1) Stay Connected
It’s a well-known fact that dolphins are extremely social creatures. They stay connected, roam together and positively thrive off of being together in a group, aka ‘pods’. Very rarely will you see a dolphin alone ~ there is always at least 1 other dolphin present. This is a social thing but also a survival tactic too. Through their teamwork, dolphins not only play and get their socio-emotional needs met, but it’s also where they protect one another. Members of a dolphin pod form strong bonds and have been known to play games together, help out any sick or injured dolphins within their pod as well as kill sharks they feel are threatening them. Wow, that latter one is not something that we typically associate with happy, playful dolphins but I guess that’s the power of the pod!
Likewise, we preemie and special needs parents must also stay together and connected. If you currently don’t have a ‘pod’, create your own! You really can’t go about this journey alone. We all need a little help sometimes although it’s extremely easy for us to feel like we don’t, to isolate ourselves and feel like nobody could possibly understand what we’re going/have gone through. I’ve done/felt this numerous times, both during the NICU and after the NICU especially when Alejandro was going through any type of surgery, procedure or evaluation of some sort. I felt that I was protecting myself ~ and him ~ and to some extent, I was ~ but at what cost?
While it is true that sometimes others may not understand and/or can’t support you in the way that you need or want, it’s essential that you still make an effort to connect with someone. The key to this connection though is to stay connected to the right person or people. These can be other preemie or special needs parents you’ve met/befriended along the way, your next door neighbor or anybody you choose. As long as, like dolphins, they can play with you (i.e. make you smile/laugh) but also protect you (i.e. help to keep you from harm). You don’t need anyone around you who will bring you down in any way.
2) Talk to Others
Dolphins have a unique way of communicating with one another ~ via clicks. Each click or series of clicks means something specific and different. Nobody except other dolphins knows or understands what is being said/communicated.
Just like dolphins, preemie and special needs parents also have and speak a unique language of their own ~ our special parent ‘clicks’ ~ and just like dolphins again, nobody has a clue as to what they’re talking about. Who else, except another preemie or special needs parent, would understand not only odd acronyms/sayings such as PDA, CPAP, on the spectrum, ROP, desats, IEP, NEC, CP, failure to thrive, trach, and on and on and on but also more importantly, they will also understand your feelings and struggles that comes along with it. No judgement and no need for you to explain anything ~ they get it because they’re feeling/have felt the very same thing. When I mentioned earlier to my newsletter subscribers that I’d been feeling some pressure as I’d been very slow and late with writing anything recently, I felt ok to share this with them as I knew they’d understand. They also feel the pressures of special parenting coupled with life’s demands and realize that sometimes things fall off of your radar.
When we in the NICU, I remember how very hard it was for me to explain to my family all the things that were happening with Alejandro but how easy was to chat with that other preemie mum who was sitting next to me watching her child fight for their life just like I was watching mine. It didn’t matter if our babies were experiencing different challenges. Some days, I didn’t even need to talk, she just knew. There was so much power and understanding in those silences. On the days I did talk, the conversation just flowed and it felt good to just let it all out to someone who ‘got it.’
So, I encourage you to avoid keeping your feelings bottled up inside of you. Talk to other dolphin-like parents who ‘click’ just like you do.
Trust/Use Your Senses
Dolphins have both a keen sense of hearing (i.e. echolocation) and sight (i.e. they can see clearly in and out of water) that they use to their advantage. Echolocation is when sounds bounce off of objects and allows the dolphin to know immediately where he is/where he’s going without relying too much on his sight. My son doesn’t use echolocation techniques much at the moment but a lot of people who are blind or visually impaired do. Interestingly, although dolphins actually have good visual skills, they tend to use their keener sense of hearing/echolocation more and, if need, they use both
Like dolphins, as parents we also have a strong sense of, well, just about everything. It’s called intuition or simply our ‘gut feeling’ and it tells us a lot. Unlike dolphins though, so often during our parenting journey, we don’t trust or use these ‘sensing skills’ and in turn start relying on what other people are telling us ~ their senses, not ours. Don’t do this. Trust your senses as a parent and use them to help you make informed decisions/choices to guide you to know where you are, where you need be and what you need to do for your children, your family and especially yourself.
If you feel you’ve been coming up short with connecting, talking, trusting your senses and/or are not feeling good or empowered as a special parent, I can help you with this and more. Feel free to contact me via the form below or better yet, email me at: [email protected] or ring me on: (205) 453-4865 for a 10 minute complimentary chat to see how I can best support you be the best and most empowered YOU.
Lastly, after months of starts, stops and restarts, on Monday June 1st, I will finally officially launch my Special Parents, Special Solutions Virtual Coaching Program! This program is powerful and has been created with you and your challenges as a special parent in mind and designed to help you move forward in the way that is personal and best for you and your situation. Click here to find out more:
So in preparation for next month’s launch, I will be hosting 3 FREE 30 minute Informational Calls about the program prior to its launch. You just choose which day you want to attend, register and show up (virtually) on that day with your hearts and minds open to learn about the Program and your questions ready to ask! Click here to register for one of the 3 Informational Calls: http://freeinformationalcallspecialparentsspecialsolution
I can’t wait to help you along your parenting journey in this way and look forward to hearing from and connecting with you soon!