I’ll never forget the punch to the stomach I felt as the kind, but firm NICU nurse looked me in the eye and said: “I’m sorry, but you cannot hold your babies right now. What’s best for them is to be left alone.”
“Fine.” I snapped. “But I’m not leaving the NICU.”
She gently smiled and said, “I understand. I’ll leave you to sit with them, but please don’t pick them up.”
I sat in that chair and I cried as quietly as I could (so that the “mean” nurse wouldn’t hear how broken-hearted I was) for an hour and a half.
That was the moment that I fully realized what it meant to be a NICU mom.
I “knew” the risks of a twin pregnancy so I “knew” this might happen. I had been briefed in the hours leading up to the delivery of my sweet twin girls, but in that moment I fully realized the seriousness of the girls being born seven weeks early.
That was the beginning of our three week journey in the NICU. I’m thankful we weren’t there longer than that, but no matter how long your stay is, it is a journey that only another NICU mom will understand.
Understand what it feels like to pump tirelessly because it’s the one thing that only you can do for your baby.
what it feels like to always live in dread of the beeping from their monitors.
what it is to exhaust yourself so that you are as available as you possibly can be for your babies.
what it is to feel helpless in the care of your babies.
what it is to feel anger you were not the one to give the first bath or the first diaper change.
what it is to feel like you can’t bond with your babies because you don’t think they even know you’re their mother.
what it is to fear they will love their nurse more than you.
what it feels like to hear that something has gone wrong.
what it is to be consumed with guilt. To feel like there is something you could have done to keep them “in” just a little bit longer.
And I wish I could give you some magic answer. Some bit of wisdom that would make it all better.
But what I can do is tell you that you’re not alone. That I’ve been there and that I know how you feel.
And I can tell you that you’ll be okay.
Maybe not for awhile, but you will.
And I want you to know that it’s okay to feel everything.
It’s okay to feel joy and sadness and fear and anger all in one breath.
And above all else I want to remind you that you are their mother. In every way. In every sense of the word.
Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if it looks different than you imagined.
So I leave you with this, dear NICU mom:
You are the best thing for your child. You are. Nothing can change that.
Until next time,