Constant vigilance : the lived experience of mothering a hospitalised child : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Nursing at Massey University
This phenomenological study describes the lived experience of mothering a child hospitalised with acute illness or injury. Seven mothers who had experienced this crisis within twelve months of our first interview agreed to share their stories with me. The resulting data were analysed and interpreted using van Manen's interpretation of Heideggerian phenomenology. Four phenomenological themes emerged from this study. Mothers have a special kind of knowing. They have a need to do with and for their child. Handing over to or leaving their child in the care of strangers and waiting for their child to be returned to their care are very difficult things for mothers to do. Their constant vigilance is enabled by their special kind of knowing and their need to do. The difficulty of handing over, leaving and waiting is emphasised by mothers' constant vigilance. Personal experiences during the course of my study presented significant challenges to my ability to offer an effective phenomenological description of the phenomenon under study. Continuous reflection aided by dialogue with fellow phenomenological researchers has resulted in a meaningful narrative. This description of mothering in a context of crisis is useful in the potential contribution it makes to nurses' understanding of mothers' experience of the hospitalisation of their children. It supports the philosophy of family-centered care and highlights the ability of individual nurses to make a positive difference to a very stressful experience.