Dear NICU parent,
First of all, congratulations on bringing life into this world! I don’t know how you got to this point. Whether your labor was long or short. Whether this moment was a surprise or a day that you have been anticipating after months on bedrest. I do know that it is ok to have all sorts of feelings, good and bad about how you got to this point.
I know it’s normal to feel sad that you missed your own baby shower or anxious because you don’t have the nursery ready. I know it’s scary to think you didn’t have the full 40 weeks to prepare for your birth, for your baby. But more than anything, I know the feeling of walking into that NICU and seeing your tiny baby hooked up to wires. I know the helpless, angry, and terrified feeling of seeing your child in an isolette.
I know the overwhelming love you have in your heart and I know that you would give anything to be able to pick your baby up and kiss those cheeks. I know the jealous feeling of sitting in your postpartum recovery room hooked up to a pump and hearing those sweet cries coming from your next-door neighbor’s room. Your neighbor who gets to cuddle her newborn baby whenever she wants and whose heart doesn’t drop when her cell phone rings.
I know the nervous feeling when you are allowed to change your baby’s diaper for the first time. I know that you think your body failed you and caused you to fail your baby. I know that leaving the hospital without your baby is the most unnatural feeling in the world. I know that you cannot wait for the day you get to take your baby home, but you are also terrified to leave the doctors, nurses and monitors behind.
I also know that the NICU changes you for the better. This journey will make you a better parent and a better person. I know you can’t wait to tell your preemie all they overcame and how strong they are, but I want you to know how strong you are too. You are so much braver than you know, and I so wish I could give you a huge hug right now. Please let people take care of you and please ask for help. I know you don’t want to leave your baby for a minute, but get some fresh air and a hot meal. I know you want to do it all on your own, but your baby needs you to take care of yourself too.
I know one day you will start to forget moments of your NICU journey. I know life will move so fast that one day your preemie will turn into a feisty two year old. I also know that the NICU will always be a part of you. One day you will wash your hands and the scent of the soap will toss you right back into that emotional journey. I know you can do this.
Thinking of you,
A NICU graduate