If you’re reading this I guess that means that you have a tiny bundle (or more!) in NNICU at the moment. What a taxing and exhausting journey this must be for you and those close to you.
Maybe this is your first baby, maybe not. Maybe NICU is a brand new experience for you, maybe not. Despite your experience, know that you are not alone.
Giving birth is a big deal, and given that your baby is in the NICU, you might not have had the birthing experience you had hoped for, or dreamt of. This is often a very tough experience to come to terms with. Quite often, those around you might say “at least they’re safe”. Yes that might be true, but it doesn’t mean that NOT experiencing your child’s birth is any less relevant. Many mothers mourn this for a good time to come – you can too. It takes time to work through those feelings of not experiencing such a powerful life event the way you deserved. Be kind to yourself and grieve this. If those closest to you struggle to understand, you can ask them what support you need from them to work through this. If your birthing experience was not what you had in mind, perhaps you’re trying really hard to get this breastfeeding thing done right. Or this pumping thing. Maybe it’s going really well because you have a lot of good help around you. Maybe it’s not going that great and you’re wondering if it would make things easier if you didn’t. If you are experiencing challenges with breastfeeding, reach out and ask for help. Maybe there is a good IBCLC (lactation consultant) who can help near you. If not, try La Leche League South Africa (www.lllsa.org). You deserve the help, information and support you need right now. Even if your goal is not to breastfeed for long, right now your milk is really important to your babies – it will help their organs mature faster, prevent infections and help them grow stronger. And it’s your special gift that no one else can give – a pretty powerful thing when you look helplessly at that tiny body working so hard to grow in this bright and noisy world.
You might be fighting for more time to practise skin-to-skin contact (or kangaroo mother care – KMC) with your baby. Maybe you are tired of asking and fighting. It’s a hard journey and very exhausting. Some moms have asked those close to them to advocate on their behalf. You can too.
Maybe you’ll be home soon, but maybe you’re in for the long haul. You’re incredibly strong and your baby is so lucky to have such a dedicated and nurturing mother! You are so special. It’s hard. It’s hard to spend hours in there and hours away from your home and your safe haven. It’s not in vain. You are doing an incredibly important job. You are mothering your baby. And it might not feel like it, but you know him or her better than anyone else on this planet.
When (s)he is stronger, you’ll be able to take your baby home. You’ll all be together under one roof, the way it should be. Balance will be restored. Take it one day at a time for now. As the saying goes: “how do you eat an elephant?” “Little piece, by little piece”. If you believe in a Higher Power than yourself, praise Him and put your faith and trust in Him. He knows what you need right now. Ask for it. Ask for strength. Celebrate every small victory.
May you be blessed on this super tough journey. May your baby be home with your soon. May you get to experience all the joys of motherhood in the years to come. May you come out stronger the other side. Because you are Mother. God didn’t give us superpowers for nothing.
Love, Amor – Mom of 3 girls (Emily, 9, and twins Abigail & Isobel (now 6) born early)