It is free to be kind to others. Smile and say hi to someone. Listen to someone. Do other random acts to pay it forward. These random acts can outweigh the negativity going on in our world. These acts can help someone who is lost or broken without you knowing because it was just the right thing to do. Who knows, if enough kindness happens, maybe the scary stuff will be muted or go away altogether. Lets give these amazing fighters a positive and kind world to grow up in.
I’m ready (I think). My sons, Geno and Ronan, are now 2 and half years old. In some ways it seems like forever ago, and in others, it all began yesterday. For quite some time, the trauma of our NICU journey had left me speechless. But if my tiny mighty fighters could brave 65 days in the NICU, I can certainly find the courage to put some of that into words. So here it goes. These are the things I needed hear. Or things I heard, but didn’t believe. These are the truths and lies of NICU motherhood:
If you are blessed to be a nurse, please know that what you do changes lives. What you do shines a light in the darkness for so many. On days you feel like giving up- someone needs you- and might just be speechless with gratitude.
These memories spark a proud mama bear in me; proud of her for how far she’s come, proud of our family for what we have gotten through, together. Some people might be scared to have a random picture pop up of their baby when she was only 1 lb 5 oz, three chest tubes, much smaller than my husband’s hands that are cupped around her. For us, and even for Holly, who is 2 and a half- we only see our child.
Yes- mama. You’re a mother now. In the disorienting cloud of dust left behind by the explosion that just went off around you, it was impossible to congratulate yourself. You are “mom”. Despite the nature of this place- a place where there is no privacy, a place where you must have permission and assistance to hold your baby, a place where mothering is hard- know that he is yours. You know best, even when you feel you know nothing. No one can do it better than you.
Recently, my husband and I went to the NICU family support group to tell them our story and to show them how well Poppy is doing. During our NICU stay, those were our favorite meetings. Seeing a NICU graduate thriving post-NICU gave us hope and assured us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After we told them Poppy’s story, the first questions the parents asked had to do with our NICU stay and how we made it through.
Now you have a baby that was born too soon. No one can understand what you are going through other than other NICU parents. This is not for the weak. You become more medically versed than you ever expected in your life and you literally watch the tiniest human you have ever seen fight for their life. You assume your family and friends will understand what you are going through automatically and that they will know the type of support that you need, but that really is not the case. Instead things can be said or done that hurt you because they do not realize what things you might be sensitive to now that you are a NICU mommy or daddy. I call this the NICU Insensitivity.