When I heard that the mother had said that, I just had to shake my head a little bit. How is it that parents can be so mistaken about what we told them? Sure, we told them their baby would likely be on the ventilator for a long time, but never come off? I know we didn't say that.
The mother was talking to our NICU's nurse manager. She was the mother of the baby whose arm had broken (see my previous post) and in the course of a long chat with the manager was getting some things off her chest. She also was a little miffed and confused because of how we had explained the cause of the baby's yeast infection to her. I had told her about the baby's prematurity and poor defenses secondary to that. My partner had mentioned that antibiotics can contribute to it (which is commonly thought to be true but recent evidence suggests it might not be). The mother saw these as contradictory rather than complementary explanations.
I can see to some degree how mother could be confused by that, although I'm sure our explanations included more than those two elements, but I really don't understand where she got the idea about her baby never coming off the ventilator. Was that her own fears changing her words as she processed them? As she got farther and farther away from being told the baby would be on the ventilator for a long time, did her memory fade and change "a long time" to "never"?
It's actually a fairly common occurrence, parents saying we said something we never did. I don't think it's malicious or intentional on their part. It's probably just another thing we can attribute to the stress people have when their baby is in an NICU. (Although I think there are some parents who unconsciously, or sometimes consciously, embellish their baby's story, perhaps to make it more dramatic. The number of times I've heard a parent say of a school aged child "They said he would never walk or talk" far outnumbers, exponentially outnumbers, the number of times I have actually said it.)
We'll just keep plugging away. I try to tell myself it doesn't bother me anymore when parents claim I said something I didn't, because I understand it and can rationalize it - but I really don't like lying to myself.