As you may know, we’re hosting a discussion with the author of a new book, who just happens to be one of the moms in UCP’s Family Support Department!
On October 7th, Lenore Eklund will be talking about her book (Release: A NICU Fairytale), and the process of dealing with NICU trauma at our event. Register here.
We thought it would be fun to learn more about Lenore before the event. Thanks for answering our questions, Lenore!
1. How did Charlie end up in the NICU?
About 10 days before I had Charlee, we learned she had excess spinal fluid causing a lot of pressure on her brain. We had to switch gears very fast and plan a c-section delivery up at OHSU. Charlee was born 3 weeks early.
2. What was your NICU experience like?
There was so much uncertainty around 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.
3. How did you end up coming up with your book idea?
During Charlee's second neurosurgery when she was just over a year old, a support worker gave me a care package that had some colored pencils and a sketchpad. I started drawing boats rolling in waves and happy suns playing in the clouds, but I made a comic about something that was really frustrating me about the hospital and that felt really, really good to get out. That's when I started on Charlee's birth story and our story of being in the NICU.
4. What was the process of writing it like?
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. It was something I could spend hours in the evening doing after Charlee went to bed or on busy days, a couple minutes between running laundry and starting a feed.
5. What are your hopes for the book and/or the people reading it?
By releasing this story through publication, it is my hope the story will provide a conversation around preventing unnecessary NICU and hospital trauma, supporting families through medical crises and healing unresolved emotions.