8:15 Perinatal Loss: First You Care
10:00 Professional Tools for Compassionate Caring
10:45 We Remember: Parent Panel
12:30 What Makes the Discussion Difficult
1:15-1:30 Travel to the Sim Lab- 1 Jelke
1:30 Scenarios / Break out sessions / Scenarios Debrief
3:30: Final Debrief
So, the above is the agenda for a workshop I was asked to attend as a member of the Parent Panel (with a lovely introduction and nametag as “Caitlin, Anderson’s Mom.” The workshop was for nurses, chaplains, social workers, etc. who work on Labor & Delivery or in the NICU, and it was all about providing comprehensive care for families who are experiencing the loss (or imminent loss) of a baby, no matter what gestational age (or actual age, for NICU babies). For the workshop participants, the day included as well meetings with professional bereavement photographers from NILMDTS. I was so excited as well to arrive in time for the session before mine, in which my favorite chaplain discussed compassionate ways to involve a full care team (one important point: Never say “Would you like to see the chaplain?” because that (a) assumes a religiosity that a parent might not wish foisted upon them and (b) scares the parents into thinking a chaplain must come imminently because their child is dying now. Instead say “Our care team includes many people, including a chaplain and social worker, who will both be stopping by today to see if they can be of assistance.” This way bereaved parents won’t have to struggle with making a choice, and will understand this is the “usual” standard of care that they can choose to accept or not).
Then it was our turn, we bereaved parents (well, all moms, in this case). It was so great, as it always is, to tell Anderson’s story. I was glad too because I was the only parent panelist to have such a comprehensive experience of the care at my hospital- Maternal/Fetal Medicine, L&D, NICU – and the nurses in those divisions were the ones in the audience. The other mothers only experienced L&D, so I was glad to have such insight. I got to say everything I wanted to say, and the very, very best part was that I knew some of the participants and it was so good to see them. Our favorite chaplain, and my favorite L&D nurse. And the best was one of the NICU nurses, who came up to me afterwards and said, “You don’t know me, but I was one of Anderson’s night nurses. I had him after his PDA ligation surgery, and I remember him. We talk about him frequently. He made a big impact, and he isn’t forgotten.” So definitely the best part of my day! Another nurse came up to note that she became a NICU nurse after the death of her own baby in the NICU. It all just helped me remember how much our babies inspire us and others every day. I’m so glad I was able to participate!