any visitors? Or is the stress getting to me and making me irritable? Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be appreciated.

4 Replies

  • In reply to Christine L:

    not sure why when I used the apostrophe, it put in weird text. Hopefully my response is clear otherwise.
  • Hi,
    I completely understand your experiences you had and will absolutely help confirm for you that your feelings are right on point! When my twin sons were born at 29 weeks via emergency C-section, they were obviously sent immediately to the NICU. My husband and I were in complete shock and I personally did not want to see anyone. In his great wisdom, my father-in-law decided that day that it made sense to tell my husband that his childhood dog had died that day....yeah...great timing for that heartfelt story, huh? Sometimes in grieving situations, I have found that some people feel that their grief or struggle is bigger than others' or they feel that they have to make sure everyone knows they are grieving too. And to top that experience off, when my children were about 2 weeks into their 8 week stay in the NICU, my own brother decides to tell me he and his wife are expecting. Truthfully, I couldn't care less at that point in time and honestly, I was down right ticked off that he would have the lack of awareness to tell me about their joy when I was struggling with the thought that I could lose 1 or 2 of my children.
    Right or wrong, when you are in a situation like worrying about your child in the NICU, it is your absolute right to be selfish. Tell people they can't come. Tell people not to call and ask questions. Only you know what you need and if the people around you are not understanding of your needs, then they just need to back off until you are ready for them again. In the 8 weeks my kids were in the NICU, I only allowed my mom to come one time and it was right before they were discharged. There's no wrong way to handle situations like this.
    It's been 6 years since I experienced the NICU and thankfully my kids are now thriving, so I will tell you that at some point in time, this will seem like such a distant memory. People (if they are sensible) will completely forget and forgive any seemingly 'unfriendly' or 'ungrateful' behavior.
    Do you, girl! That's all your child needs. :)
  • In reply to Hunter and Randi's Mom:

    Thank you so much! It's great to know that i'm not alone and I love the idea of taking a break when others come to visit. Even just taking a walk will help. Thanks again!
  • I could have written this when my son was in the NICU. I think we told our parents that we appreciate their support and we are glad they come to visit, but to please not bother the nurses and doctors, who are trying to do their job taking care of the babies. Also, we told everyone that the nurses and doctors can only give information on our son to us, so if our parents had questions, they needed to ask us, not the doctors or nurses. As you said, the nurses have seen worse and they will let your parents or inlaws know if they are getting in the way. Beyond that, I usually left when others came to visit. I would go take a walk, get some food or go pump. I knew my baby had someone else there who loves him, so I could use that time for a break and avoid getting annoyed by everyone.
    I'm sorry everyone is not being more supportive. The NICU is so stressful and it would be nice if the grandparents were supporting you instead of the other way around. Feel free to vent here anytime.
    I will be keeping you and your son in my thoughts.