We’re coming up on a year since my last baby was born. Like her sister, she was a month early. There was nothing I could do. Emergency situation where I was required to let my baby go. And hand her over to the brilliant staff at the NICU. Before my first was born, I knew she’d be headed there. And I was so frustrated that I couldn’t find a resource to tell me what it was going to be like when she was in the hospital–and I was not. So, in remembrance of Donut’s birth and the 16 awful/crazy/painful/everything days that she spent in the NICU, here’s the 10 Things That Happen to You When Your Baby Is In the NICU. For moms-to-be, especially.
What Happens to You When Your Baby Is In the NICU
- Panic. Because you can’t control anything anymore. 10 minutes ago, your sweet baby was in your belly and safe–and you controlled EVERYTHING. Now, you control NOTHING.
- Depression. Because you can’t touch her. You can’t be with her. You have to follow someone else’s rules with your baby–the baby you carried and loved and named. But you can just stare. And cry a little. And maybe the charge nurse will feel sorry enough for you that she lets you hold her for a few minutes.
- Anger. Because you are the mom. But you aren’t in control. And the babies can’t tell you if they hurt or are sad or lonely. And so you can’t help. You can’t even comfort them. Even a little. Just stare. And that just sucks so bad it makes you angry. Angry enough to cry.
- Helplessness. Because, despite being angry, depressed, panicked–you still can’t do anything. And using the breast pump is something–but it’s really not. You’re still not being the mom. You still only change 1 diaper (maybe 2) a day and you’re watching someone else take care of your baby.
- Hope. Because, every day, something is new, something is better. And there is discussion of “when she comes home” and “she’s doing better”. Because it does get better. And she will go home. She has to–no one stays in the NICU until they’re 18. LOL!
- Listlessness. You can’t do anything. So you sit in the hospital cafeteria. Doing nothing. Wishing you could do something. Anything.
- Paranoia. Because you want to think that those nurses and doctors aren’t working for your baby to go–that they’re hanging onto her because they’ve got other things to do. But it’s not true. Tamp the paranoia down. But know it will be there and it’s ok.
- Trust. Greater than any trust you’ve ever handed anyone else in your life. You will trust those nurses and doctors with the most precious thing you’ve ever had the pleasure to love–the one thing you value more than your own life unconditionally. And you trust. Because you have to.
- Crushing Loss. Because, even if it’s your baby that’s walking out the door, your baby’s neighbor isn’t. And they’re life is still hanging in the balance. And you’ve been watching–and they might not make it. A sadness so great, you can barely manage to walk out the door.
- More Hope. Because they do go home. They do. Your baby is proof. Your baby is leaving, strong enough to be at home and not monitored 24/7 by nurses and doctors. You know they go home. So, there is hope.