Dear Mama of a NICU baby,
I see you. I see the fear that sets in when those first signs of preterm labor happen. I see the panic and worry on your face as you listen to the doctor tell you everything that could possibly go wrong. I see the slight reassurance when the NICU team comes in to address your concerns. I see the hope in your eyes as the doctor tells you there’s a chance they can stop labor.
I see the boredom you face day in and day out as you’re stuck on bedrest. You try to find something—anything—to take your mind off of all the “could be’s” and “what if’s”. You play each scenario in your mind over and over as you hope for the best yet prepare for the worst.
I see the overwhelming despair as they tell you it’s not working and to prepare to meet your baby sooner rather than later. The NICU team comes in to prepare. There are more people in your hospital room than you ever thought possible. Doctors and nurses for you, doctors and nurses for your baby. Special equipment is brought in that will be the lifeline for your baby these next trying days, weeks, or months. You are scared, and it’s ok.
Mama, you’ve got this. Your baby is born and you get to see her briefly before they whisk her away. Soon you’re left in a room by yourself as you wonder what’s going on with your baby. Your husband texts you with pictures and updates while you get taken care of after labor. You’re anxious and scared to meet your tiny little baby.
Mama, I see you. I see your shock as you realize your baby is the size of your hands. You see the tubes and the wires and your baby looks fragile. She’s so close and yet you can’t touch her. They tell you her body can’t handle your touch yet.
I see you celebrate her victories and I see the grief set in with each set back. You want to hold her and have her come home, yet you would also be fearful. Here she is cared for. Here she is watched 24/7 by careful, watchful nurses.
It’s hard. So much harder than you thought it would be. Everywhere you go people have their babies and you’re jealous and sometimes angry your baby isn’t with you. Every day you must make the trek to see your baby and every night you have to leave her there as you go back home. It’s not right and it’s not how it should be.
But here’s something I want you to know.
You are brave. You are strong. You are a great mother. I know it is hard. Your daughter is loved and cared for. Her victories are worth celebrating. She is growing and she is doing well. Soon, she will be home. I see you visit her often. I know you care. I see the love you have for her. I see you eager to hold her and feed her. I see you talk to the nurses and learn all you can. I see you prepare the place at home where she will sleep. I see you long for her to be home.
Soon, mama. Until then know that we are here for you. We see you. We celebrate when you celebrate and we grieve when you grieve. We are rooting for you and for her. We wait anxiously for the two of you to be together, as it should be. We are here for you, mama.