NICU, babies, premature, doctor

NICU doctors and nurses can make all the difference for parents of vulnerable babies.

Few things are more heart-wrenching than seeing a baby fighting for its life. The NICU—Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—is the unit in hospitals where babies who are born prematurely or who have health conditions that need specialized treatment go for care. It's a special place, where hope and worry whirl together in a dizzying dance to the irregular rhythm of monitors beeping.

No one likes seeing a baby in the NICU, despite the fact that it gives vulnerable wee ones the best chance to survive and thrive. That's the goal of every NICU, to help babies get to the point where they're OK in the outside world, as well as the goal of every parent and healthcare worker who steps foot in the unit.

For parents, having a baby in the NICU is a harrowing experience, and having doctors and nurses who understand that fully can make all the difference. That's why a tweet about a NICU doctor's "new favorite hobby" being "hyping up" her NICU patients to their parents resonated with so many people.


Dr. Jennifer Sedler is a third-year pediatrics resident at Stanford Pediatrics Residency Program, according to TODAY Parents. She had just finished giving parents updates on their babies' progress when she felt an "overwhelming sense of positivity" that she wanted to share with others. So she sent out a tweet that said, "My new favorite hobby is hyping up my NICU babies to their parents. I list their accomplishments for the day, say how proud I am of them, or highlight how strong they were today. It’s such a joy to see/hear their parents beam with pride over their tiny fighters."

People loved her attitude and passion for her patients and their parents. Knowing that a doctor cares this much is a balm to the terrified hearts of parents who are praying their baby pulls through. When it's clear that parents and doctors are on the same team, both eagerly wanting the same outcome, it's easier for everyone to accept the outcome, whatever it is. And when you know that each day makes a difference, hearing positive, compassionate reports from caregivers can give parents some small measure of hope.

"It's not about sugarcoating it or about providing false hope, because talking about the difficult news and the hard times it's important, too," Sedler told TODAY Parents. "But there's both tangible and intangible victories in the NICU. There's the tangible things like weight gain and lab values. But then there's intangible things like, despite the procedure your baby had to have today they're being strong throughout it, or they're really fighting through this tough time."

People began sharing their stories in replies to her post, some sharing photos of their NICU babies and where they are now, with a flood of praise for the healthcare workers who worked with them.

So many people shared how much they appreciated the care they got from NICU nurses and doctors and how important reports like Dr. Sedler's were to them.

"I absolutely never imagined that would be the response," Sedler told TODAY Parents. "To be totally transparent, I teared up quite a few times reading these stories over the last few days."

Sedler isn't planning on a career in the NICU—her chosen specialty is cardiology, but she had to do a NICU rotation as part of her program to ensure that residents are trained in pediatric care. But her time in the NICU has had an impact.

"There is just such a special energy about the NICU, and about new life and supporting these families that makes it a really special place to work," she said.

Sedler said she believes "positive energy really makes a difference" for patients in the NICU. "I think that going about our lives in that same way, and calling out those little victories, is what's going to help get us through the tough times."

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less