I know it seems as if I been on a blog-a-palooza here lately, what with the visits to Santa, Crappy Lung Syndrome and all. I cannot help but add yet another post this week.
I am sure three-quarters of American households have tuned into TLC, "The Learning Channel" at some point in the past few years. TLC currently has a reality show that I believe started out with the title "16 and Counting" and progressed to "18 and Counting," as Michelle Duggar, the matriarch of the clan, had ever more children. The title can now officially be called "19 and Counting" since Mrs. Duggar has now given birth to her 19th child.
This child however was born at 25 or 26 weeks (depending upon who does the math) and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. Your basic "Eliza-size." I am sure it was not the birth that TLC was hoping for.
The Duggar family spokesperson reported that:
Josie Brooklyn Duggar checked in at 6:27 p.m. She weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces and was reported to be resting in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. A family spokesman told People magazine that the infant was expected to be fine.
The TLC spokesperson said:
“The most important thing right now is for mom and baby Josie to get as much rest as possible,” a TLC spokesman said in a statement issued to People.
You can read all about it here.
For those of you not familiar with a Level III NICU (and I do so wish you never have to become acquainted with one) there is nothing "restful" about it.
The baby is not "resting" in the NICU as one would rest after say a long hard day of work or some minor out patient surgery.
The baby likely:
1. is on some form of mechanical ventilation
2. is under Billi lights
3. is attached to a pulse oximeter
4. is on TPN for nutrition
5. has multiple umbilical lines (a/k/a IVs in her belly button)
6. is receiving almost no human touch because her skin is so fragile
7. has a PICC line
8. is on a multitude of medications that you will likely never need
9. has a half dozen or more heel sticks a day for blood gas studies
11. is in an isolette which is as loud as a wind tunnel
12. needs external heat and humidity since she cannot maintain her body temperature
13. has 14 to 20 invasive and painful procedures a day
... dare I go on. Does any of this sound "RESTFUL?"
This baby is at risk for:
If the family spokesperson and the TLC representative cannot translate this alphabet soup of extreme prematurity then they should not report that the baby is "resting" and will be "fine." It is beyond disingenuous to report that this baby will be "fine" when the baby has not even survived its first few days in the NICU.
It is irresponsible. It is dismissive of the struggle to live that Eliza and every other micropreemie goes through each and every day.
I have no particular gripe with the Duggars. They have chosen to live their lives in the public eye with cameras in their home (in exchange for a hefty paycheck) not unlike many other reality TV families. Do I think this is they way children should grow up? No. But it is their choice.
However, having made their choice to live in the public eye and hold their family out as an example to society, then they have the moral responsibility to accurately report what the life of a 25 or 26 weeker is like and not to gloss over the bleak moments and the moments of pain and despair that every parent of every micro preemie experiences. They have a responsibility to not diminish the struggle to survive each and every minute that every micropreemie struggles with each and every day.
So Duggars, you have my empathy and I do wish for your sakes you had not joined this club.
Because you have joined this elite club of micropreemie parents and live your lives in the public eye, you have a responsibility to accurately report the life of your child.
Oh and to the TLC spokesperson ... do your homework before reporting about that which you do not know.