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

Overwhelmed at the NICU

At first I was embarrassed at my uncontrollable display of emotions, but then I decided that it didn’t matter.  I was shocked and frightened at what lay before me, and I had just undergone major surgery!  I just didn’t have the strength to keep my composure any longer.

After my 27-weeker was life-flighted to a large NICU four hours from my home (my husband went with her), I stayed in the hospital where I delivered for 3 extra days to recover from my emergency c-section.  My mother then drove me to the NICU and it was the most painful trip I’ve ever taken.  I felt every pebble and bump in the road, and even though I had a big pillow between my stomach and my seat belt, I was terrified of the pressure on my incision.  I was also desperate to be with my husband again, and dreading that I was not returning home until my baby did – however long that turned out to be.

I was pushed in a wheelchair through the hospital and into the NICU unit.  I scrubbed my hands at the sink, and then was wheeled into the triage room to see my baby for the 3rd time.  What I saw frightened me, because my baby was so covered in tubes and wires and had so many machines attached to her that I didn’t feel at all like I thought I should when I was near my baby.  I was scared of her.  She didn’t fit the image of a baby I had always known and I did not know what to think or how to feel, and I certainly didn’t dare try to hold her (I couldn’t anyway).  I was devastated that I wasn’t instantly bonded with her, and I felt completely helpless because I couldn’t do anything for her.  I looked at her for a few minutes, and then went out to rejoin my family in the waiting room.  When my family looked at me expectantly to see what I thought of my new baby I did not have the strength to hold back any longer, and I burst into tears.  I wondered if other new preemie moms felt the way I did, because I felt completely alone.  And, I was about to be abandoned to spend my days alone with a baby I did not know and to be surrounded by people and things I knew nothing about.  I did not know where to turn for support.

I know many of you out there felt the way I did, or are in the midst of it right now.  I hope that this site provides a sense of community and understanding to all of you who need it.

Please leave your thoughts on the subject.

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.


  1. NO I did not even know what a NICU was until i had my son. i was only 25 weeks we had not gotten to the tour part yet. my son was born in boston mass because NH dose not have the proper staff for a nicu. I was scared with him being my first child and not knowing what was to come of eveythind

  2. I went in for my checkup at 23 weeks 5 days and complained of cramping. They checked and I had dialated 2 and the bag was protruding…I was rushed to UNC and had the bag pushed back and a cerclage. The following night they sent me and my husband to the NICU for a tour and to show me a baby that was about the same size my son was possibly going to… See More be. I knew Joshua would be early, the doctors told me I would be luckily to make it to 25 or even 26 weeks. (He came at 25 weeks 1 day) Even though we had the tour and were warnedit is still overwelming. I do not think anyone can be completely prepare, but Ithink he tour helped from it being such a blow. A hospital can be such a scarey place and especially the NICU.

  3. I went in at 27 weeks with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, they flew us to a hospital 3 1/2 hours from here and I delivered that night. never fun on your 1st child.

  4. Stephanie says:

    i had my son at 32 weeks and it was totally unexpected so we didnt get a tour.i knew of SCBU/NICU thru a friend of mine having a nephew who was in SCBU still bloody scary tho expecially when its your first

  5. I have seen these premmie babies on tv but never imagined that we would be there. My baby was born at 23weeks and 5 days in a small hospital not equiped to have such tiny babies she was transfered to another hospital, so it wasnt just NICU that was overwhelming it was going into the city (which i never go there) to a new hospital and NICU. She is now 4 and half months old and doing well.

  6. I had my daughter at 26 wk 4 days she was transported to another hospital 2 hours after she was born. It was overwhelming 1st because we were not in the same hospital and then 2nd because I did not know what to expect when I got to her. This was my 1st baby and it was very tramatic she is turning 1 in two day and is healthy and happy. I just thank god for the Dr. and nurse in the NICU they were very helpful and understanding.

  7. I had my son at 26 wks. it was totally unexpected so i did not get a tour of the NICU.My first visit there was a happy and sad experience because i was happy to see him since that whisked him out of my room so fast and sad to see him with all the tubes.

  8. I was hospitalized 2 wks before our delivery. At our hospital, they don’t offer the tour due to the Hippa law. I had the Triplets ( Girl, Girl, Girl) @ 27wks and seeing them with all the tubes was very sad. What made it worse, was that I had to leave my babies behind and leave the hospital on Mothers Day!!! The NICU is something I won’t want my worst enemy to go through

  9. Three days before I had my 23 weeker, we went to the specialist and found out that I had no amniotic fluid. We were told to meet with the Neonatologist on Monday at the NICU to take our tour and learn about preemie’s born that early and to determine when I would be admitted to the hospital for monitoring. This was on a Friday. Sunday night I … See Morestarted with contractions that were not very consitant. Monday morning I woke up early to contractions every 3-5 minutes. We had my son that day at 3 pm via emergency c-section. We met the Neonatologist right before we went into surgery. She gave us grim statistics, but was very honest about what the odds were going to be. She is the most wonderful Dr. ever! We laughed for a little bit since we did not get the opportunity to visit with her that Monday, but ended up in her lap in an emergency situation! My son is the smallest baby (14oz.) to be born at that hospital and they are still very much a part of his life, now that he is home!

  10. I was in the hospital 4 days before our baby was born @ 31 wks. I had to be transferred by ambulance on day 2 since our hospital was only level 2 and we needed a level 3. We were able to talk to a neonatologist and were supposed to get a tour but they too busy and then baby wanted to be born so no tour. We were lucky enough that when our baby was born we got to spend about 15 mins with him since he was doing good and breathing on his own. I’d say first few visits were happy, sad and anxious.

  11. No I did not get a tour of the nicu….I went in that evening & they took him at 2:00 am at 24weeks 2days…Infection had spread to my uterus !!!

  12. No, I was on bedrest prior to my son’s delivery . I wanted to go tour the NICU (one floor up in the hospital) but couldn’t be detached from all my monitors. I wish I could have — would have relieved the stress of the “unknown”.

  13. No tour here either 🙁 we had our third baby 6wks early, I know it doesn’t compare to most other stories, but wow, what a happy and sad place. Kase was at the Toledo Childrens Hosp for 22 days, but leaving my 4yo and 19mo at home was also hard…

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