I know your struggle because I’ve been there too. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your entire life but it’s also a time that you’ll look back on and think, “Wow, I am stronger than I ever knew I could be and my kid is a badass.”
Right now you’re in the hospital and everyone is telling you that this is a temporary time and pretty soon your baby is going to be home with you. I’ve been there I know how hard it is. Our time in the NICU, all nine weeks two days of it, was the most emotionally trying time of my life. I had to leave my baby every day to go home and take care of the rest of my family. I called constantly to make sure my baby was still breathing. I cried when I was doing laundry or eating dinner or taking a shower.
Right now, this is your reality. This is what you have to accept. This is who you are. You’re a NICU mom, and nothing can prepare you for the emotional heartache you’ll experience. The doctors and nurses keep telling you that everything your baby is doing is perfectly normal, but in your mind there’s nothing normal about it. If your baby is like mine, then you know what an “episode” is. Your baby stops breathing and his oxygen levels and heart rate plummet over and over and over again, and the nurses have to come in and stimulate him to breath again. There’s nothing normal about your child having to be stimulated to breathe. There’s nothing normal about tubes and wires coming out of your baby. To you it’s the scariest thing you’ll ever experience.
You’re a preemie mom. You’re part of an exclusive club of women who know what it’s like to worry every moment if their baby is going to make it. But you’re a woman too, and you have to remember that you’re also human and your body just went through a major trauma. You need time to heal, or at least that’s what everybody’s telling you. But in your mind, you just need to be at the hospital 24/7. So I’m going to say this to you because I’ve been where you are: give yourself some grace during this time. If you need to leave for a couple of hours during the day to go get your hair done or your nails done, do it. Your mental health still matters and you need to take care of yourself so that you can be there for your baby. But if you also feel like you don’t need to leave the hospital that day, that you need to just be there as long as you possibly can before you have to go home and take care of the rest of your family, do that too.
I can’t tell you how to experience this time in your life because it’s unique to every mother, but the one thing that’s constant, is that no matter what happens when you leave that hospital, you feel like part of you is missing. After having a baby, there’s nothing sadder than leaving the hospital alone, and you do it day in and day out. Hang in there NICU momma, you and your kid are badasses!
The doctors and nurses are right; one day your baby will be home with you and you’ll experience a whole new set of struggles. I know, because I was a NICU mom too. Now I’m a momma to a headstrong toddler who drives me crazy and makes my life amazing all at the same time! I know you can’t see it now, but when you do, you’ll look back on your time in the NICU and realize how strong you and your baby are!