Finding Friendship in the NICU

February 3, 2016

One of the best things that happened to me while my girls were in the NICU was meeting another NICU mom. It’s hard to believe anything good can come from the NICU, but it is true.

I saw her several times around the NICU and one day my mother happened to start up a conversation with her in one of the family waiting areas. She learned that our situations were very similar. We both had micro-preemies born three months early. She introduced us and we quickly discovered we had a lot in common.

Family and friends will try to identify with what you are going through while you and your baby are in the NICU. You may hear others say, “I know someone that has a friend who had a preemie and they are now six feet tall and got straight A’s in school.” Or you might hear, “my child was in the NICU for two days so I totally know what you are going through.” People mean well, but it’s a lived experience and difficult for the average person to understand.  While any NICU stay is unsettling, unless you’ve spent week after week, or in my case month after month at the NICU with your baby, you’ll have a hard time understanding what it is like. Friends and family will show great concern and it’s obvious they care, but if you really want to talk to someone that will understand, talk to other parents you see spending lots of time around the NICU.

Meeting my fellow NICU mom Anna helped me make it through our journey.  She understood the many ups and downs and twists in the road. I didn’t have to spend time explaining what each test or procedure meant that my girls had. She already knew because she had experienced it too. She understood some days are good and some days are bad. She understood that the smallest little moments in the NICU were sometimes the big deals ever.

It’s been three years now and Anna and I speak every week. We check in on each other and try our best to get our children together to play as often as we can. Anna loves my girls and she knows what fighters they are because she was there from the start.

Three preemies at the beach.

Three preemies at the beach.

If you are in the NICU now start up a conversation with another parent you see. I promise it’ll be worth it. You don’t have to become lifelong friends, but it’ll be comforting to you just knowing that there are other people going through something similar than you. You are not alone. Talk to someone who is going through it too. It just may be the support you are looking for.

If there aren’t many parents around, I recommend asking some of the NICU nurses if they know any parents that would be worth talking to. They may be able to connect you with someone.