From the moment I first laid eyes on my tiny one pounder baby girl, I wrestled with many emotions that caused me to question whether or not I deserved to be a mom. Of course, I did everything ‘right’. I took prenatals, ate right, and followed the doctor’s instructions when she put me on hospital bed rest later in the pregnancy. But something about meeting your baby for the first time through an incubator window makes you pull inward, question yourself.
I was an overwhelmed first time mom. We also happened to be spending Mother’s Day in the NICU. It was a bittersweet thing. I remember my grandmother taking off her ring with a fuchsia stone on it (we associate fuchsia with our daughter), and she slipped it on my finger, as I sat beside her in Sunday service that one and only Sunday we went to church while Jenna was in the NICU. She has a strong Spanish accent, but in her own way she made me feel more like a mom than I’d felt since day one. The NICU nurses were great. My family was doing everything that they could, but maybe my grandmother could see that I wasn’t fully celebrating the fact that I was a mom.
I probably wasn’t either. I was trying to survive and keep up with all the information the doctors and nurses were throwing at us. But it was something to celebrate. Regardless of how early she might have come into this world, she still made me a mom. And for that, I am so grateful.
If there is a NICU mom in your life, please be sure to take a few moments to encourage her to celebrate the fact that she is a mother. Even if it’s not on or around Mother’s Day. Send her a “congratulations on your new baby” card. Do you know that it is a rare thing for parents of NICU babies to receive these?
Some ways to celebrate a mom in the NICU (keep in mind that there are many limitations when babies are in the neonatal ICU, so be sure to check with the hospital’s standards ahead of time):
– mail her a Mother’s Day card, or Congratulations card
– send her a bouquet of flowers
– send her some chocolate covered strawberries
– gift her with a scrapbook kit, with stickers and fun letters, to help her pass the time in the NICU
– gift her with a Starbucks card, or gift card to a nearby restaurant
– send her a text message, wishing her a happy Mother’s Day
– gift her with a parking pass (some hospitals actually make patients and parents of NICU babies pay for parking, sadly)
– bring her a home cooked meal up to the hospital
– offer to sit by her baby, so she can get a new hair cut, nails done or something frivolous
– gift her with an iTunes card (these are so handy!)
… and again, these are only suggestions.
However you choose to do it, celebrating the mother whose baby is spending days, weeks or even months in the NICU will not go unnoticed.