I see you being pushed in a wheelchair through the NICU door with a glazed look in your eyes that could only be a mixture of love, shock, and the most immense emotional and physical pain a mother could experience. You are carrying a small bottle of your "liquid gold" with you for the little one you haven't met yet.
I know it will be heart-wrenching to see your baby this way but this is where they need to be right now. This is where miracles can happen.
Your baby may look smaller and frailer than you had imagined. It might be hard to see their cute little face because they will have so many tubes attached to them to help them breathe and grow, giving baby the support your body once provided.
You will hear a lot of medical terminology like CPAP, NG tube, apnea, Brady's, hematocrit levels, and residuals. It all will probably seem so overwhelming at first, but before you know it, you will understand what they all mean.
You will learn to trust your doctors and nurses who will quickly feel like your second family. You will be so impressed by their competency and guidance and most of all the compassion they show you and your child. I am telling you—they are truly angels on earth.
Mama, I don't know you but I want to be there for you.
I want to comfort you, but the feelings you are probably feeling (that I once felt) are almost impossible to put into words.
I want you to know that I am with you and so are all the other NICU mamas who have come before you.
I want to tell you that everything is going to be okay and things will get better—and it will, but just not right now—not yet.
I want to tell you that this will be one of the most challenging journeys of your life but I know you can do it and you will come out the other side of that NICU door—even stronger and even more grateful than ever.
You will find strength in unexpected moments when you least expect it.
Your experience with your precious baby will be one that, at times, can feel like it is breaking you into a million pieces—but I promise that feeling is just the start of your transformation into a stronger, wiser, humbler version of yourself.
There will be mornings where it will feel like a battle to just get out of bed. You may sit and cry in the shower or your car feeling like you want to stay there forever. Please don't feel guilty. It's okay to experience these feelings— I have been there too.
During those dark times, think of your little warrior. Think about how hard they fight, even when they are tired and sick. Your baby will give you unbelievable strength—the strength that you need to get up out of bed, to feed your baby be it by breast pump or by researching the best formula for them, and walk through that NICU door day after day.
Your baby will inspire you and help you through this as you support them on their journey to becoming the most amazing little person you have ever met.
I do want to tell you that there will also be so many of the other times— the really good times. The times where your heart will have never have felt so full. The times when you hold your baby and look into their precious eyes and all will feel right in the world.
You will watch their tiny frail body transform from wrinkles to chub, and you will cherish every roll with all of your heart. Through this journey, you will constantly be challenged to put things in perspective and this will give you both clarity and a sense of calm—but most of all it will make you feel so grateful for your little fighter.
This experience, as hard as it is, will provide you with a greater sense of self and of the world. Your child will teach you what really matters in life—an understanding that only those who have witnessed such miracles could possibly have. You will no longer take anything for granted. You will see the importance and beauty of health, family, and being able to watch your child grow. You will become the strongest of women. You will be a warrior.
Keep your head up, mama. And remember—you are never alone.
Your Fellow NICU Mama