Inside the NICU

NICU glossary: family edition

I was talking with some preemie parent friends about NICU glossaries, and how they are filled with clinical and technical terms. Important, for sure. We started joking around about other terms that we had encountered or had made up ourselves. Terms like …

  • Spell-bound: when your baby decides to prolong her stay in the hospital by having one inexplicable spell every 6 days.
  • Social worker sob: a sob so big or a crying jag so long that you know you’re going to get a visit from the social worker. [Let’s be clear … we LOVE our social workers!]
  • Head tilt of sympathy: when anyone is trying to comfort you, this is the angle they hold their head at. Usually accompanied by a soothing head nod.
  • Toaster head: a term a nurse shared with us. The long, narrow head preemies can get. Sample use: “Have you been using your butterfly pillow? Your daughter’s grown out of her toaster head!”
  • Easter bonnet:  The CPAP (also known as C-CRAP) head and bonnet. One dad said their son’s RT used to sing, “In your Easter Bonnet, with all the crap upon it.”
  • Baby shower: Not the regular kind … the kind you get when your refluxy baby vomits all over you.
  • Lasagna of support: What your neighbours drop off on your front porch. One of my friends had 27 of them in her freezer by the end of their stay. I personally am still off lasagna (though grateful! Always grateful!)
  • Wireless or cordless babies: this one’s pretty obvious. What you get on that wonderful day when your baby comes off all the wires and monitors! See also “cutting the cord” – some of our dads do this when their baby doesn’t need the monitor any more. They actually cut through the old wires with scissors!  A very nice moment.

Do you have any similar kind of terms?  It’s kind of nice to have this secret language that you know only other preemie parents or NICU staff members would really understand.

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Kate Robson