It's been over two years since the NICU days, and still my mind can race back to those days with a familiar smell or alarm-like sound. If a public facility uses a certain kind of soap, the soap I became all too familiar with during those days, I begin to feel nauseous. The NICU can be scary, a lot overwhelming, and a place where God pulls and tugs at your faith. While I would never want to relive those weeks, I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned while in the midst of that time. the only certainty is uncertainty
The first question you would like the answer to is "when can baby come home?" And they always say, "we can't give you a date, but we're hoping in [insert approximate date/not good enough answer here]. And if the approximate answer is weeks instead of days, your heart sinks.
you don't feel like the mother
When you have to receive updates thru phone or by visit, you feel very much out of control. You think, "I'm her mother and I have to ask if I can....or how she did last night....or how I do this or that." Your instincts are controlled by the team of medical professionals that provide round the clock care for your preemie. I felt very much like a visitor, like I was watched and evaluated. I loved the nurses but I couldn't wait to care for my baby 100%.
allow extended family to care for children and tasks at home
It was hard balancing home life, my boys, and traveling to the NICU each day. I have a hard time asking for help, so I would wait for a family member to volunteer to watch the boys so I could go see my daughter. Most days I couldn't make it up there until the afternoon and I usually cried a lot in the mornings if this was the case. The important thing to know is babies need their mamas. Skin to skin, soft talking, and being there for feedings can speed up getting baby home. Extended family members and friends can see and bond with baby regularly once baby is home and settled but be there as much as possible. Stay and learn and be apart of most of baby's day. Some babies get overstimulated if held too much as preemies and having a bunch of family and friends come to visit and hold could take time away from mama cuddles.
find a fellow NICU mama
God blessed me with a childhood friend to walk thru this time with. Her own NICU experience two years prior with her twin preemie sons gave me strength and encouragement. She also joined me one time in the NICU and took some gorgeous photos I will always cherish of Avery and I.
Those moments when you wonder "will this nightmare ever end?", the moments where your hormones are completely driving you to madness and the balance and shifts that your life has drastically made, the times when you think "just another day or two, they think" and then baby has a bad day....all the moments, good and bad, God sees. He cares. He loves your child more than you ever could. He can use this time in the NICU for His good and ours.
The 21 days in the NICU taught me more than I wanted to learn at the time. But I can look back now and see a stronger me, a faith that's been stretched, and a God that is so much bigger than I knew before. To all the mamas out there that are in the midst of NICU days, remember that God adores you, He weeps when you weep and He has a plan for your tiny precious child. Allow Him to wrap you up in His arms and pour His perfect peace into your soul. You will get thru this time and will be a better mother and human for it.