The care of the parents of a severely premature baby

by Claudia Ravaldi

Francesco was born 31 weeks +1. It weighed about 900 grams.

He was immediately admitted to neonatal resuscitation (there was no place in the NICU).

We could only see him an hour a day, from 5pm to 6pm. Early in the morning we could make a phone call to find out how he had spent the night. That’s all. There we lived a schizophrenic situation: a doctor (who I scotomized) once communicated the diagnosis said to me “What are you crying, lady? Look, I am calling the psychologist!” .. as if it were a threat.

And shortly thereafter, always her: “There’s nothing to do, let’s wait for her to die”. Sic!

On the other hand, other staff who instead calmly and sweetly explained to us what could be done and nurses who acted as godmothers when we decided to baptize him.

The cardiac surgeon built all the instruments of the right size for him “If you want I will try, I have already had an operation for a malformation like yours (one case in a million I studied afterwards), only that child weighed 2 kg, I it takes two days to get smaller instruments for Francesco “.

So … a roller coaster for every minute spent in those days.

He was operated on.

He was 10 days old.

We reviewed it in cardiac resuscitation.

His little cradle next to comatose adults.

There was all the love possible around him. Actually for us too. Although we could enter an hour in the afternoon.

Then the phone call (we had just returned home, I was sitting on my sister’s sofa, we had left it about an hour before) … that voice that says “Mrs. N …” will never get out of my ears again.

Unfortunately, nobody there was prepared to assist us properly.

They revived him with an open heart. Arrived in a hurry they made us wait outside, they had to “recompose the body”.

It was clean, small, perfect at last without wires or tubes, rolled up in a white sheet from which only the bluish face was sticking out.

I caressed and kissed him.


I didn’t know I could do it. Nobody told me it could. I didn’t even know I could do it.

I did not understand anything there.

Post bereavement care did not exist.

Not contemplated. Not received.

We did it all.

For us everything has been done by CiaoLapo.

My rebirth started from there.

Being the mother of a premature baby, being a pre-mother, is not easy at all. It is not when everything is “in the end” “anyway” all right. It is not when “in the end” remains the “end”, because your baby dies.

When an expected baby dies, no matter how much he weighs, no matter how sick he is, no matter how many weeks of intrauterine life he has lived, if many, if few, if preterm or full term.

When a baby who passes from the belly to the earth dies, it would be important to think about the gift of being able to give him in the arms of his parents, at least once. At least for a while.

Rituals are needed, says the fox to the Little Prince.

Rituals are needed, the grieving mothers say.

Thanks Ilaria, for sharing.

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