Yuna, an Occupational Therapist, talks about Early Intervention with children born with delays, had a traumatic birth, etc., and why it is so important!
TES and IRL is providing this podcast and as a public service, but it is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of TES and IRL policy. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by TES and IRL. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by TES and IRL employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of TES and IRL or any of its officials. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact TES at https://www.tesidea.com/contact-us/or IRL at https://www.redesignlearning.org/contact/. Thank you for joining us for another episode of I am Abel the goal of our podcasts to bring acceptance and awareness to our communities when working with educating and living with people of all abilities.
Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome back to I am able I am Jamie Lord Tovar, and today my guest is Yuna Kim. Hi, Yuna. How are you? Pretty good. Thank you. So today we are going to talk about early in intervention. But before we get started, can you give us a little bit of background about yourself? You know, what, what is it that you do?
Yeah, sure. Yeah. So my name is Yuna. I’m an occupational therapist, I work in outpatient pediatrics and focusing mostly with early intervention. So kids zero to three years.
Okay. So okay, so that’s your connection to early intervention, then is that you’re a therapist, and you’re working with primarily, children zero to three. So. So, um, why is early intervention so important?
Or even early intervention is important. You know, like, the name says, it’s because it really, we provide services. As soon as you know, their home and out of the womb, we can provide services, you know, if they had any traumatic, like, birth history, or even a complicated pregnancy, research shows that the earlier that we start therapies and treatments, the better outcomes and prognosis that we can get. And so as soon as you know, a baby or even a child presents with any delays, or any issues in terms of their overall development, as OTs and even other therapists, we can intervene as soon as we can. And we see that outcome is a lot better when we do it this way. Okay, so early intervention, then is where you’re working with children that are 023. And they have some sort of developmental delay, is that right? So like their physical or cognitive I write normally, that’s one of the first signs that we see. And so if they present with any delays, in terms of, you know, at any point of their development, that’s usually a sign that they may need a little bit of extra help or support in that area. Another way they can get services is if we know that they had some kind of, you know, genetic or chromosomal diagnosis and such as like Down syndrome. So we know that actually from the womb now. And so services can start as soon as they’re born, and they’re medically able to as well. Oh, wow.
Okay. So their, their developmental milestones that you’re looking for, is that correct? And is that how you are able to tell if a child is is is developing at the rate that they should?
Right, right. So I think a lot of parents and other health care professionals such as pediatricians and doctors are aware of these developmental milestones and they’re just kind of like benchmarks that we look for in a child you know, at certain months or a certain age. We expect to see some of these skillsYou know, and you know, plus or minus couple of months, it doesn’t have to be exactly on that timeline. But we do want them to be reaching these milestones, because a lot of times, these are building blocks and foundations for higher levels, higher level skills that we see as they get older. And so, and we know that with babies and children, young children, there are these like sensitive periods of their development and critical periods. So if they are not meeting those skills in that moment, then it could impede their overall development and growth. And so to prevent that from happening, and to support them in that way, or the intervention can help with that.
Okay, all right. So as an occupational therapist, you, you focus on certain parts of the child’s development then correct?
Yes, yes. Yeah. So occupational therapists, we mostly focus on, you know, the everyday life skills that are needed to be successful in living. And, and that includes for all ages, not just children. Some of the areas that we look at are feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, and hygiene, things like that. But we also focus on activities that are meaningful to the child. So a lot of times that is playing, playing with toys, going to school, things like that, that children, we want them to be successful successful in. Okay, all right. So you say you, you help with things like feeding so so what kind of things do you do as an occupational therapist? Yeah, so in terms, you know, under the big umbrella of feeding, there are different, more building blocks skills, so there’s self feeding, you know, is a child able to finger feed themselves next, are they able to use spoons and forks, things like that, we also work on oral motor skills. So these are the muscles in and around the mouth, includes your lips, your cheeks, your tongue, your jaws. So we look at those skills and making sure you know, can a child chew and, and manage these textures, and different types of food that we want them to at a certain age, if they have any delays in those areas, we can help strengthen those muscles, or increase, you know, maybe some sensory awareness in those muscles. So we work on oral motor skills, we also work on any selective eating. So if a child may be sensitive to certain textures, or flavors, or they’re resisting a lot of different foods, and they’re not getting a variety of foods, and that’s impeding their overall growth physically, then we can also help them engage with foods and tolerate different textures and flavors as well. Okay, so you said engage with food? What What do you mean by that any engagement with food is any way that we can touch smell kiss, on, you know, bring near our mouth, I know, it sounds kind of weird. And for, you know, for a typically developing person, it’s kind of, you know, imply that we can do all those things. But for a child who has really severe sensitivity, they might not even be able to tolerate the room being in the same or being in the same room with the food. A lot of parents, they just presented to them, like at the same table, and, you know, they run away from the table. And all those things can, you know, point to maybe there are some sensitivities that the child may be having, in terms of tolerating the food,
okay, so sensitivities, like, they just don’t like the way that it, maybe it looks the way that it smells, I mean, not the taste. So it’s, you have all those different things that you have to deal with before you can get them to actually start to eat, is that right?
Right. Right, definitely. You know, there’s a saying, like, use, you eat with your eyes before the knot in your stomach. It’s very true, you know, like, we look at a food and, you know, for us, we want to eat food that looks and like, smells good. And that’s the same thing for a child. You know, if for some reason it doesn’t look good to them, or smell or, you know, whatever, any of those things, then, you know, they’re less likely to try it.
Okay. All right. All right. So you there’s feeding then you also said that there were some other things like so taking care of yourself as a as a child. And so what kind of things do you do for that?
Yeah, yeah, I think we think like, oh, you know, they’re just kids, you know, you know, as parents, we should be taking care of them. But you know, there’s a lot that kids can do. And without even thinking about it, they’re actually participating in these daily life skills without us even knowing. So for example, even just cooperating and dressing, right? A lot of times when we present a shirt or pants, they’ll start initiating putting their arms through the sleeves, or they’ll lift their feet up to you, indicating, you know, I can get my socks changed or shoes changed. So these are some of the skills that we look at. And, you know, for older kids, we do want them to start being more independent in these dressing skills, or in any of these life skills. So we target that as well.
Oh, okay. All right. And then, so we have like eating, having like dressing, and then. So do you help like with with toileting? Or like, anything like that?
Yeah, yeah, definitely. toileting is definitely part of, you know, those everyday life activities. And we can help with clothing management, when it comes to toileting, you know, being able to maybe unbutton or unfasten your pants and pull it down before going to the restroom. And then also putting it back on after because we don’t want to walk around with no pants on if we’re in school or in public. washing our hands, you know, and sequencing those steps, you know, what do we have to do? First, we have to turn on the water, get some soap and things like that we so all those things could be seen under toileting?
We don’t at this clinic. We don’t necessarily do actual potty training, but all those skills that are related to toileting we can work on and that just kind of differs from clinic to clinic.
Okay, so So you work? Do you work primarily at just the outpatient clinic?
Yeah, I Yeah, most of my clients are seeing at the clinic, I do sometimes do in home, depending on the need of the family. But majority of the clients are they come to the clinic to see me. Okay. All right. And so how long does a treatment? How long does it usually last? So the session is usually a whole hour, but that also includes like, you know, just having the child come in and leave, disinfecting toys in between sessions. Actual one on one treatment time can vary anywhere from like 40 to 50 minutes. And during that time, we’re providing parent education talking to the parents as well. So it could be anywhere from there.
Okay, all right. And then so how frequent, how frequent do frequently do you normally see a patient that’s like once a week, twice a week,
I really depends on the need, I would say, generally, once a week is most typical, but depending on the child’s needs, so if a child needs more services, maybe they need a little bit more support, I can see them up to twice a week, or sometimes. And this happens a lot with my babies who are born premature, we just kind of need to monitor their overall development. So they may not have maybe huge red flags at this moment, but because we know that they were premature, we want to make sure that they’re developing typically. So that can be maybe once a month or twice a month.
Oh, okay. All right. Okay, so that it can be that infrequently. It’s not necessarily a weekly thing. It could be just once or twice a month. Right. Right. So how do you how does a child get evaluated?
Yeah, I would think most of the families that I see it’s usually either the parent or a pediatrician or some kind of other health care professional, that have been observing a child’s development over time, maybe they’re the ones that kind of see, they may see some delays, or maybe a little bit difference in their development. And so the pediatrician can refer patients, their patients to the regional center, which is most difficult for early intervention, or a parent can actually reach out to the regional center on their own and request an evaluation. And so from there, the regional center will, you know, take into the concerns of the pediatrician and the parent and provide the necessary evaluations.
Okay. All right. So the regional center, like there’s different ones throughout LA County, just depending on what area you live in. Right. Right.
Right. It’s the regional center system is actually I think, specific to California. But it’s a government funded program. And it is by regions, like you said, so different counties. So there’s a regional center per like county or city. So they kind of oversee couple of cities. So depending on where you live, you can go to that regional center that is associated to your, your location, and then all the services and provided are within that regional centers like jurisdiction.
Okay. So like then the regional center, basically, once they have decided that a child needs to have intervention, then then they direct a direct services to, to a particular company, like we work for total education solutions, but the right other outpatient facilities, is that right?
Yes, exactly. All right. Cool. All right. Um, let’s see.
So, we talked a little bit about treatments, and that they can take place at home or in the clinic. So what about the, like parents and caregivers? Do? Are they usually involved in, in the treatment as well? Or how does that work?
Yeah, definitely. So our company has an open door policy. So parents can come into the session at any point at any time. And a lot of my especially for my young, younger children, most of my parents are involved in this session. And so sometimes it depends on the child’s needs, sometimes they are more observing, and then I do a lot of parent interview with them, I provide a lot of parent education as kind of a session is going on. So they’re observing a lot of things that I’m doing. And then you can know, they can ask me questions, and I can provide feedback. So my sessions, I, you know, it’s more beneficial for the parents to be more hands on. So they will be directly handling their child, and I would just kind of provide some coaching or guiding during the session. But I would say, and some of my parents like to step out, because sometimes kids act different when the parents are there. So that’s a conversation that, you know, therapists can have with the parents, and you know, if there are mutual agreement, then parents can step out, but a portion of that session is, is committed to talking with the parents. So after I see the child, you know, I’ll go talk to the parents about the session, ask any questions and things like that. So I would say parents are always involved with the session in some way or another to your right, right.
And so, with, with your clients that you typically see, what are some of the most common skills that they need help with? I mean, we talked about some feeding and toileting but, but what are the things that that you right now are seeing that, that your clients need help with?
Yeah, I would say generally, the skills that I see most, you know, in need of help is probably fine motor skills. So these are skills, using the hands and fingers, manipulating small objects, using our hands together. You know, for a child, we want them to be able to, you know, manage things, small, small items, like buttons, or zippers, you know, obviously, those have very relevant importance of our everyday activities. Also, even just grabbing utensils, and making sure they’re grabbing it, you know, appropriately so that they are most successful when they when it comes to self-feeding. So, I would say fine motor skills are kind of like the building blocks to a lot of those like, you know, self care skills, and, you know, the dressing all of that, that we’re talking about. So I would say that’s probably the number one that I see most, most often.
Okay, and so, so if a parent is involved in, like, directly involved in the those kinds of activities, what are what are some of the things that they do then?
In the session? Yeah, in a session? Yeah. So sometimes I can, maybe visual model for them and activity that can be replicated at home pretty easily. We try to use you know, really like common toys, and even sometimes just household objects, you know, you can use things like pipe cleaner, or cotton balls, or you know, anything really, like, I think OTs are so creative, we make so many activities with just everyday items. You know, I showed me I may show a parent like, Oh, this is a really good activity to work on it pincer grasp using your thumb and index finger to pick up small things. And then I might ask the parent like, Oh, can you try doing this with your child right now, you know, so I may then at that point, the parent can come in and try the activity themselves. And then once I feel like they can implement it by themselves at home, then I would definitely ask, you know, can you do this maybe like a couple of times a week so that we can work on those muscles of the hands and have them be more successful.
So it sounds like so you. You give out homework to then
yes, sometimes, you know,
you know, I, I do tell them like, you know, we only see your child maybe once or twice a week for 40 to 45-50 minutes, a lot of it happens at home, you know, a lot of child development happens at home. So, you know, me seeing them for that one hour a week, you know, obviously, it’s, it can be helpful, but it’s, it’s not going to be the most effective if those skills aren’t being transferred in the home. So I may I do ask parents, you know, could you please work on this at home, and a lot of times they are willing, because they see, oh, wow, my child can do these things. And they see, you know, this, this is really helpful to them, and they can see the progress in with their own eyes as they’re doing it at home.
Oh, that’s so awesome. Yeah. So, um, what other things? When you assign homework Do you like give out like, handouts or anything like that? You’re saying you have parent education?
Yeah, that as well, definitely. Um, either handout like physical copies of handouts, or emails, or email, parents a lot of resources, I think it can be very overwhelming the amount of information that we sometimes tell parents, and it could be a lot of information at once. And so I try to break it down a little bit. So I may send handouts like here and there. Nowadays, there’s a lot of great resources for parents just online. And so I like to print them out and give it to them. It’s really good to just have a physical copy, too. So parents can keep track of things like goals, developmental milestones, you know, what are we working on? And things like that?
Okay, okay, so, so then the parents, when you’re working with a parent, you talk about what the child’s goals are, and then you work on them from there.
Yeah, yeah, I, for me, I always tried to have parents aware of some of the goals. So goals are kind of like, we make maybe three to four goals for every, like six months that we see a child so that we kind of have these like benchmarks like to track and monitor progress. Obviously, there’s so many more things that we can work on. But narrowing it down to a couple of goals helps us track progress, but also know what’s most important for the parent. So I will a lot of times ask the parents, you know, what are you guys having with trouble at home? And how can we shape the goals so that it’s, it’s relevant to you guys? Because sometimes, you know, managing buttons may not be the first priority for a parent, it might be more feeding, or, you know, yeah, they can’t do buttons, but they also can’t even just put on some shorts, you know, so making sure that it’s relevant and helping families I think, so that goal making really helps with that. Okay, so the family is totally involved in, in the goal making. So if there’s a goal that you think that might be appropriate, and the parents say, No, I don’t want to work on that, then that’s something you’re not going to work on, or it’s going to be low priority. Right? Exactly. Yeah. So we try to collaborate together. If I, if there’s ever a situation where I feel like it’s really important, but maybe parents may not be aware, then I try to also help them kind of see big picture, right. So, you know, like, you may not see the importance now, but this is actually a building block in the foundational skill for something in the future. So we really want to make sure that they get this right now. And so sometimes when they shape it that way, then they can kind of see like, Oh, you’re right, you know, like, we do want them to be able to manage their clothes when they go to school, right. So right now, a lot of kids at this age are staying home. So managing pants and stuff may not be a priority, but in one to two years, they’re going to be in daycare or preschool. And a lot of Preschools don’t allow you to bring children if they’re not potty train so those are the kind of things that I tried to let them know and then you know, obviously if they’re still not like oh, you know, we can wait and I’m like okay, you know, we can always reevaluate goals later so put it on hold for now, but we do try to step in that way as well.
So typically went save you have like a two-year-old child that that comes to the clinic. Do you do typically then provide services for them for like an entire year? Or? Or is it like six months in the reevaluate where?
Yeah, so typically when we first receive an authorization from the regional center, they usually authorized for up to To the year, or up to their third birthday, whichever comes first. And so for regional center clients, they only see kids up to three years, at least for the regional center that we’re servicing at this company. I know with some other regional centers, there might be different ages. But yeah, so up to three years. So we usually see them for about a year, and then after a year, we reevaluate. And if there’s still a need, then we asked a regional center to extend the services to up to their three, or if we feel like they’re doing really well, we can also decrease services, maybe they might just need some monitoring once a month, just to make sure that they’re, they’re continuing to stay on track, or we can terminate services completely. If parent feel if parents feel comfortable. And if the therapist feels like, Oh, they’ve met all their goals. You know, other skills are age appropriate now.
Okay. All right. Cool. Nice. All right. So let’s do I think you answered a lot of my questions. Another one that I was really interested in finding out is, do you have advice for parents who feel like their child is not developing as quickly as they should?
Yeah, I would say, you know, I really think that parents should trust their instincts. You know, no matter if this is your first child, or your third or fourth child, you know, if you ever feel like something is off, or different, I would, I would just go seek medical professional, as soon as you can, you know, just at least bring it up to the pediatrician. It’s it, you know, there’s no harm in getting evaluated, they may be evaluated, and it may not, it may not be nothing, you know, but at least now you have that peace of mind. But if they do get evaluated, and there are issues, and we can start intervention right away, and, and just thinking long term, that’s gonna be that’s going to have the best outcome for your child. So the earlier they can get services, the earlier they can get some support, not just for the child, but for the parents and for their family as a whole. You know, we really, I think in early intervention, especially, we provide a lot of family centered therapy. So we’re not just taking into consideration your child, but your whole fat, your family as a whole unit, you know, what’s going to help you guys as parents, so I would say seek help. And if you need help, you know, just ask those around you, you can do a lot of Google searches, go contact your local regional center, they’re everywhere. So an any parent can refer themselves, they do not need to be referred by a pediatrician. Yeah, any parent can just call Regional Center and request an evaluation. So I would say I would just advocate for parents to do that
So you so parent, parents advocating for their child is probably like the one of the most important things in early intervention, then? Yes, yes. Agreed? Yes. All right Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our listeners? Um, anything that we didn’t cover?
I would just say, thank you for this opportunity to talk about early intervention, because I feel, you know, especially to those people around me, when I tell them that I work with kids, zero to three years, they’re often very confused, like, why do they need occupational therapy? Are they too young? You know, I get a lot of those questions. But hopefully, this podcast and some of the information and questions that we answered can help, you know, have some answers to those some of those questions. And early intervention is really important. And I feel like we’re usually the first ones to really talk with parents and and we’re usually the first like their first stop. So yeah, thank you for letting me talk about it.
First, my pleasure. Yeah. I mean, you don’t you don’t really think of you know, we all have at least an occupational therapy. We say that everyone has an occupation that we all have something that we have to do. And as a child, it’s to learn and to have fun, right to play and explore, to prepare us for be adults. Right. Exactly. Yeah.
Right. Well, I want to thank you once again, for agreeing to talk to me today. And I want to thank all of our listeners for listening to our podcast. And we want to make sure that you guys all follow us on our journey as we bring awareness and acceptance to the community. About people of all abilities and we also would like you to check out our I am able podcast at www.iamablepodcast.com where you can listen to us on your favorite streaming platform. So thanks again Yuna for taking the time to talk with me. Thank you everybody out there for listening, and we will talk again next time. Have a great day.
Host Speaker 0:24
Thank you for joining us for another episode of I am Able. The goal of our podcast is to bring acceptance and awareness to our communities when working with educating and living with people of all abilities. Our disclaimer, TES, and IRL is providing this podcast as a public service but is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of IRL or TES policy. reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Te ES or IRL. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. views and opinions expressed by TES or IRL employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of TES or IRL or any of its officials. If you have any questions about this claimer, please contact TES @www.tesidea.com/contact. Us or IRL at www.redesignlearning.org/contact.
Hello everybody. And welcome back to I am Abel. I’m Jamie Lord Tovar. And today with me is Asia. Hi Asia.
Hey, how are you?
I’m good. How about yourself?
I am good. Thank you.
So we were we’ve been talking, I interviewed a occupational therapist a couple weeks ago who works at a NICU. And so we thought it might be good to also hear the parent perspective. So can you tell me what led to the premature birth of your child?
To be honest, it was actually undiagnosed. They tested my placenta but we’re not able, they weren’t able to find an actual diagnosis of why I had a premature baby. But I do remember about two weeks prior to getting a food poisoning. And I went to the hospital because I no longer felt that everything was going correctly. And they said I was fine. But my cervix was thinner. So um, if I can, if I can put my finger on it, it was probably from the food poisoning because my daughter was born with ecoli. So Wow. So I have a strong, like a strong feeling that it was it was due to that.
Okay. So so what did they do for your daughter then
for the E. coli while she was she was treated with so many antibiotics, and they just, you know, kept a close eye on her and made sure that the infection was going down and just basically monitor monitored her completely.
So that sounds pretty scary. So so that was during the time that that she was in the NICU then and the neonatal unit intensive.
Okay. And so can you kind of describe what being in the NICU was like,
being in the NICU? It’s so scary. It’s, it’s completely unpredictable. You just never know where you’re gonna get when you have a baby. And it’s a premature baby. The nurses automatically tell you the new you life is a roller coaster. You just never know. Your baby can be doing great one day and then the next day, they’re declining. And then the next day that they’re doing great again, you it’s such a it’s such a scary place. Just like even the facility itself is so scary. You have these tiny little babies and it it’s like nerve racking. I don’t even know how to like it’s so hard to even describe, but it’s scary. It’s so scary. And even though you have all these people It feels so lonely sometimes to
Yeah, I can imagine you kind of feel like you’re the only one even though you’re around people.
Definitely. Definitely. Yeah, it’s scary. You know? There’s no better way to describe it than scary I think scary, though word that’d be belong to that.
So how So how was the unit set up? Is it just like a big room with a bunch of incubators? or
so the way that the the hospital that my daughter was born that it has its stages. So it has a couple of different rooms and you have the micro preemies and then you have things that are ready to go home and you had the premiums that are like, right in between. So my daughter was a micro preemie. So when she was born, she was a tiny baby. So she was in the room with the smallest of the smallest babies. So that room had about, I want to say about six kids. And they’re all in the incubator, and it’s a really quiet room. dark, quiet room. But yeah, they’re all they’re all together in the same room, and an open space.
So then, so when you’re there with with other parents, you’re, you’re right there with other parents.
Yeah, and then it’s like, I mean, you have your parents like, separate and divide you but overall, y’all, y’all together.
So you said your daughter was a micro preemie. How early was she?
She was 17 weeks early. She was born at 25 weeks. Wow. Yes.
So how big was she then? When she was born early?
10. Tiny she was one pound. 12 ounces. Oh, she she fit in my arm? Like if I can hold up my hand. She fit in my hand. Oh, wow. Yeah. Tiny.
It’s so good to get to like hold her right away.
No, I actually had to wait 20 days to hold her. I was not able to hold her. When I delivered her. They put her in the incubator right away. So I was only able to see her through a glass. Like a glass box. Oh, yeah.
Wow, that must have been really tough.
It was extremely tough. Emma was actually sorry, she was a twin. So we also had a son who was born, but he was born 17 days prior to her. Oh, wow. Yes. So I mean, unfortunately, his you know, he wasn’t able to survive, but yeah, I mean, tiny little baby. It’s incredible. It’s incredible.
I’m so sorry to hear that about about your son. But your your daughter is is doing great, right?
She’s doing amazing. Amazing. She is a little warrior. Definitely. Definitely. She gives she gives me gray hair for sure.
So So how old is she now then?
She is two years old. Oh, she’s definitely hitting those terrible twos. She’s in the mic stage. So everything’s about her and she can do everything on her own. According to herself.
Yep, that sounds like terrible twos to me,
my daughter. Everything you can think of. That’s, that’s my daughter.
Well, that’s good. You have that at least now. Now you have other things to worry about that she’s wants to be so independent.
That’s definitely you go from NICU to what is in your mouth? Every day all day?
No, you have no time to rest?
I definitely don’t I wish I did. But no, it’s it’s incredible. It’s incredible. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. That’s awesome.
That’s awesome. So won’t get back to being in the NICU. So what kind of therapists Did you work with there? Did you work with like an occupational therapist or physical?
There? I did not. She was just in the NICU. Oh, I did do Noida to occupational therapy. And she didn’t do much of it. It was towards the end of her stay. She did physical therapy. She still went home with an occupational therapist as a physical therapist.
Okay. Okay. So I with occupational therapy, a lot of times in the NICU, it’s more of working with the parents and and doing some education and stuff like that. Is that kind of what
Yes, it’s more it’s more of a science and within the baby itself. So they kind of teach you little things that kind of help you when you go home and when you’re you know, when you discharge from the hospital. Right.
So what what was like the, the thing that you were like, like the most surprised about like the occupational therapist, like any suggestions where you’re like, oh, wow, that was like, I would have never thought of that or did you have any like aha moments with?
I think it just like they teach you a lot about like this Let’s just say something small, like feeding correct. And so things that like, if your baby’s not eating correctly, just even repositioning the baby can help you, you know, get the baby to eat more, or, you know, like, those are moments that you’re just like you wouldn’t know as a parent, especially as a new parent, that if you maybe you lay your baby to the side and feed him or her that they will take more milk. And you don’t know that. So it’s just like, the occupational therapist shows you things that are like, they’re helpful, and they’re necessary. And we don’t get taught that anywhere else. Okay, all right. So I think that would probably have been like the best because she was struggling a little bit with food. Oh, yeah. So that was a moment that I was like, okay, I can do this.
Give you a little bit of confidence and, and helping your daughter.
Yeah, I’ve been shunned more than anything, I think.
So what? So while you were in the hospital, who did you turn to, for support outside of like medical professionals,
I would think that my parents, my sibling, my sister, my husband at the time, so I think that him and my best friend, I think your inner circle is probably your, your biggest support. So you being able to rely on people that you’re close to, I think it’s extremely helpful. It’s extremely helpful. So I think my my closest family and like my best friend, was, were the people that no matter what I can call that whatever time and we would be able to, like, help me with any situation that I needed. And not just that, like if I was like tired, or I was not feeling well, they would be the ones to go and help me feed my daughter. Like her feeding so so they were very helpful.
Have to also do like, where you have the baby on your skin? And did you have to do a lot of that therapy.
We did a lot of kangaroo time. At the beginning, my daughter was very sensitive. So it wasn’t until maybe she had already hit maybe like six weeks that we were able to start doing that. I heard dad would be the one that would do the most of the kangaroo time. Um, you know, they recommend the man to do it because they built a bond with with their dad. But for the most part, it would be him that would do the kangaroo but every once in a while we’ll sneak in and steal it from him. Definitely.
So you didn’t have to You didn’t have to ask any of your other family members or anything to help you guys with that part. That part?
No, I think for the most part, we were there when they need to be. She didn’t start getting held by my mom. Probably. Too later. I think at the beginning they were only allowing parents. Okay.
Oh, yeah. Okay. So Did did you have to use any specialized equipment or anything?
Fortunately for us, we didn’t she just had well, she had the breathing machine. Okay. She has a breathing machine. She had the chief tip of the nose. But I personally did a half to learn to use them. They were completely used by the doctors and the nurses. So I didn’t technically have to learn to use them. But she was on. She was on the machines for a pretty long time.
But then when you when she when she went home you didn’t have
lucky for us. She came home with absolutely no equipment. She came home ready to come home.
Nice. So yeah, I’m sorry.
That is, which was good. Because yeah, because they, for the longest time they were saying that she was gonna come home with on oxygen, but she was like, Look, I’m not coming home and oxygen. Wow. Yeah. She’s a little worried, too. Super. Cool.
So how long was she in the in the NICU?
She was there about 131 days for about four months Sunday. So she was there for quite a while.
Wow. So basically, like the entire time that she needed to be full term, right?
Correct. So she was she was actually there longer. She was there about three weeks longer than head to date. Okay. So yeah, she she was there for a long time.
You must be ready to never see another hospital.
I’m ready to like never, never another incubator again,
Oh, my gosh, no. Yeah, it’s traumatizing. It’s, it’s traumatizing.
I can imagine. Yeah. I mean, I’ve never been through that. I’ve only heard other people’s experiences. So it’s, it’s got to be really tough to go through it.
It’s tough, but you know it, it makes you a stronger person. For sure. Like, you learned so much from from being in the situation that you were in? Yeah.
So, so now she does she, does your daughter have services now?
She just had the occupational therapy and physical therapy. And she has it once a week. And she enjoys every single second of it.
Yeah. So yeah. Like, make sure you’re hitting your mouth, you’re developing
sadly. So they help with milestones as you should be leading. Or if she they see that she’s a little bit delayed in anything, they’ll work on that with her. And they, you know, they give her the time that she needs to be able to succeed.
I’m very thankful for them.
So what advice or information do you would you like to give to families? who are experiencing what you experienced being in a NICU? Do you have any advice?
I think that there’s so many things that you can advise parents, because it’s so scary when you go in. But I think more than anything, I think it’s learning to trust the people around you, the professionals around you, learning that they know what’s best for your child, because sometimes we we become overbearing on our own kids, we don’t allow them to do their job. And I think that learning to just trust them. And then learning to trust your your baby and understanding that your baby is strong and understanding that they they the baby, I don’t think that we have enough credit. Because it’s like, we’re like they’re tiny, they don’t know what to do, but they know exactly what to doing. And he’s professionals that are amazing too. And to trust the process, to trust that you that they will get to where they need to more than anything, don’t compare your kid to another baby, because your baby is going at its own pace. And you can’t be like, Oh, well, that baby’s going home and my baby’s not because your baby will go home when they’re ready. And I think it is so important just to just to trust trust, I think trust is the more the most important thing. And even such thing as like taking a break if you need it and trusting that your partner or that a family member will step in and help you when they need to, or taking breaks or, you know, it’s like, closest to something simple as learning to be friend because your family sometimes ask questions that you’re that you don’t want to answer or that you’re not. You’re not sure how to answer because you don’t have the answer. Or let’s see an example. When is your baby coming home. Because we never know, your baby can be scheduled to come home in a week. And in a week. They’re like your baby’s not ready. So learning to be firm. With your with your supporting team. I think it’s so important. I think taking the rest, take time to recover both physically and mentally because it’s exhausting. If you don’t rest, you’re not going to be 100% for your baby. So I think it’s so important just to take a step back, take a breath and then just know that everything’s gonna be okay. I think that’s the most important. That’s really good advice.
That’s really good advice.
Yeah. I think yeah, I mean, you know, like we forget as parents that like, it’s okay to need other people to help us.
Right, right. Yeah. I mean, you know, we all need supportive other people. It’s just been able to, to, to tell other people that that you
exactly, take the professional help. Definitely, whether it’s therapist, for you or for your baby, just let them help you.
Know, and So that kind of kind of answers my question about how others can be more supportive of families. But do you have any other suggestions about how others can be more supportive of families?
And I think, yeah, I think learning how to approach a parent in the NICU is essential. I think sometimes we need to stop asking questions that, like they said that the parent doesn’t have the answer to and learning when you’re, you know, learning to be supportive rather than curious, I want to see, because sometimes you as a person, you want to be curious, but it’s overwhelming on the parent. So learning, I think learning how to ask certain questions, learning how to approach a parent, because it’s very easy to say, When is your kid come home, and you don’t understand how the parent feels because the parent doesn’t know. And they’re struggling every day to get their baby home. So learning to not be overbearing is so important. Learning to be supportive. is another thing like learning learning how to help learning how to help, that’s the best way to put it. Yeah. It’s important, it’s important because as a support team, you need to be there for the parent and for the baby.
So what are some of the questions that people asked you that you were just like? I don’t know how I mean, I don’t want it. I didn’t want that question. asked. You know,
I think, yeah, I think for the longest time, I just shut down everyone. And they said, I am not seeing any calls any text. I am shutting down all access to everyone outside because the questions were overwhelming. The first question that was the hardest on me was, When is the baby coming home? When is it? I don’t know? I’m sorry. I don’t know. Why is your baby not eating correctly? Why is your baby not eating what it’s supposed to? Those are tough questions. But then come the parents who’ve never had a baby in the NICU with Have you tried doing this? Have you tried doing that? And then you’re like, Have you ever had a baby in the NICU? It’s not, it’s not that easy. It’s not like I can just be like, Look, my kid is a healthy 10 pound baby, and I’m gonna put the bottle in the mouth, and they’re gonna automatically know how to do that. So I think like, those questions, and those that advice, it’s hard when you haven’t been in that situation. So definitely The when is your baby coming home? Was my top my top pet peeve?
Yeah, I can imagine. So that’s like, questions you want to ask like, the parents like support group, right? Like, yeah, we want to ask annoying questions like, like, tell us to ask asks somebody else in the family minute.
Like, um, I don’t ask anyone. The baby, the baby will be the one who tell you, they will tell you, but I didn’t know when you’re ready.
I’m not going to tell the baby when she’s ready. She’s gonna stop me. And it’s true. Because literally from one day to the other. I was like, they’re like, go home and prepare everything because you babies coming home? And I’m like, what? So we really have no estimated date at all?
If we can deviate from those questions, it would be amazing.
So what if you do you have any advice for what people could do? Because you know, people always want to be helpful. And like so if, if you know that a parent is going through having a baby in the NICU? Do you have any advice for like, maybe things they could do besides ask questions about how
Halloween I definitely felt like let’s just say I’m going to use an example my best friend, she was probably the most helpful without being like a helicopter, best friend. She was more like, helpful in different ways. So she would come over, she would like help me build the crib. She would ask me if I’m tired that she would go and do the cares for the baby which occur means I change the diaper to the temperature. She would offer that she would offer things that were helpful for me to do here at home that I wasn’t able to do here because I was always so busy in the NICU. And so she would just, you know, like little things like, go to the store and buy baby clothes or, you know, things that the baby needed when she was going to come home, such as the car seat or installing the car seat for me. Because your time as a parent in the NICU, you’re the most of the time are you spending is in the NICU. So anyone that can help you around, because a lot of the time we’re not prepared, especially if they’re Michael premies. Like, we’re not prepared with things because we’re not expected to deliver so soon. So if you guys can help as a support helping with things around the house, it’s more than it’s more, it’s like, it’s so helpful. And we don’t think about that, because we think automatically, baby, but no, the parents need the most help. Because the baby’s being taken care of by professionals. Right. Okay. I think that’s probably the best thing.
Cool. All right. Yeah. Cuz I mean, people want to know, you know, it’s like, you want to be helpful. You. And so that’s, that’s great. But
yes, I think definitely help the parents because there the ones falling apart!
The honey do list and clear it off.
Okay. Definitely. Yes. Yes.
Right. Well, let’s, I think we went through all of the questions that I had, is there anything else that you wanted to type?
I think I think you know, just take a breath. If your babies in the NICU, just take a deep breath, and no, no, no, your baby’s stronger than you think. And that they are all true warriors. And they fight every day for their own life. So just give them the credit that they deserve. Because even though they’re a pound, two pounds, they’re amazing. And they have so much power in that little body that we fail to give them credit for.
Yeah. They’re so tiny. They’re growing so fast. I mean, you know, they’re, they’re like little mini superheroes.
They are definitely superheroes. They look so fragile, but they’re anything but that’s. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I think that’s that’s the majority of it. Just, you know, trust the process.
Okay. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today and giving those of us who do not have children or aren’t really sure how to help our friends and and relatives who may be going through the same thing.
Yeah, thanks. Thank you so much for having me. I definitely appreciate it.
I’m so glad to hear that your daughter is doing so. Well.
You think she’s doing well. She is definitely a monster.
In a good way.
Though she’s a superhero.
Yeah. She is definitely a little superhero. She is. She’s incredible. She’s incredible. They are tough, because he’s like, they are tough. They come out here and they’re like, ready to like, conquer the world.
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, hey, they’ve they’ve had quite from the time but you know, they were born so
definitely, yes. They they truly are. Troopers. Thank you again. I appreciate it. Much.
Thank you have a good one. You too.
Take care. Thank you. You too. Bye bye.