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15 thoughts a NICU mom has that she can’t always tell you

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Dear Mama,

I know how you feel. You suddenly find yourself looking into that clear glass case holding your tiny newborn in the NICU, wondering, How did this happen?


You are not alone. It happened to me, too. I was unprepared and in a state of shock.

Here are some of the thoughts I had in the days that followed having my premature baby.

1. This was not part of my plan.

My first son was born on time and I clearly remember walking the halls of the hospital, passing by the NICU and shuddering at the thought of my baby being in there. It was a thought that quickly passed—because, of course, I would never have to worry about having a NICU baby. My deliveries would be easy and end in healthy babies.

2. Is this my fault?

I asked myself this question often. Did I have him early because I danced in my room the night before my placental abruption? Did I eat too much gluten? Did I miss a clue? The list of self judgement goes on.

The answer is, no. It was not my fault and it is not your fault either. You did nothing wrong.

One in ten babies a year in the U.S. is born prematurely and although many medical advancements have been made to save babies born early, the numbers of babies born prematurely in the U.S. have unfortunately increased in the last year. Much more research needs to be done, and usually the doctors will not be able to tell you exactly why this happened to you.

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3. I’m scared.

This is to be expected. It is a terrifying experience and I am truly sorry that you have to endure this. You will get through it, I promise.

4. I’m angry.

I understand how you feel. You feel like everyone else outside of the NICU on the labor and delivery floor is smiling and laughing and taking home their healthy newborn. An overwhelming feeling of anger and helplessness can take over when we feel powerless and afraid. I remember constantly flipping between feeling terrified and angry that this happened.

5. Will my baby live?

My biggest fear was that I would lose my precious angel. From the second you are told you will have your baby early, you will have to deal with a roller coaster of emotions—the scariest being that you don’t know what to expect.

All I can say is, I have bonded with many NICU mamas since our experience, and most of them (like myself) walked out of the hospital with a healthy miracle baby. The doctors and nurses in the NICU are incredible and your baby is in good hands.

6. I detest the NICU.

I love the NICU now, but didn’t always. The NICU is scary and no one will blame you for not loving this experience. The sounds of alarms and ventilators may haunt you for months after.

You did not want your baby to end up here and might even hate the NICU, since you don’t know how your baby’s story will end. But I can assure you that you will love at least one nurse or doctor who ends up caring for, loving and nurturing your baby back to health. And years after, you will remember that more than anything else.

7. I want to fast forward time.

I dreamt of the day my baby would be three and the NICU would be a distant memory.

I’m there now. You will be too.

8. I am grateful.

Of course anger, sadness and fear are the common emotions you will feel when experiencing something so traumatic. But I was also surprised by how happy and grateful I felt.

I was grateful for every day that my boy was alive.

I was grateful for the time I had snuggling him in the NICU.

I was grateful for the NICU mama friends I made in the pumping room who I still call friends today.

I was grateful for the extraordinary doctors and nurses who knew how to care for my child and give him the strength he needed.

And mostly I was grateful for my baby, who became my little hero.

9. I wish someone would tell me that it’s going to be okay.

Everything will be okay.

This is one of the hardest times you will ever face, but healing from trauma can lead to strength and joy.

10. What about me?

I need to be taken care of. Even something as simple as a mani-pedi, massage, bowl of ice cream, trashy magazines, food deliveries—absolutely anything to feel loved and supported. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need and deserve.

You’re scared and need five minutes to not think about the fact that your baby is in the NICU. Send this article to your family and friends and let them know that you need support.

11. At least I can sleep.

Okay, this experience is awful but on the bright side, you can sleep through the night while your baby is being cared for in the hospital. Of course you would rather that he could be with you, but you really do need all the rest you can get right now so your body and mind can heal from your unexpected birth experience.

12. All I do is pump.

I know. The pump is your BFF right now. It may feel like all you do is pump when you’re not with your baby.

Pump as often as you can! At some point sooner than you realize, they will start eating ferociously and it feels so good to have that milk stored up for them.

13. My baby is my hero.

I read a quote once about being a parent of a preemie that summed it up perfectly.

“Some days I am very uncertain if I was made for this. Then I remember, you were made just for me. If you can do it, than there is no need to have my head down.”

14. I’m stronger than I thought.

…right?!

15. I will never, ever be the same.

You’ve got this, mama. ?

With love,

A survivor and fellow NICU mama

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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