When I think about our time in the NICU, I honestly get blown away by how we stayed so long in the NICU. I see a lot of people who complain about their babies being in the NICU or the hospital after they are born and then it states …. “I can’t believe my baby has been in the hospital for 4 days, it is so hard,” and to be honest it makes me a little bitter. I am not saying you can’t complain because I know it’s hard and I know it isn’t the situation any of us want to face but the fact that someone complains about 4 days sometimes rubs me the wrong way. I want to shout, “Try 305 days and then tell me how it feels.” Then after I sit there and think about my stay. I think about the stay that all the other parents out there are going through, when their kids are 5 and still in the hospital needing around-the-clock care and may never get to go home, and then I feel like the worst preemie parent ever.
I say this because this is the time when we all need to stand up and stay positive together. The whole time we were in the NICU we didn’t have really any support besides, of course, our friends and family. We didn’t have a group like Hand to Hold where we could go and look for information or find another preemie parent who went through a similar situation that we were going through. I wish with all my heart that we had a group like that because I think it would have made our stay a little easier than it was. There are so many struggles that we go through in the NICU stay and it would have been nice to hear just one person say “We have been there and here is what happened,” and that may have eased our minds a little bit.
The best day in the NICU besides getting to take our babies home was the first day we got to hold our girls. This seems so crazy and insignificant but the fact is, it was huge. When I had the girls I was put to sleep so there was no, “Here are your babies,” and they put them on my chest. No way, no how was I going to be able to hold my babies for the first time the day they were born. In fact it was going to be much later when we got to hold them for the first time. Most mommies get the pleasure of holding their child for the first time right then and there, but for Matt and me it was about 6 weeks after they were born. Our girls were still going through a lot and touch was still very unfamiliar and unwelcome at the time we were able to hold them. We weren’t told about Kangaroo care and never got to do it. The first time we held the girls we decided we would each get to hold one because they were still so fragile and were only allowed out of their incubators for around 10 minutes. Matt held Brooke and I got to hold Kendall. When she put Kendall in my arms, I just started crying. It was the best feeling in the world but it was also super scary. Kendall only weighed 1.4 lbs at birth and wasn’t much heavier when I got to hold her. I have told everyone and still to this day tell everyone she felt like a bowl of ice cream. All her weight was in her head, however, all her weight was from the huge contraption they had on her head known as the CPAP.
At this time of year I just ask that we all join together and really thank each person that is surrounding us and helped us through our NICU as well as the Hand to Hold team because we really are making a difference whether we know it or not. There are people out there going through things we have already gone through and it is so supportive to help others out and spread our love and our words so we can let others know they aren’t alone in this process.
If you’re looking for a mentor, please reach out to Hand to Hold today and request support. We’re here to help!