What did you think about most when you were pregnant? What were your biggest dreams for you and your baby?
Life will be full of ups and downs. It will be one tough ride. But your love for your child will be the anchor that will see you through it all…
How did you envision bringing your baby home from the hospital? Dressing your sweet bundle of joy up in the perfectly picked home going outfit? Photo ops from the first car ride home? Coming home to a house decorated with welcome home and congratulations signs?
Facing Your Biggest Fears
What is your biggest fear as a parent? Your child will be ill, injured, or disabled? You won’t be able to protect your child? You’ll have no control over what will happen to your child? Your child might not make it through the night?
Now imagine your most important dreams crushed and your greatest fears staring you in the face.
NICU moms deal with this every single moment of every single day.
What I Have Learned About NICU Moms
Our bodies are designed to shut down during times of stress. A NICU mom
can’t won’t shut down. She is on the most difficult journey of her life, and she is all in.
A NICU mom needs to care for her ravaged post-partum body. She needs to heal emotionally from a very traumatic birth. She has to be a wife or partner. Or, if she is a single mom, she might be doing this all on her own. She might have other children at home who desperately need their mommy. She might live far from the NICU and not have reliable transportation. She likely has a long list of other stressors happening at the same time her baby is fighting for his or her life in the NICU.
Powerless Yet So Powerful
A NICU mom has to care for her baby in the sterile and foreign environment of the NICU. She has to trust other people to care for and save her baby. She has to trust a perfect stranger to care for her baby when she can’t.
A NICU mom gives up control and basic mothering instincts to perfect strangers.
She sees her baby, her own flesh and blood, hooked up to tubes, wires, monitors, and machines. She watches procedures that cause pain and anxiety for her baby, and exponentially more for herself.
Depleted But Ready to Take on the Day
What new mom isn’t already exhausted and brain foggy? Imagine being exhausted and brain foggy in the stressful environment of the NICU, and having to make really difficult decisions.
Did you plan to breastfeed when you were pregnant? Did you envision staring down at a sweet cherub looking baby suckling away at your breast? A NICU mom stares down at a pump. Instead of responding to her baby’s cries, she sets an alarm every 3 hours to remind her to pump. She wakes up in the middle of the night to do this. She might do this for months before her baby is ready to eat on his or her own.
Are you a working parent? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? So much to manage. Imagine juggling work, family, and life in the NICU. Instead of going home to a nice warm meal and a comfortable couch at the end of a long day, a NICU mom goes to the cold, dark, sterile hospital to spend the rest of her evening.
We all have it, the never-ending mommy guilt. Whenever anything goes wrong, deep down we all blame ourselves. Do you ever feel that pang of guilt when you drop your child off at the sitter or daycare? Is it sometimes harder for you to pull away? Imagine saying goodbye to your very sick and fragile baby every single night.
This is only scratching the surface of what a NICU mom goes through every single day. And each day, she gets up, and she does it. She handles lots of things, and she doesn’t shut down. She is a fighter. She advocates for her baby. She is a warrior mom.
I am not a NICU mom, but I have the privilege of knowing many of them. They are the most amazing women I know. I am honored and humbled to support NICU moms and be a small part of their journey.
Love Conquers Fear
As an Occupational Therapist in the NICU, it is my job to help parents learn how to support their babies developmental and feeding skills, but I am the one who learns something new and invaluable every single day. I have learned no matter how many times a heart breaks, it keeps pumping and pouring out love. I am reminded how strong and powerful moms are. I notice how beautiful a stressed out, exhausted, post-partum mom is when she touches, holds and snuggles her baby. I am truly inspired by how moms can thrive in the most stressful environments. I am always reminded of how love conquers fear.
A Real Mom:Emotional, yet the rock.Tired, but keeps going.Worried, but full of hope.Impatient, yet patient.Overwhelmed, but never quits.Amazing, even though doubted.Wonderful, even in the chaos.Life changer, every single day.
~ Rachel Martin FindingJoy.net