I realize that our NICU stay was short in comparison to what a lot of other families go through, but those 12 days we spent in the NICU were the longest, most emotionally draining days of my life. I got to the point where I literally couldn’t cry any more–I didn’t have any tears left to shed.
After a lifetime of hopes and prayers to have a baby, 35 long weeks of pregnancy, and 8 hours of labor, I still didn’t have my baby in my arms and it was just almost too much for me to handle.
Two months later and I’m proud to say that our NICU experience made me a stronger, more humble person. Now that we have our sweet baby at home, a few revelations stick with me:
- Nobody understands exactly how you feel except other NICU families. Which brings me to my next point…
- The NICU rollercoaster bonds people. You find yourself rooting for the other families as if you’re one big family. I think I spent more time praying for my fellow NICU families than I did for my own.
- You are on a constant emotional rollercoaster. In my heart, I blamed myself for her being in the NICU, but in my head, I knew that it wasn’t my fault. All I knew is that I would have given anything to take her pain away.
- You celebrate small victories. We quickly discovered that you can’t focus on when you get to take your baby home because nobody knows; instead, you have to focus on small goals like removing a tube, decreasing oxygen, or gaining a few ounces.
- It’s amazing how well you can function on no sleep. You don’t want to miss those hands-on times and the opportunity to change a diaper…then, by the time you pump, drink your body weight in water, go to the bathroom, and scrub back in, it’s time to do it all over again. There’s just no time to sleep in the NICU.
- Life in the NICU is a blur. I wish I had done a better job of documenting what happened every day and what the doctors would say, but between recovering from labor; managing my pain; overcoming the fog from my magnesium drip; running on no sleep; and being emotionally and physically drained, everything just went over my head.
- While I appreciated every call and message I received, it was overwhelming to respond (see above). Just know that if you didn’t receive a timely response from me, I appreciated you. Just knowing you were thinking and praying for us meant the world to me.
- At the time, I felt like I was being deprived of making memories with my baby. I would spend hours mourning the birth and new parent experience that we didn’t get. It took me quite awhile to realize that we still got to make memories and do typical new parent things, it just looked different than what I had originally pictured.
- I think the NICU makes you appreciate your baby just a bit more. We had to overcome a lot of hurdles to take our precious baby home. On the bright side, I now have justification for why I hold my baby all day: I didn’t get to hold her much the first two weeks of her life, so I’m just making up for lost time!
Did you have a NICU baby? What revelations stuck with you?
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Alana is a small-town Oklahoma girl who now resides in Edmond with her husband and daughter. She has an undergraduate degree in Business Management from USAO and an MBA from Oklahoma Christian. Alana is a former Foster Mom that still has a great passion for foster care. She recently quit her job as a Marketing Director to be a SAHM. Alana enjoys spending her time binge watching Netflix (and Hulu), practicing yoga (practice being the key word), listening to country music, and blogging over at Livingston Way (http://livingstonway.blogspot.com).
Alana is a contributor for Oklahoma City Moms Blog, one of our Sister Sites.