After three NICU stays, becoming a mom twice in one year, the trauma of losing one child, 80 days on bed rest, all the emotions of bringing our second son home, and everything in between . . . I’ve struggled with figuring out my new life and finding my new self. My new self after loss, as a mom and a parent after loss all while dealing with postpartum depression, PTSD, and learning how grief and joy can co-exist.

Slowly I began noticing a change. New thoughts and feelings that weren’t me. Well, weren’t me a year ago. I needed to figure out the difference between what I needed help working through and what was a part of this new version of me.

As I continued to work through the grief and the trauma, I began to realize something I needed with the new version of me. It was boundaries. I needed self boundaries, boundaries as we build our family, and boundaries to help me work through my grief and trauma.

And guess what mamas? It’s OK to need boundaries.

It’s OK to want quality family time with just your family.

It’s OK to need space.

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It’s OK to feel all the feelings and just be still when you need to.

It’s OK to be in the NICU and request others not to touch or hold your child.

It’s OK to not want to share some of the special moments.

It’s OK to want your alone time.

It’s OK to tell others what you need at this time.

It’s OK that those needs and boundaries may change.

It’s OK to miss loved ones and yet want to live in a different state with your family.

It’s OK to need more boundaries from some people and fewer boundaries from others.

It’s OK to know when you need a break.

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It’s OK to not know what you need.

It’s OK to ask for help, to see a therapist, or to just confide in your best friends.

It’s OK to need boundaries, mama.

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Identifying and acknowledging boundaries has helped me understand these new emotions because the NICU changes you, losing a child changes you, trauma changes you, motherhood changes you. Share your boundaries with your support system. They may not know these new boundaries exist and cannot help or act unless you tell them.

As we embark on these journeys and find the new version of ourselves, remember: it’s OK to need boundaries, mama.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Justina Oldehoff

Justina Oldehoff is a mom of two preemie boys, Carter in heaven (1/21/19-1/24/19) and Aron born 10/9/2019 who is home and healthy, and a wife of 11 years to Dan. Following the passing of their son, Carter's Cause Foundation was created to honor Carter's legacy and provide resources and support to NICU families, loss families, and support systems.