The Moment I Started Breathing Again After My Traumatic Birth Experience & NICU Stay

July 5, 2021

“Many judged harshly or didn’t understand, so they left us alone rather than offer support.”

NICU baby, NICU mom, full term NICU baby, birth trauma

Photo courtesy Courtney S.

by Courtney S.

Our daughter was rushed to the NICU hours after being born. She was born at 41 weeks, after a perfect, healthy, normal pregnancy. We were thrown into a life-and-death situation with zero information and zero support. I never even knew what a patient advocate was, so obviously didn’t know to ask for one. My husband had to go back to work immediately, and I was all alone dealing with everything in the NICU, plus trying to heal myself from a very hard, unmediated birth experience.

Another NICU parent snapped a photo for me one day, capturing the moment I was able to hold my daughter for the first time. I was alone that day in the NICU and wasn’t able to touch or hold her for a full three days after she was born. So this sweet father asked if I’d like a picture. That moment was such a blessing.

That first year of her life and my first year of being a mommy was incredibly hard, as no one in our family or friends circle had any experience with what we went through. Many judged harshly or didn’t understand, so they left us alone rather than offer support.

NICU grad, hand to hold, NICU support

Photo courtesy Courtney S.

When my daughter was 6 months old, a friend forwarded an article from Hand to Hold about feelings NICU moms go through. I still can feel that sigh of relief when I read that article. It validated everything I was feeling. Thinking back now it was so much more than a sigh of relief – it was more like I took my first breath and actually started breathing again after everything I’d gone through.

I snapped this picture during some weekend family time. She found a four-leaf-clover. Our daughter was born naturally, entirely inside her amniotic sac. Our midwife, who happened to be Irish (as are we), was so excited, sharing with us that in Irish culture that kind of birth is deemed to be the highest form of luck. She’s definitely our lucky girl!

Hand to Hold absolutely was a light for me, and still continues to shine in those NICU shadows that don’t seem to leave you, to bring peace and comfort to a time of pain and confusion.


Hand to hold app, app for NICU parentsAnnouncing the Hand to Hold mobile app and online community, a safe and inviting environment to connect with hand to Hold Family Support Specialists and other NICU parents to find support whenever and wherever you need it. Learn more.