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Why I Didn't Ask 'Why Me?' When My Daughter Was in the NICU

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My daughter has cerebral palsy. I remember her birth like it was yesterday.

I was standing in a room full of isolettes. My baby was in one of them with wires and tubes attached to her frail, little body.

Determined to document what the medical staff said, I kept a journal for her first 121 days. This is how her journey began:

She arrived after 10 hours of labor
No Cesarean section (natural birth)
850 grams (less than 2 pounds)

Was told that her first week will determine her health. (We signed a document to give consent for our daughter to be a participant in a study.)

Bowels working
Respiration started at 60, and now it’s at 16 (we believe that she was chosen for the study, as she is breathing well).

Intravenous feeding (yellow, liquid cereal with protein).
She was crying — mouth open — but there was no sound.
I wish I could do something. I wish I could hold her.
I put my hand through the opening of the isolette and touched her ever so gently.
I went back to my room and cried.

Told about bleeding in her head, but it’s not critical. We have to wait and see if it gets worse.
If so, it could cause a lot of brain damage.
She’s not well. Her skin is milky.

Though the last five days had been very emotional, I put my hand in the isolette and assured my baby that things would work out. I told her that she was strong. Somehow, I knew that she would be coming home with me. There was no doubt in my mind, so when a staff member walked up to me with sympathy in her eyes, I was confused. She said, “I know what you are thinking — why me?”

I was confused and felt disturbed by her question because I hadn’t thought “why me?” This lady clearly wanted to console me, but the only person I wanted to console was my daughter. This tiny baby didn’t know what the world had in store for her, but I could tell that she was up for the fight, and I would be by her side every step of the way. I think the staff member was taken aback when I asked, “Why not me?” I looked at my baby girl and said, “You made it. You’re here. Now, we begin.”

When I gave birth in the 1980s, we did not have the technology we have today. We can learn from platforms like The Mighty; we can share how we got to this point and figure out how we will get to the next point. Just take it one day at a time.

Originally published: April 5, 2022
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