guest post by Lenore E. Eklund
Once upon a time, expecting parents planned the birth of their daughter just like every other new family. However, circumstances unforeseen around the child’s health lead to a birth unimagined. The reality while having a child in the NICU feels so unbelievable, the way I made sense of our own experience was through retelling our story as a fairytale.
When my daughter, Charlee, was born 2016 she was taken immediately to the NICU. Two weeks prior to her birth, we learned there were some concerns. However, there was no understanding why the conditions were keeping her in the hospital. As our stay lengthened, we searched for answers to figure out why her oxygen saturations sporadically dropped, why she continually had bradycardic episodes, and why she was unable to eat by mouth. Medical providers had ideas of procedures and surgeries to try. Some of the ideas we were able to discuss together and dismiss. Some of the ideas made us feel backed into a corner. No one could tell us which decision was the right decision to make.
Like all fairytales, this one has a happy ending when Charlee is released from the hospital. This book is also about the release of the birth story I had wanted and the acceptance of the unfolding circumstances we faced. I wrote a short story published in Mutha Magazine to process the trauma during that time. The graphic novel was also about releasing all of my feelings of anger, overwhelm and uncertainty. The act of making this book was about sending those feelings through my body and out onto paper. By releasing this story through publication, it is my hope the story will provide a conversation around preventing unnecessary NICU trauma, supporting families through medical crises and healing unresolved emotions.