No foot is too small … the bereavement support in TIN

by Claudia Ravaldi

“No foot is so small … as not to leave a footprint on this earth”

The hospitalization in NICU

Whether it is long or short, a child’s hospital stay in NICU is always a time of great worry and stress for any parent.

When a child is born severely premature, we know that, despite the treatments and centers of excellence, its survival is not always possible.

There are children who leave us almost immediately, not even time for a caress.

Others who stay with us for longer, a time that is suspended between hope and fear, between life and death.

That time for parents is always very stressful and difficult.

If a child dies, and hope with him, the pain overwhelms everyone: parents, family members, and even, often, health workers.

After the death of your baby you may feel detached from yourself, from others, from everyone.

Some mothers and some fathers say they also felt detached from their child, unable to make any decision.

Silence takes the place of the sounds of machinery, the words of the doctors, the encouragement of the nurses.

Sometimes, someone talks too much, like for fill the holes dug by pain. Sometimes someone does not speak, they go away, they leave the room: because our little children fill it all, that room, even if they have gone away.

In those difficult and painful moments, it is precious to take the time to reflect with the operators and with their families on what is still possible to do.

For some parents, there wasn’t even time to shake their baby’s hand. For many mothers, admitted to another hospital after an emergency cesarean, no encounter with the child was possible during the time he lived.

Some parents have told how strong the fear was, after the birth of a severely premature baby, and how difficult it was to cross the threshold of the NICU and look at it, see their child struggle.

The hearts and heads of the TIN parents overwhelmed by prematurity and then by mourning look a bit like the post-atomic deserts , where everything has exploded.

Trained operators are often able to collect some “pieces” and reconstruct a post-atomic “project” with their parents, starting from the moments following the mourning.

For example, operators can :

  1. respectfully prepare the child’s body and give it to the parents or hold it themselves;
  2. help parents take pictures with the baby, or the little one;
  3. carefully collect his memories, the prints of his little hands and feet;
  4. to help prepare the rites (religious or secular), the salutation, and all the bureaucratic and medical procedures that are necessary after a perinatal death.

These are all things that can be done in the ward, together with the operators.

Always ask for all the information you want and express any doubts you have.

Don’t be afraid to ask too many questions, or to ask silly questions – there are no silly questions when a child dies, only bereaved parent questions.

Take the time to be with the baby if you wish.

Ask for practical or psychological help: in those moments it is very important.

Parents tell:

“In those days we were completely abandoned to ourselves and without psychological assistance. My baby was born prematurely during a vacation period: consequently there was no active psychological service. “ Antonella and Luciano

“Our child was hospitalized 24 days in NICU … in 24 days I have not seen a psychologist in that department, a support that could have made the difference in those many moments of despair we have experienced.” Katia and Giuseppe

“We also received good assistance in the end of life of all three from the staff of the TIN: being able to pick them up, kiss and be with them in the last moments of their short lives is an indelible, tender and poignant memory for us.” Barbara and Antonio

“Our daughter Gaia was 27 weeks old: after six days of hospitalization in the NICU she flew to heaven. The only memory we have is linked to the total abandonment by health workers, uncomfortable and uncomfortable in their role. No one to support us and help us greet our angel forever! We went home with empty arms, with the regret of never having held, even for a moment, our daughter, because they did not allow us to ” Mario and Davila

“I am trying to inform my colleagues and doctors who work with me about the correct procedures for perinatal bereavement care, as a bereaved mother and as a professional” Lina

“CiaoLapo Onlus” is active online on the website and on the Facebook pages: National CiaoLapo, BabyLoss info and the CiaoLapo pages of the various Italian regions.

We are present in 16 regions with a facilitated self-help group or with listening groups for parents and bereaved family members.

With our activities, our caregivers and our volunteer parents we offer emotional and practical support after a perinatal bereavement.

If and when you like, write to us.

We will try to go a little way together.

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