MONIQUE BATSON — Local news is more important than ever

Published 12:04 am Friday, November 19, 2021

“Support local journalism.”

It’s something we in the business say often, yet something so few people understand.

Most times they hear “we need your money” or “please help keep our business alive.”

To some, it sounds selfish.

But the truth is, we’ve only ever been here for you.

It’s no secret that small media companies have been hiking uphill for the last decade, adapting the way news is packaged or presented to compete with the evolvement of the internet.

But what happens when the road ends?

Earlier this week we told you about the Medical Center of Southeast Texas receiving a Level III NICU designation.

And if it didn’t directly relate to you, there’s a chance you passed it up.

I might have, too, in 2005 when expecting my first biological child. All of his ultrasounds had been fine. There was no indication of a problem. I didn’t know what a NICU was, nor did I care.

Until my son landed in it.

Labor had been difficult, resulting in a cesarean, but I wasn’t concerned. And when he was born, I cried as he wailed. They put him close to my face, as my arms were bound to the table, before taking to clean him up and wheeling me off to recovery.

It was about 30 minutes later when his father came in to check on me. He said, “your mom is worried about you because of the baby.”

Why are we worried about the baby? The baby looked fine. He was screaming. What else was he supposed to do? Juggle? 

“He had some breathing problems, but he’s ok.”

Buried the lede there, but there’s nothing to worry about. 

It was days later that I overheard my mother say, once in the nursery, he turned blue. They called a code and started manual ventilation.

SOME BREATHING PROBLEMS?! Could that have been more understated? 

I didn’t know he was in NICU until I was taken to my room, where I also learned I was allergic to morphine. I became violently ill, unable to leave the bed until the next day. My son was unable to leave the NICU. They sent me a Polaroid of him under an oxygen helmet hooked to so many wires he looked like a robot in test mode.

I was able to make my first trip to NICU the next morning — a 30-minute walk using a wheelchair to hold me up because of my surgery. My son’s father had to work, so I was alone. And at barely 24 years old, I made that walk every three hours (having nurses wake me in the middle of the night) to spend 15 minutes with my son. At one point he had run out of viable veins and his IV had been moved to his head. That wasn’t in any of the books I read. I wasn’t prepared for what that would do to me mentally when I walked in and saw it.

The stress and pressure of being so young and scared backfired, and I became one in 10 moms that develop postpartum depression. And I fought it for two years. Still, 16 years later, when I smell anything that resembles the soap used to scrub every time I entered the NICU, I tear up.

But because of the amenities in the upgraded NICU at the Medical Center, new moms won’t have to face all of the hardships I did. There’s a social worker to guide you. Nurses to educate you. And no concerns about watching the clock for every three hours.

Information like that is something every expecting mother should factor into her birth plan, because trust me when I say, you can’t predict how things will go.

But the New York Times doesn’t care that your local NICU was upgraded. They aren’t going to tell you which streets in your town are under repair because it was discussed in a city council meeting you didn’t go to. And you didn’t have to, because we did.

CNN and Fox News aren’t going to write about the young woman in high school excelling in automotive mechanics, inform you about an upcoming tax increase or just tell you about the new restaurant that recently opened up down the street from your house.

But we will. Because we focus on your hometowns and the information you need and want to know. We’re like your Facebook neighborhood watch group, but with information that’s verified and not speculated.

So if you’re still wondering what to get the people on your Christmas list, consider a subscription to Port Arthur Newsmedia; which can come in the form of a printed paper, an e-edition or unlimited online access to panews.com.

Support local journalism so we can continue to support you.

 

Monique Batson is the Port Arthur Newsmedia editor and can be reached at monique.batson@panews.com.