I’m writing you this letter because I wish someone had written these words to me. I know you didn’t expect to be here; none of us did.
First of all, you are not alone. I know it feels that way right now. You’ve just given birth to the person you’ve been carrying for the last few months and now you have to… “visit” them. Not only are you sleep deprived, but you might be feeling guilty, too. “Did I do something wrong? Am I to blame? The NICU, itself, can be kind of a scary place. There are wires, feeding tubes, and all the sleeping babies in their clear little boxes. It’s a lot. I remember my friend telling me, “I cried plenty of times in the NICU & in my room. It’s not easy, even if she is one of the better cases in there.”
Her message really meant a lot to me. She knew how I was feeling—which meant I really wasn’t alone. It’s true, we weren’t one of the worst cases. Some babies can spend days, weeks, or even months receiving extra love and care. Thankfully, my daughter only spent 6 days in the NICU. But they were the longest 144 hours of my life. I was drained. Depressed. And I worried about my daughter constantly. Was she okay? Was she scared? Did she know I wasn’t there? They were feelings I wouldn’t wish on anybody. But in a sad way, it was nice to know other moms had been through this. So that’s why I’m writing you this letter.
You got this.
No one knows what it’s like to have a baby in the NICU, unless they’ve experienced it. It’s a time full of “What if’s” and silent prayers. It means living the foreseeable future in 3-hour intervals. It’s googling “bilirubin levels” at midnight when you should be sleeping, and now it’s 3 a.m. and you have to march yourself back to the NICU. I know the disinfectant that they make you scrub up to your elbows makes you want to gag, but put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time and get through this one visit. This one hour. This one time.
Don’t worry about tomorrow, or when your baby’s levels are going to regulate. Don’t worry if you look crazy walking down the empty hallway at 4:15 a.m. holding your small vials of pumped colostrum. You probably do, but that’s okay. I’ve been there. I didn’t get to hold my daughter when she was born because she needed the help of a breathing machine. There were times when she couldn’t keep her eyes open because her blood sugar was too low to turn off the feeding device. That was, by far, my very hardest day; she looked lifeless. But like my friend told me… try to stay strong for your little one.
Because one day, you are going to hear those three little words- GO HOME DAY.
And believe me, that day is coming. One day you’ll get to hold your baby without the monitors, or the chords, or without having to say goodbye.
But until then—thank your nurses for their love and support. Ask them questions, write down their answers. Sleep when you can. Cry if you have to. And always remember– the two of you may have had a rough start but tough times often lead to beautiful beginnings.
And mama, that’s exactly where you’re headed.
GO HOME DAY!