I never thought I would see the inside of a NICU

I never thought I would see the inside of the NICU. Does any parent ever think they will? They don’t tell you to prepare for that in the pre-natal visits. People don’t talk about it and for good reason it is one of the most tramautic times you will ever go through in your life and the life of your child. Your world is upside down, your life feels empty and no one can relate because most people will never have that experience.

You don’t get to tour the NICU like you do the nursery prior to giving birth. So it is extremely overwhelming and scary to see isolette’s, monitors and to hear the sounds of all the machines. My first visit to the NICU was three days after my child was born. It would be another day until I could hold my baby and even then she was so delicate and had cords and tubes coming out all over the place.

Then I went home and she stayed there. It was the worst feeling in my life. I was on the way home without my baby. She would be over an hour away for several weeks. My husband and I would sit on our sofas across from each other at night, speechless because you can feel the void of your baby being so far away. People would drop off dinners, like in a normal pregnancy, but I kept thinking what’s the point, we aren’t losing sleep or up to our arms in baby clothes and diapers.

Each morning we ran to the computer to check our email to see how many grams she had gained overnight. Then we would make the journey to the hospital to hold her for a few minutes and try to bottle feed her to suppliment the feeding tube and to get her used to bottle feedings.

When you are in the NICU you see amazing doctors and nurses caring for these tiny precious lives. Some of the baby’s were as small as my hand. I never knew all that my own little one went through with some of her procedures until watching the series NICU on Discovery Health and it’s probably better that I didn’t know at the time.

The natural maternal instinct is to be with your baby and to care for your baby, when that doesn’t work out like it should, your body and your mind know it. Some studies have indicated that some NICU parents go through so much stress and emotion after a NICU experience they are diagnosed with PTSD.

I couldn’t grasp at the time how this experience changed me. I can tell you that when our baby first came home until she was almost one and a half I was holding her. It was like I was making up for lost time. I was so thankful to be able to cuddle her. The moment after birth when you should see your child and touch your child is so precious. If you don’t have that, or if the first time you meet your baby is through an isolette and all you can do is hold her tiny hand, something inside of you breaks, and it hurts. But in time you learn that this is something that can make you a stronger parent, a more attentive advocate for pre-term birth, NICU care, everything. I would not change our experience for the world, because it is part of our family and it created a bond and it served for different memories.

There is a picture above my desk and it is my tiny baby, feeding tube coming from her nose and she is only a week or so old and she is smiling. Babies don’t usually smile at that age, but here is my little fighter smiling and it’s like she was saying if I can deal and make the best of this so can you. And I now have that picture for my daily inspiration and it would never have been possible if I had not seen the inside of a NICU.


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