NICU Milestones: The Joy of the First Hold

September 21, 2020
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The first time holding your NICU baby is a precious moment that you will never forget. Whether you’ve waited hours, days, or even weeks or months to hold your baby, this milestone is one to hold on to forever. We’re grateful to celebrate these milestones with NICU families to commemorate NICU Awareness Month.

NICU baby first hold

I remember feeling so many emotions. I was thankful my baby was stable, but I felt uncertain for how our journey was going to go, and I felt an overwhelming sense of love. 

The first time Eli’s dad held him, it was heartwarming to see. My husband was so happy, so nervous, so full of love for him. He had to wait a week to be able to do this and he was so overwhelmed with joy and felt like he had to make up for lost bonding time.

Amy P., Illinois, mom to Eli, born at 34 weeks 4 days

This picture means so much to us. I waited nine hours to meet and hold Esmé. I had lost so much blood and later needed a blood transfusion, but I had to meet my girl, no matter how I felt. This is my only happy memory from that day and I will cherish it forever. 

Kailee H., Texas, mom to Esme, born at 31 weeks

NICU baby first hold

This was the first time I held her and I was so scared I was going to hurt her. Thankfully, the NICU nurse reassured me that my baby new my heartbeat and voice. That was my first time feeling like a mom.

Lucy S., Texas, mom to Amelia Grace, born at 29 weeks

NICU baby first hold

First hold by her older sister was very emotional. Crystal (14 years old at the time) was so excited and happy. She was my companion after delivery at 34 weeks, 5 days and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. She was truly amazing. Berenice was 5 pounds, 9 ounces at birth. She stayed in the NICU for 18 days due to her jaundice and not wanting to feed properly.

I remember Crystal being super nervous and happy. She held Berenice as if she was going to break. I was super nervous too, but it was one of the best moments, seeing my older child who was also born at 34 weeks but 14 years ago, holding her little sister…very emotional.

Dennys D., Texas, mom to Berenice, born at 34 weeks, 5 days

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I remember from the moment I had her how different it was from a normal birth. We did not get to hold her until she was exactly one month old. She was still little and intubated, but we took turns: me one night and my girlfriend the next night. It was amazing how she just fell asleep right in our arms. It was one of the most rewarding experiences for both of us and always a moment I will cherish.

Kelly M., Oklahoma, mom to Hazel, born at 26 weeks

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This was the first time my husband got to hold our son in the NICU. This is the night Michael was born and once my husband could wheel me over to visit. Though we were nowhere near ready to go home, I remember us both feeling immense relief that Michael had come out breathing. These were our first calm moments after days filled with stress and anxiety after my water broke early. This was the first time we were a family.

Anne B., Texas, mom to Michael Harrison, born at 33 weeks, 4 days

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This was the first day I got to do skin-to-skin. As an adoptive parent, getting to do skin-to-skin was important to me to start to form a bond with my baby. I was overjoyed and so emotional. I will never forget my joy in that moment. Having my tiny baby on my chest, letting him hear my heart beat for the first time.

Kristy L., Texas, mom to Kevin, born at 29 weeks

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I got to hold Will about 36 hours after he was born. I remember the nurse asked me if I wanted to and I was terrified. She was so gentle and confident and helped me feel less intimidated by all his tubes and wires. His entrance in to the world had been very abrupt and I was still in shock from it all. It was a profound and healing moment; one that started our NICU journey and has shaped me as his mother.

Emily B., Texas, mom to William, born at 32 weeks, 3 days

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The first hold was bitter sweet. I remember thinking how I would remember that moment for the rest of my life. I felt so blessed she was here and also heartbroken I had to do it alone because of covid. I just looked at her while praying and crying the whole hour.

Kristin T., Texas, mom to Stephanie Marie

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The first skin-to-skin was so surreal. It was a little over a week after he was born, and I couldn’t wait to hold him. When the day came, everyone was so excited for me, but honestly, I felt different emotions than I was anticipating. While I wanted to celebrate this milestone, instead of joy and excitement, I felt nervous and stoic. He looked like a little alien, and he was so fragile. He didn’t look like a baby, like the 37+ weekers around him. It wasn’t for another 4-5 weeks that I really started to feel the motherly love that everyone talks about. 

Angela B., Texas, mom to Levi, born at 26 weeks, 4 days.

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The first hold was so precious to me for each girl, as it was delayed. We were able to hold Hadley at 3 days old. She was so small and seemed so fragile, I remember being afraid to pick her up initially. Both my husband and I were able to hold her that day. 

With Hannah, I was not sure when we would be able to hold her. She was intubated and had multiple lines and drains, pretty much one in every limb. On day 12 her night nurse came in and asked if I wanted to hold her. I was super surprised but so, so happy. I remember it being a bit of a process, it took 3 nurses to transfer her from her isolette to my chest. I felt such relief and joy at being able to hold her finally.

Holding them together took a little longer, and again I was surprised when the nurse offered it up. It was wonderful to have them both together after being separated in their isolettes for a few weeks. Hannah was still intubated, so her face was not towards Hadley but she kept trying to turn her her head.

Samantha C., Ohio, mom to Hadley and Hannah, born at 31 weeks, 1 day

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This is our first family photo, which is my first time holding (really, meeting) my baby. I love this photo for it’s raw emotion and remember that day so well – both fondly and no quite so. The beginning of the rollercoaster. I felt so disconnected from it all. My husband knew everything about our child and the NICU, and I knew absolutely nothing. This was all about 38 hours after he was born. I’d just gotten my IV and catheter out and been allowed out of bed for the first time. I did not shower or pass go – just right to the NICU. At this point, we hadn’t yet named him, as I thought it was important to meet him first. Shortly after this photo we had a chat and decided that Jackson was a good name for him.

Jenni K., Oregon, mom to Jackson, born at 28 weeks

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Celebrate the milestones.
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