So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

After my daughter was unexpectedly placed in the NICU, I’ve wanted to bring awareness and offer support for parents experiencing the NICU for the first time.

Here is my story:

Everyone warns you about the pain of childbirth, but no one warns you about the agony of being separated from your baby.

There is so much education, awareness, and support for miscarriage and postpartum depression but what about neonatal intensive care parents?

We entered the NICU for the first time after our daughter was born for what we expected to be a four-hour observation only to find her surrounded by nurses and connected to wires, tubes, and an IV. It was alarming and terrifying, to say the least.

They don’t teach you about the NICU in your birthing class.

What was I supposed to do? How are you supposed to cope? But nothing can prepare you to see your baby in that condition.

The first night spent in the hospital was torture, lying in bed and hearing the cries of a newborn in the room next door, wishing that could be me.

RELATED: Dear NICU Mom, I See You

The heartbreak I felt as I was being discharged from the hospital healthy, but my baby must remain behind. How unnatural it is to leave as I slowly walk away, waiting to get to the car before crying so that others don’t see my tears.

Waking up every three hours, not to feed a baby, but to pump, which was just another reminder of my reality.

The bitterness of watching fathers leave the hospital to shortly return with a car seat for their healthy newborn to go home while I sat outside the doors to the NICU, once again wishing that could be me.

My husband and I conquered holding and feeding our daughter while managing all the tubes and wires she was connected to.

We found strength in celebrating small victories like being taken off CPAP and moving to an oxygen cannula, or a full feeding without regurgitation or the use of her gastric tube.

Driving to and from the hospital three or more times a day to visit my daughter became my normal. I learned to juggle pumping and eating in between the NICU visiting hours to maximize my time spent with her. Holding back tears as I whisper, ”Goodbye, baby girl. I’ll come visit you in the morning,” at the end of each day. This is something that never got easier.

RELATED: In the NICU You Proved You Were Tiny But Mighty

We will always appreciate the NICU doctors and nurses for their guidance and support, but at the time it was difficult not to envy the complete power they had over OUR child.

We couldn’t help but see our daughter as a princess incarcerated in a dragon-guarded castle.

I made friends with other moms and looked forward to hearing positive updates on how their sons and daughters were doing. We related in so many ways that friendship quickly grew. It was so exciting each time one of their babies graduated, but at the same time, I wished it was mine. I felt resentment for seeing other babies spend less time in the NICU compared to my daughter, and I wrestled with guilt for feeling that way.

We were extremely grateful our daughter was as healthy as she was and only had respiratory difficulties, unlike many other families who aren’t so lucky.

Our baby was determined; she learned to breathe on her own. She stopped losing weight and started gaining as she learned to eat on her own. It was finally our turn to be dischargedmy wish finally came true.

We were so excited for our little family to finally be together and home, but with that excitement came fear.

There were no longer beeping machines to notify us of the well-being of our daughter and summon additional assistance from her nurses. Her whole existence and performance so far had been monitored and charted and recorded and trended. Now that we don’t have all the equipment anymore, how can we possibly know if she’s thriving or not?

RELATED: To the NICU Mom Who’s Back at Home

If having all of these obstacles weren’t enough, I felt an odd disconnect from my baby. I loved her more than imaginable, but at the same time, I’d been living without her. We didn’t get the independent, skin-to-skin contact that creates that instant bond as a result of being separated. Our bond, however, grew stronger and stronger as the days went on. I’ve learned our journey was different and may have taken more time, but I now know there’s nothing wrong with that.

In the face of all the challenges, we have a healthy 1-year-old who continues to meet milestones despite being premature. We couldn’t be more grateful.

I hope by writing this others can relate and know they’re not alone. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s stories are different. It’s equally important to offer support and encouragement regardless of the circumstances. Being strong is exhaustingremember it’s acceptable to seek help.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Lynsie O'Shaughnessy

My name is Lynsie O'Shaughnessy, and I became a mom in September of 2019. My goal is to help spread awareness and support for Neonatal Intensive Care Parents and the amazing doctors and nurses who care for our children. 

Donating Breastmilk Helped My Heart Heal

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman with packaged breastmilk, color photo

Dear grieving mama, You know when you lose a baby everything changes, but your body moves forward like nothing happened. It carried that tiny baby long enough to trigger a complicated hormonal cocktail that causes your milk to come in so that little life can continue to grow outside you. But your baby is separated from you in a way nature never intended. There will be no baby snuggles. There won’t be a sleepy, smiley, milk-drunk face looking up at you. But your body doesn’t know that, so your breasts swell and keep swelling with milk that has nowhere to...

Keep Reading

Colic Can Make a Good Mom Feel Like a Failure

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding crying baby

“Let me try.” A stranger. A complete stranger. I allowed a stranger to hold you. It has been weeks, and you’re still crying every evening around the same time for the same amount of time. The doctor told me it’s just colic and that it’ll pass, but his nonchalant reaction is in utter opposition to how I feel, to how you obviously feel. Colic is devastating. And no matter how many times people tell you the baby is OK . . . when you watch your baby cry that much, you know they can’t be. I tried to take you...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Will Challenge Every Inch of You—but You Are Strong

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mom holding new baby

Dear momma, Although it may not feel like it now, you will become stronger each and every day. Your feelings of hopelessness and sadness will be a distant memory. I promise you will get better, and you will be happy again. It is OK that you don’t know anything, your baby will forgive you. Your feelings of guilt have no merit. You will question everything. Keep asking those questions but trust your gut too. It will lead you in the right direction.  You are doing enough. You are enough.  RELATED: Dear Mom, Your Best Is Enough Do not wish the...

Keep Reading

Going from One to Two Kids Was So Much Harder than I Expected

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four

I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  And boy, DID. I. NOT. KNOW.  But, I really thought I did!  I really thought that waiting until our daughter was three before adding another child would make the transition easy. She will be more independent then, I reasoned. Also, fully potty-trained (HA!), enrolled in school, and interested in some things besides just Mommy. Plus, I’ve done this newborn thing before! How hard could it be? Bless that naive spirit. Because those optimistic expectations sure didn’t match my reality. I was firmly set on breastfeeding. So after our second baby came home, the nightly wakings...

Keep Reading

Just Wait Until You Realize Every Hard Moment Is Worth It

In: Baby, Motherhood
Woman kissing baby

Every new parent has heard it before—all those “just wait until . . .” comments. Just wait until you have to wake up every two hours, then you’ll really know what it means to be tired.  Just wait until your baby cries like mad, then you’ll really know what patience is.  You just wait until you find out what it truly means to be busy, then you’ll laugh at what you used to think of as busy days.  But you know what I say? Yes, the newborn stage can be difficult, but oh, how those precious moments wipe the difficultness away.  See,...

Keep Reading

I Would Relive Every Moment of Sorrow Just To Hold You

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, black-and-white photo

As I sat there rocking my child to sleep, I caught my mind wandering to the past. Not my recent past but my before . . . Before my son was born. Before my stressful pregnancy. Before my positive pregnancy test. Before . . . when I was praying every day for a miracle—six years back. Infertility is a messy journey that few (and many at the same time) are chosen to take. It’s lonely and heartbreaking and dark and will make you hate yourself at times. You feel helplessness and anger and despair. RELATED: This is Infertility Your relationships...

Keep Reading

When a Rainbow Baby Meets Mama

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
newborn baby on mother's chest

This week, one year ago, was one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Fast forward to exactly one year later, and here I am cuddling you, my sweet boy. I never truly understood what “rainbow baby” was all about, but I get it now. Sure, I knew what it meant and what it represented. I had read the articles and heard the stories. I had seen the meaningful images and understood the definition. But I never truly and deeply knew what happens when a rainbow baby meets their mama . . . until you. When a rainbow baby...

Keep Reading

How Do You Know it’s Really the Last Baby?

In: Baby, Motherhood
Selfie of pregnant woman standing next to child, color photo

I love being pregnant. I love everything about it. I am, however, one of the lucky ones who has been blessed with stress-free pregnancies. I get the typical morning sickness in the first trimester and the utter exhaustion in the third trimester, but other than that, it’s just pure enjoyment. I know not everyone has that experience, some have horrific pregnancies, but for me they have all been relatively easy. Trust me, I do know how fortunate I am. I’m currently pregnant with my fourth child. The little man is due this summer. From the very beginning when I first...

Keep Reading

It’s Hard on a Mother’s Heart To Watch Her Last Baby Grow Up

In: Baby, Motherhood
Child walking away in grass

My youngest son turned two a few months ago and still has a binky. He actually calls it his “mimi,” and he loves it so much. This morning I  looked at him with a mimi in his mouth and a mimi in his hand before I walked him into daycare and realized something. I am not ready to let go of the baby stage.  Getting rid of the binky would be the last step of the baby stage. He is already in a big boy bed. He doesn’t want to sit in a high chair for meals. He tries to...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.

Mother Holding Baby

5 Secrets

for New Moms


Encouragement for the newborn stage