When you have a traumatic event in your life, you will feel a variety of feelings. It is no different when you have a baby in the NICU. For my wife and I, we felt the entire gamut of feelings. There was fear, anger, sadness, uncertainty, with a little bit of surprise and joy sprinkled in.
Because our NICU was a “bay” style NICU, we were able to observe other families who were going through the same situation we were. However, every baby’s situation was different. Some babies situations were better than my son’s, and some babies were worse. At times, we would find ourselves comparing our son’s situation to other babies. It was human nature to do so. This brought upon a different myriad of feelings.
There were times where we would feel so bad for the other babies and their parents. We would feel guilty that our baby, fighting incredible odds for his own life, was doing better than others. We would feel guilty for being grateful that our baby was still with us, while others were slowly being called to Heaven. And in turn, we would feel guilty for feeling guilty. Then there was the other side of the coin.
The babies that were not in as serious condition as our baby. We felt happy for those babies and their parents as they made the small milestones babies make in the NICU like eating for the first time or moving from an isolette to an open crib. We did feel happy, but we also felt a tiny bit of envy for those family. Of course we wanted our son to make the same milestones, but every baby in the NICU has his own time table, one that you cannot control.
For a while, I thought I was wrong for having these feelings. I was embarrassed to talk about it, because I thought it made me look selfish. Finally, I had a heart-to-heart with a social worker from the NICU. She explained to me that us as parents of a NICU baby, we have the right to feel the way we were feeling, and there are no wrong feelings. I learned then it was okay to have those feelings, and I spent less time using precious energy trying to figure out if they were wrong.
Having a baby in the NICU is a very difficult journey and will come with a multitude of feelings and emotions, and you have the right to feel and experience every one of them!