Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Your Story is Valid

twins NICU hand to hold, NICU experience

Life with these two is not always easy, but it’s definitely never boring.

As a supportive network of NICU parents, we do our best not to compare experiences, but to recognize that everyone’s experience is different, and everyone’s feelings about that experience are completely valid. It seems no matter how long the NICU stay, many of us carry some degree of guilt about not being able to protect our babies.

A few years ago I wrote an essay about how I’ve never had “just” one kid. I came home from the hospital after our five week NICU stay, overwhelmed with two infants who didn’t sleep nearly as much as they did in the hospital. I wrote about how for years I harbored resentment towards those who had it easier than I did – those with just one child, those with two children more spaced out, those who were not possibly as overwhelmed as I was.

When the essay was published, parents all over the internet commented in droves to tell me what a horrible mother I was, slamming me for not being appreciative of the three beautiful children I do have, when there are women everywhere who struggle with infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss.

They weren’t completely wrong. But those stories were not my story, and each of our stories has a valid place and deserves to be told.

I do not know what it is like to lose a pregnancy. And I only know the pain of losing a baby through reading the stories from our contributors and others on the internet. I’ve wept over many YouTube videos sent my way through our Facebook page, some parents proudly documenting their preemie’s first year of life, some commemorating a life cut way too short.

These stories grab my heart and squeeze it so tight, I can’t breathe, and I wonder how those parents have the strength to keep it together.

I also read stories from mothers who are still wracked with guilt after their babies were unexpectedly taken to the NICU after a seemingly healthy, full term delivery, leaving them to recover alone in her room, and frightened and unable to see their baby right away.

These experiences are unimaginably hard. All of them.

If we do anything as parents in this community, we need to lift each other up in our times of need. A week in the NICU can be terrifying for many, while month in the NICU can be quite uneventful for others. Those first few hours and days are overwhelming and chaotic for every parent.

Each experience is unique to that parent.

Your fear and your uncertainty are not dependent on the gestational age of your baby or the length of your journey. All of these pains, worries, frustrations, heartaches and yes, celebrations, are still valid. It’s neither a contest, nor is it safe to brush off your own feelings of worry or pain because someone else has it harder. There will always be a more heartbreaking, more frightening, or more inspiring story.

But your story is still your story, and it still counts.

It took me years to get over my resentment, to realize that everyone’s version of hard is relative. Once I let go of my preconceived notions based on my own experiences, I gained empathy towards others who may not have preemies, may not have twins, but who may be dealing with their own difficulties: the mama of one who desperately wants more, the mama of one who lost a twin, even the mama who is having a really difficult day and just needs to vent a little bit.

Your hard is still hard. Your feelings are still valid. Your story still counts.

Leigh Ann Torres About Leigh Ann Torres

Online Community Coordinator, Preemie Babies 101 Lead Blogger - Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer, blogger and mother of three living in Austin, TX. After a short and sudden bout with severe preeclampsia, Leigh Ann’s identical twin girls were delivered at 31 weeks, spending 38 mostly uneventful days in the NICU. Two years later the Torres family welcomed another baby, this time at term, with only a mild case of preeclampsia. Leigh Ann currently runs Hand to Hold’s official blog and social media channels. When she’s not doing laundry or fulfilling requests for snacks, she usually has her nose stuck in a book. You can keep in touch with Leigh Ann on Twitter or via email.

Comments

  1. Susan Hundley says:

    My story as a grandmother to precious 26 week identical twin granddaughters, who spent 96 days in the NICU and are now perfect 3 years old is one only I understand. I get that. While I am so grateful every day for my granddaughters I will never be the same. In some ways the experience has changed me for the better. Before the twins, I viewed children with sympathy and while I knew their families loved them, I had no idea how much. Now I know. In the early days of the twins life, I prayed for one thing – that they both survive. I loved them so much and thought they were so beautiful from the second I saw them, any disabilities we were warned of, didn’t diminish that love. Of course as each issue was checked off, I was relieved because it meant their lives would be easier. Now the flip side of what their early birth did to me was not good. I still fear that something could still happen – no medical reason supports this, but deep inside me I fear this. Probably because I never thought we would have two perfectly healthy little girls – the odds were just too monumental against this! Yet, they defied the odds. i am only speaking from my perspective as a grandmother, since I know my daughter and son-in-law have their own story.

  2. Susan Hundley says:

    I mean I viewed children with disabilities with sympathy in the above comment

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