This is a special guest post by Trish Ringley, RN and founder of NICU Central and Every Tiny Thing.
Without a doubt, the NICU is a place of stress and disappointment. Sure, it can be wonderful & sweet, with adorable babies & hopeful parents, but let’s be real – often it’s a total downer.
Personally, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, lost, and in need of some cheer, I like getting inspiration from others. And on behalf of NICU parents, I love to collect quotes that bring a little insight and encouragement during the difficult days.
These are my top ten favorites. I hope they bring YOU a little bit of joy, comfort and insight:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ian Maclaren
Be kind to yourself, because you truly are fighting a hard battle – you deserve kindness and compassion. While you are in the NICU, others may say thoughtless or hurtful things. They may forget the hard battle you are fighting or they may not know how to show kindness. But you can remind yourself to go easy on yourself.
Also, be kind to your partner, for they are going through this too – differently, and maybe not in a way that you want or like – but they, too, are struggling through this and need your kindness.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know it’s hard to be thankful for the NICU. It’s stressful at a minimum, unbearable in other situations. But I see this as a nice reminder to pay attention to the good things that DO come, because even during the NICU there surely ARE SOME bits of good. Seek them out, celebrate them and be thankful for them.
“You can complain because roses have thorns or you can be grateful that thorn bushes have roses.” -T Wilson
There is so much that is painful about the NICU, but keep the focus on the fact that your baby is here, is getting the best care possible, and your sweet little one is beautiful. Yours. This whole awful experience is here because of a truly wonderful reason – your sweet child. The parents who navigate this journey most successfully find ways to have gratitude even in the thorniest of situations.
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” – Helen Keller
This NICU experience surely teaches every parent who experiences it a whole bunch of lessons that they never wanted. But trust that you are growing, as a parent and as a person, by living through this ordeal. Remembering that this is a life lesson – one that you can’t appreciate now, but will make sense in time – can make it a little easier to bear. Just a little.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” -C. Joyce Bell
The power behind your emotions right now is because of your love as a parent. While that makes it so much harder, it also makes it so worth it. There is a lot of fear for many NICU parents. There’s no getting around it. But try not to see it as your enemy, see it as a sign of your powerful love, and honor yourself as a parent who loves deeply.
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ~Joshua J. Marine
I bet you would rather not have this kind of interesting in your life, right? But the truth is, we rarely get to choose nice or wonderful challenges, or else they wouldn’t be all that challenging!
This is a challenge, without a doubt. But look at ways to grow, look for ways to overcome this pain, and you may find meaning in this struggle. For some parents, it might mean making new friends to support each other. For other parents, it might mean finally seeking a therapist to talk with, to help with the depression. For some, it might mean writing in a journal, for some it might mean asking for help. All of these things may help you overcome your pain, and all of them in the end will help make your life richer.
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’” -Audrey Hepburn
It’s just so sweet and so true. It’s light and positive and it’s a great one to repeat, like a mantra, when you’re feeling down. Even the darkest moments, the worst pain, there are possibilities within it. Seek them.
“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey
It is SO easy, in the NICU, to dwell on all that you don’t have – healthy pregnancy, full term pregnancy, healthy baby at home, etc. But the truth is that right now, what you do have is what you have, and so look at what good IS there. You’ll find more of it when you look for it.
For example, here are some positives you might find: A 5 gram weight gain? A decrease in oxygen requirement today? You pumped some life-saving milk for your baby?
Don’t discredit how important and wonderful these small things are!
“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” Bob Marley
So true, so true in the NICU. You have no choice right now, because if you did you would never choose this. But give yourself credit for being as strong as you are right now. Other parents are amazed, and while it may annoy you to hear “you’re so strong” because you don’t want to be strong right now, the truth is you are getting through, one day at a time, getting through an incredibly challenging experience. Give yourself that credit and be proud of yourself. You deserve some props.
“Always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” -A. A. Milne
This quote is one of my all-time favorites for NICU babies, but it’s equally wonderful for NICU parents. Believe in yourself. You are doing your very best, and it is good enough. You will make it through this journey having learned hard but important lessons, and your family will be wonderful exactly the way it is.