Mom Left in Tears After Reading NICU Nurse's Judgmental Note About Her

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A mom sits in a chair in the NICU ward, gently cradling her baby close.
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A child's stay in the NICU ward -- whether for days, weeks, or even months -- is never easy on any parent. And yet each year, an estimated 15 million premature babies pass through its doors, as their families anxiously await an official prognosis, watch for improvement, and hopefully hear the news that they can finally go home.  

But as a parent, the last thing you'd expect is to discover after endless hours of worry and hallway pacing is that the very people who've been caring for your child around-the-clock and taking meticulous medical notes about their condition have also been taking notes on you. (Yes, you.) 

  • That's exactly what one mom claims to have encountered recently, and her anonymous post on Mumsnet has others weighing in.

    "I'm in tears," the anonymous poster shared after requesting her baby's medical notes from a stay in the NICU ward for a premature birth. "Found a part where apparently they started a visiting log as they felt we didn't stay on the ward long enough, that I wasn't talkative enough, and that my husband 'rarely visited.'"

    In her post, the mother defends herself, explaining that she doesn't drive and that she has an older child with disabilities. "My husband works and at that time was working night shifts," she continued. "They KNEW this."

    Bust most of all, she shared, "I feel distraught by this notion that at my most vulnerable when I was trying my best I was judged as somehow not good enough."

    Ugh. Just reading those words feels like a punch to the gut.

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  • Many online users quickly chimed in, offering their support. 

    Screenshot of user Nodramanollama's post offering sympathy.
    Mumsnet

    Some even shared their own NICU stories and suggested she bring it up with the nurses if it bothered her so much.

    "This was the worst part of when my son was in NICU I felt emotionally split, as I had an overwhelming instinct to stay with my baby and also I couldn’t stand to be apart from my other children," one user wrote. "Also physically and emotionally healing from birth didn’t help. Your situation is far harder than mine was so I have a lot of sympathy for how you are feeling. I completely understand how hurtful that comment must be and I feel like you are owed and apology and explanation."

  • More than a few noted they would be hurt too, with one user saying "some people have no idea of how tough it is and how people cope differently."

    Text of Loungewearfan's comment on Mumsnet
    Mumsnet

    Another user shared that she "hated" the logging that went on when her son was in the NICU, saying it felt "very much like 'Big Brother is watching.'" 

    "I do agree that some NICU/SCBU staff come from backgrounds which make it hard for them to realize the practical implications of some of the problems families face," added another commenter.

  • Others jumped in to play devil's advocate, pointing out that it's actually standard protocol to keep track of visits and parental behavior.

    Screenshot of Confusedbeetle's post on Mumsnet.
    Mumsnet

    "It was an observation, not a judgment," wrote one user, whereas others noted that if they never raised an issue with her, it likely wasn't that strong a concern.

    "Don’t take it personally," added another user who claimed to work in a maternity ward. "Nothing of huge concern came from it, and it’s just something that staff are required to do."

  • Of course, because this is the Internet, there were plenty of others who were quick to drop some not-so-thinly-veiled judgments of their own.

    Screenshot of text by one user criticizing the poster's husband.
    Mumsnet

    Most threw a hefty amount of shade at the poster's husband, raising eyebrows over what they too felt were infrequent visits.

    "Sorry, I would have been concerned at once a week too," wrote one user. "That's abysmal!"

    "I'm not surprised," added another user. "Once a week for the dad? That would ring alarm bells. Most parents would be there all day everyday or at least take it in turns."

    Another noted that it's the nurses' job to be mindful of "poor bonding" -- which of course comes across like a cheap crack at the couple's parenting.

  • But mom was quick to add that although her husband visited daily in the beginning, his work schedule eventually made it harder to come as often.

    Text of NICUProblem's post defending her husband.
    Mumsnet

    Even then, she says, he called the NICU ward daily, and she was doing the bulk of the visits only because of logistics.

    Still, this did little to quiet some critics.

    "Do you really not see why the baby's dad visiting only once a week wasn't a concern?" wrote another person.

    "Your [dear husband] going only once a week is really poor," added another user, who also questioned why he couldn't go in between shifts, and if he felt it was "more important spending half an hour with his child."

    (Ouch. That one was harsh.)

  • I don't know about you, but I couldn't help but feel for this mother, especially after all she's been through.

    Screenshot of NICUProblem's post.
    Mumsnet

    To read secret judgments about me from anyone would be enough to send me crawling into a dark hole; but I can't imagine the judgment coming from NICU nurses of all people, who should be well aware of just how much you're going through when your child is in their care.

  • The fact is, not every parent can spend all day, every day in the NICU. 

    As heartbreaking as it is, some are forced to return to work right away, thanks to shoddy parental leave, or, as this mother notes, some have to tend to other children. That's just the reality -- and precisely why the NICU is fully staffed with the best doctors, nurses, and medical personnel.

  • But here's my other bone to pick with this post that few commenters seemed to call out: How can a mother not be "talkative" enough in the NICU ward? 

    Maybe she's got a lot on her mind. Maybe she's dealing with a whole lot at home, before she even walks through those doors. Maybe it's her business if she wants to come in and sit quietly with her child.

    The bottom line? I think one Mumsnet user in particular hit the nail right on the head when she said simply, "You didn't let your son down at all. You did the best you could in a bad situation."

    And in the end, that's really all that matters.