So, as I wrote a bit in the previous post, when a premature baby is born, the parents are "thrown" into the world of miscarriages, often without preparation. All of a sudden like that.
Many times without knowing this world at all.
The hospitals provide an excellent medical response to premature babies. They are professional and experienced but by virtue of their role, they are focused on medical care but are not always aware that the parents are in shock and experiencing a crisis - and therefore, are left alone in the situation. Moreover, even if there is (and there is not always) a response from psychologists in premature babies, this response is spot-on and usually does not continue after the premature baby's release from the hospital.
So what happens after delivery from preterm delivery? Welcome to your new world, which is not the world you expected and intended. Sometimes very far from it.
I remember us, a couple with a 4-month-old baby, who weighs 2 kg, leaving the hospital with a small basket, getting into the car and actually...driving with all the anxieties, towards an unknown and unfamiliar future.
Some uncertainty, tests, follow-ups, question marks, fears and anxieties.
In fact, we expected for 4 months to return home with our baby, then we realized that here everything is just beginning..
This unknown can be divided into several dimensions:
- Physical health - ensuring the baby's survival, well-being and mental prosperity
- The relationship, the children at home (if any), the extended family, friends and the environment
- The perception of the role of parenting for premature babies and the meanings derived from it
I would like to expand in this section on the dimension of physical health:
A week after discharge I had my first visit to the pediatrician. He conducted an initial examination for my daughter, I was tense and waited for the end of the examination to hear his opinion. He finished with a big smile and told me -
- Okay. The baby is cute but you know I can't say anything right now
- What do you mean?
- You know that until she is a year old it will not be possible to tell if she will have CP (cerebral palsy) or not
- But I see she's moving her organs all the time
- it does not mean anything. At this point nothing can be known
When I talk about the dimension of physical health, I mean questions like: Will the baby survive even after leaving the hospital? Will you gain weight? will you grow up What "leftovers" will she carry with her to adulthood? What kind of life will she have? And us?
And even if we do our best to be the best caregivers, can we ensure her successful growth? ensure you develop? will she be ok There is a real fear of everything, she is so small, will she survive and thrive?
When they ask me, why should parents seek emotional therapy? I have so much to say, but if I sum it up in one sentence, I will say that - to not feel alone with this experience.
If a professional would listen and accommodate us as parents... if someone would tell us about the path that awaits us... which has a lot of difficulty but also room for hope, that if we have the strength and resilience, the path may be more optimistic.
If someone would give us a sense of partnership and hope, share with us the experience of others and be equipped with the tools to cope, the road could be a little less difficult and certainly less lonely.
Today as a psychotherapist, at the clinic, I meet parents who manage to pave the way from crisis to hope. In treatment we deal with:
Raising the sense of the parents' ability to raise the baby and to look forward with hope and love towards growth and joint growth of the premature baby, alongside the challenges on the way
processing the birth experience,
Empathy for the parents' vulnerability and fear for the baby's life
Holding parental anxieties in the present and towards the future
Dealing with the human existential fear of the expiration of life
Today I know it could have been better. - I know it could be easier, less stressful.
I feel a sense of mission to take care of the parents of premature babies and help them
The treatment provides an effective response to the unsatisfied needs of early parenthood.
In the following times I will expand on the other 2 dimensions and the method of treatment, and how it can help.