Dear New Mommy in the NICU …
I know you are worried and scared. Take a deep breath, and let’s have a quick chat. Mom to mom.
My experience as a NICU mommy was very unexpected. R was a full term baby, born on his due date, after a healthy and uneventful pregnancy (find his birth story at the end of this post). He suffered Meconium Aspiration Syndrome at birth and was critically ill. We spent 19 days in the NICU. My husband and I both were scared and clueless. Knowing what I know now, here are 5 things I need you to know …
This is not your fault
It’s not your fault. Your baby is not in the NICU because of something you did or didn’t do during your pregnancy. It wasn’t what you ate, or how much you exercised or how stressed you were at work. Things happen and we don’t always know why. Don’t beat yourself up, it’s not your fault.
This will not hurt your bond with your baby
I didn’t get to hold baby R during the entire first week of his life (except for a few seconds at birth). We did not have any skin to skin bonding, or breastfeeding right after he was born. This broke my heart as a mother and started a stream of worries about our ability to bond.
Your baby knows you and loves you. The bond a baby has with it’s mother is an amazing thing, and my NICU experienced proved it. Baby R and I are just as bonded as my first son and I are. He knows his mama and will never know the difference that one week made.
The nurses are your best friends
Lean on them, cry with them, ask them questions. I imagine every NICU in the world has the same amazing nurses that mine did. I wish I had opened up to our nurses sooner. They know everything about your baby’s health, the care plan, the best food in the cafeteria, how long rounds might take, and more.
You’re part of a club
Welcome to the NICU mommy club! It’s a club that no one intends to join. You are now bonded with so many other women who have been through a NICU stay with their babies. Share your story with them, and listen to their stories. If your NICU has a reunion, attend it! If they have a Parent’s Advisory Council, join!
This will not last forever
It can’t and it won’t. All of a sudden you’ll be signing discharge papers and taking a healthy baby home.
You’ll think back on this experience and wonder, “how did we do that every day? How did we get through that?”
But get through it you will.