My friend's baby was/is sick...what do I say? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-15-2005, 12:13 PM
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My friend had a baby over a month ago. Horribly, the baby contracted meningitis during the hospital stay (neither parent has it, so the doctors think it was transfered from another patient or nurse). Poor baby was in the ICU for weeks, but is home now and finally back up to her birth weight.

Thing is, the doctors said they won't know until she's about 6 months old whether or not she has brain damage from the high fever/illness.

My friend is happy to have her baby back home and alive. But I know that if this were my baby, I'd be freaking out and worried that my beautiful little girl isn't "normal" and won't have the life I envisioned her having the first week after she was born, while I had her at home pre-fever. I mean, I'm not talking about becoming a ballerina or the first female president--I'm talking about being able to read and walk! When I talk to her, do I act/talk as though everything will be fine? Do I avoid at all costs bringing up any "possible brain damage" talks? If she brings them up, do I tell her everything will be fine, even though I'm super worried too?

I know she's not my baby, but this is my good friend. Is this the 'elephant in the middle of the room' or something to actually discuss with her?
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#2 Old 09-15-2005, 12:27 PM
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I woudn't say, "everything will be fine" or bring up the brain damage, either. I'd just say something like, "I'm sure this is really stressful for you, let me know if you ever need to talk." or, "I want you to know I'm thinking of your family and hoping/praying that everything turns out fine."

It will be implied that you are concerned about possible brain damage. But after you've said that, I'd wait for her to bring it up before talking about it. Maybe invite her to do something fun to get her mind off of it since there is nothing she can do but wait.
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#3 Old 09-15-2005, 01:32 PM
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first, i would celebrate with her that her baby is well and healthy enough to be home. this is cause for celebration and you should be happy with her.

second, i would not be surprised if she is as worried as you are, if not moreso, about her child's health. if she even mentions it, offer your support in whatever capacity that she needs. A simple--whatever you need, i'll be there for you as best i can--will suffice.

third, if you get into longer discussions about treatment options and what not, may i recommend that you share information about this amazing treatment facility? The Family Hope Center is an AMAZING organization that helps heal brain injuries and defects, usually non-medically (even though it's run by neurologists!). people come from all over the world to heal their children and themselves. i have seen babies go from blind, deaf, and non-moving and most doctors saying that there is no hope for a normal life, to them being sighted, hearing, speaking, walking, and working at grade level.

this process works! there is hope, even if the little one is injured. Please, keep the Family Hope Center in mind.
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#4 Old 09-16-2005, 11:39 AM
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My mom had menegitis when she was young and did end up having brain damage, but it did not affect her mentally, only physically. Be there for your friend and do not scare her. I would probably wait for her to talk about it and then calm her fears, even if there is a possibility of brain damage.
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#5 Old 04-08-2006, 12:56 AM
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I agree w/what others have said.

My best advice would be to not bring anything up to her(i'm sure anything that anybody could possibly bring up to her she's already thought about a million times), wait for her to bring anything up, and I'd stay away from trying to give any personal advice or personal opinions/thoughts. Just listen to what she has to say, and be supportive of whatever that may be. For example, if she were to say something like "..what if she ends up w/brain damage? what will i do then?..." I wouldn't feel obligated to try and give her an anser or to make her feel better necessarily, maybe just respond w/something like what Thalia said ("I'm sure this is really stressful for you, let me know if you ever need to talk." or, "I want you to know I'm thinking of your family and hoping/praying that everything turns out fine.") Just let her know that you're always there for her & will lend an open ear whenever she needs to talk.

Regardless of the outcome, I think what's best is that she knows she's got a shoulder to lean on. Right now, the not knowing part is probably the worse, but I'm sure whatever happens she'll be able to handle it especially w/the help of you & her other friends and family.

Also, I think it's great that you care so much. That says a lot right there. Keep caring (as i'm sure you will) & she's lucky to have a friend like you! Good luck w/it all. Keep us updated.
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#6 Old 04-08-2006, 04:48 AM
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The way I handle it with family/friends in these types of situations (usually cancer) is that when I first talk to them after being diagnosed, is to lay it out from the get go. I acknowledge their condition, offer my condolences that they are going through such a hard time and then tell them that however they decide to handle it, whether it be talking about it openly or not talking about it all, is totally up to them. It's their time, it's not about how I or anyone else feels about the situation, but it's how they feel about it. There is no right or wrong way to deal with it. This usually puts them at ease so they don't have to worry that if they choose not to discuss it, that I might be offended or feel badly. Perhaps this could work in your situation as well. I think implementing what everyone else said here and telling your friend that whatever she needs to deal with the situation is fine by you, whether that be talking about it openly or not. I remember when my cousin was first diagnosed with breast cancer, after the first week she was like, I would just like to have a conversation with someone and not have it be about breast cancer! She found herself having to go over it again and again every time someone new would call. So after that, we talked about some other fun stuff. Then I would just check in with her once every week or so and she would give me an update. I'm sure you will work out the best way to be a good support system to your friend!

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#7 Old 04-08-2006, 05:35 AM
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i would say "i'm sure this is hard for you, but i'm here to be an ear or a shoulder to cry on if you ever need me to"

and i would take over some sort of dinnertime food, and diapers. trust me. diapers and baby wipes are always appreciated.
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#8 Old 04-08-2006, 08:03 AM
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I'm sure the concerns about the future for her daughter are with her every minute of every day, and she's just happy that she's still alive and has her home. Just tell her you're happy that she's home as well, and if she needs anything, even just someone to talk to, to let you know because you're there for her.
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#9 Old 04-08-2006, 08:54 AM
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We have friends at church who's daughter had a stroke at birth. Brain damage, though not a given, was a possibility. I thought about this some...what you are talking about. And then I settled down and realized that in the context of our community and of the child's family, this child...who may or may not be 'normal'...will always be known as herself...and loved for herself. That's all you really need. It turned out that this baby has developed on schedule for the most part, and is now toddling and running about the nursery at the church.

The truth is none of us know. Anything can happen. You love your friend and her them where they are. No distancing yourself...or pitying. Just honest love. That's all.

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#10 Old 04-08-2006, 08:57 AM
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Let her bring up conversations about brain damage or worries she has...and instead of trying to gloss over worries, just tell her you're there for her....mostly people need a person to listen when they go through something like this...not to tell them how to feel, or that everything will be okay...just to listen supportively.

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#11 Old 04-08-2006, 09:24 AM
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This thread is 7 months old..are there any updates?

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#12 Old 04-08-2006, 11:44 AM
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how'd it get to the top of the board? That's funny. Updates...
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#13 Old 04-11-2006, 05:22 PM
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Baby girl DOES have brain damage. Hard to say how much at this point, but she has an intense 'startle' reflex so you have to be very careful when approaching her or turning on appliances (she'll get really freaked out). She's currently learning to bring her fingers to her mouth and stubbornly refuses her mother's attempts to actually put her thumb in her mouth for her---she's trying to do it on her own and won't accept help, even though she can't quite get it yet.

So, over all, yes there's been brain damage and it's affecting her physical development. Because of the slow physcial development, it's hard to say what her mental development is so far (still so young). But the family is doing well overall. Papa stays home with her with Mom works, so no need for a special daycare center yet.

Honestly, I don't talk to my friend very often--she's so busy juggling work and s/o and baby. But seems to be mostly positive. I really appreciate everyone's encouraging words in this thread! This is such a difficult situation for me, even though it's not my baby, and it's nice to hear that just letting my friend know that she can talk to me is enough at this point. Thanks, all.
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#14 Old 04-11-2006, 10:25 PM
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Thanks for the update! It sounds like things are tough, but they're learning to adapt.

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#15 Old 04-12-2006, 10:04 AM
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The good thing about early brain damage is that often (not always, but often) the brain will "re-wire" itself so that skills will be learned, even if they're learned more slowly than other children learn them. My nephew was born at 23 1/2 weeks, and they've since learned he had a stroke in utero - he's simply missing his left cerebellum, which was destroyed by that stroke. At 5, he walks, talks, runs, roughhouses with his little brother, sings, and is learning to read. His gross motor skills are not as developed as others his age, and his muscle tone is much weaker, but he's doing quite well. I love to brag about him, but we basically have gone from considering him a miracle baby to a normal boy. Hopefully in 5 years, your friends will have a similar success story.
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#16 Old 04-12-2006, 11:37 AM
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My mom had menengitis when she was a teenager and everyone thought she was going to die. But, thank God she didn't!
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