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Letters to the NICU: From Chantal

Dear Warrior Mamma,

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I am a proud mum to a 33 weeker preemie (born under weight at 1.5 kg due to me needing an Emergency Caesar as my body was shutting down due to a form of HELLP syndrome – hello mommy guilt!). In my eyes, my preemie is my fierce Hero and taught me so much in those 33 days that we shared on the roller coaster NICU journey of great highs and very dark lows. She is now a feisty, life-filled bubbly 3.5 year old #thereishope #gratitude.

Tip one – celebrate each and EVERY victory!

I remember the day the gynae said I was ready to be discharged (5 days post delivery)… whaat?! Leave my most precious bundle in the hospital and head home which was 25 kilometres away empty handed? I leaned on my support network, dropped my new ”first time” mom ”cape” and let myself be carried out of the hospital by my husband in unashamed tears. I called the NICU angel nurses every hour that night to check in on my daughter, took deep breaths through the night and charged right back to the NICU the next day to embrace my little one in love, support and fierce encouragement and bravery to give it all she had – YOU GOT THIS mamma and bubs!!

Tip two – You braver and stronger than you know, deep breaths you got this, and in those more vulnerable moments, reach out to your support network unashamedly!

The milking room of ongoing pumping and milk production at its best, was a source of togetherness as I bonded with fellow NICU moms. Despite all having very different journeys, we shared in the same emotions. So many mixed emotions of utter terrifying anxiety and lack of control, hope, pride of your new little family member, celebrations of them managing to drink 1 ml syringes of milk, breathing on their own to even graduating to an open cot, kangaroo soothing cuddles, successful operations/ procedures and growth of every extra gram. Having almost losing my daughter due to NEC and praying every single second next to her ICU bed to pull through opened my heart to promising to give this journey some purpose and learn every lesson it had for me and my family and pay it forward.

I now find myself fulfilling my promise and have opened my own little preemie and NICU online gifting service to help bring back some purpose, celebration and bespoke support to all on the journey. Gifts that a mum can use uniquely in the NICU and feel less on the side lines of motherhood and feel more like those mum’s who experienced full term norms of motherhood. Hand creams for the cracked hands for those endless sanitizing soap washing, books to read while you pass time next to your incubator, custom made milestone cards to help celebrate the victories and NICU milestones, octopals and a fun water bottle to keep hydrated in that milking room!

Tip Three – find your purpose, lesson and lean into it.

I hope you find some solace in a little glimpse of what my experience in the NICU taught me and some of my tips that got me through the dark days (even once we had the privilege of leaving the NICU with our teeny tiny hero). Working through my post-natal anxiety and growing my little business of spreading my love and hope; and also leaning on my support network, I now embrace the journey with a deep respect to the dark stormy clouds and a sigh of gratitude for the many rainbows and joy which I have learnt by embracing bravery has taught me.

Be brave, celebrate the victory’s, deep breaths, have faith in the journey and purpose and most importantly: YOU GOT THIS MAMMA. You are most definitely not alone.

All my love, hugs and prayers for you and your little one.


Chantal Carter-Jackson

Founder of Owlet & Me

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash