Nothing can really prepare you for having a baby in the NICU. I never would have thought that I would be a preemie mom. I didn’t have any signs of preterm labor.
Then my water broke, out of the blue at 31 weeks pregnant. I was confused, mad, and sad. Why did this happen to me? What’s wrong with my body that I couldn’t keep her in? Inside of me is where she’s safe and healthy.
At 34 weeks, I was induced after being on hospital bed rest. I knew my baby would be in the NICU. I was able to discuss labor, birth, and my daughter’s hospital stay with my doctors, nurses, and her neonatologists.
But…I didn’t feel prepared.
Nothing really prepares you because nobody knows how she will be once she gets on the outside. I didn’t know if she would take a bottle or my breast from the start. I didn’t know if she would need breathing support. I didn’t know what she would weigh. I didn’t know if she would cry right after birth.
Then she was born. She was in the NICU for 12 days. When I tell people that they say “well, that’s not too long”, and they are correct. A lot of moms suffer from the pain of having a NICU baby for much longer, but no matter how long the stay is it feels like forever. In fact, comments like that are NOT helpful, so please don’t say them to any mom.
Instead of recovering from birth, I was driving back and forth 45 minutes to see my baby. I was leaving my 2 year old son behind with someone else. The house was messy. I lived on fast food and cafeteria food. I watched my daughter have one good day followed by two bad ones. I pumped every 3 hours around the clock. I spent so much time away from my husband, and I was constantly lonely for him.
I didn’t feel very supported. I didn’t really have anyone. My husband was already back to work by the time our daughter came home, so I just jumped into life with two after days and days of back and forth.
I ended up developing post partum depression and anxiety. I used to think this would never happen to me, but here I am 4 months later struggling every day.
I guess I’ve learned that after a regular, full term birth, a journey with a baby in the NICU is SO much more difficult.
ALL moms need support, love, and kindness, but I just wanted to focus a little of the pain I felt with my preemie baby. I know I’m not alone in this.
Please feel free to share your own stories with me. I want to support moms in their beautiful and painful moments. We know we all we need more love, especially as moms.