I’ve been where you are. I’ve been in a hospital bed, striving to keep my baby in for one more day as if concentrating hard enough would stop the contractions. I’ve been there while NICU doctors told me about survival rates as I stared at the hospital ceiling, looking at the beaming fluorescent lights, trying to fight the tears until they left the room. Thinking to myself, please God, keep him in one more day. And when one more day didn’t come, I sat in the dimly lit room filled with machines, incubators, and cords, so many cords.
I’ve watched helplessly on the sideline as a nurse put an IV into my son’s head or tried to put feeding tubes that he consistently pulled out back in his nose. I’ve waited anxiously for reports that check for brain bleeds, infections, and heart problems. And when it was time to leave for the day, I shed tears as I walked out of the hospital, day after day, week after week, without my baby in a fog of the unknown of what tomorrow would bring.
While most new moms are awakened throughout the night by their new bundles of joy for feedings, I’ve set my alarm clock to wake up and pump in hopes my milk would come in. To gain some sense of control, thinking if I could pump at least a couple of milliliters of milk for a feeding, I was doing something for the baby I couldn’t even nurse. And when I was up pumping, I made those phone calls to the night nurses, heart pounding as I anxiously awaited to hear if there had been any drop in my helpless baby’s heart rate.
I’ve been there. I feel for you. My time in the NICU with our son was years ago, but I still feel all the feelings. On top of the NICU being an uncharted place, I was doing it without my husband as he was away in the military. It was a season like no other, pushing me to cling to my faith in ways I never had before.
Just breathe, mamas. Take one day at a time.
One day years from now, you’ll look at that growing boy or girl in awe that such a hard time seems so long ago. You’ll see them as just regular kids, thriving in school, sports, and friendships and no longer labeled as a “26-, 27-, 28-weeker.” No one will know from a glance how their story began and all the fears the early months held.
That time in the NICU will seem like a fading memory. But you’ll be where I am tonight as I sneak in to give my son one more kiss, long after he’s been asleep like moms do. Thinking about him turning another year in the morning, reminiscing, and wanting to remember everything he went through and fought for to get here.