I know I’ve been talking a ton about the NICU but, the NICU is what our lives revolve around for now. So, I’m not sorry. If I don’t write it out, I’ll hold it in and that’s not good for any of us. So, here it goes… another fun fact about NICU…
The NICU whether you’re there feeding, holding, changing babies…the NICU whether you’re home trying to spend time with your older children…the NICU regardless of your babies age, gender or how sick they are… leaves you feeling extremely guilty.
NICU guilt is so real. You feel guilty for being there. You feel guilty for not being home. You feel guilty for the hundreds of pictures you’re taking because then where are the pictures of your older children? You feel guilty just napping. I feel guilty for almost everything I do these days. Hell, I even made it through my first day of not visiting the boys and that, that was ridiculously hard.
Yesterday, what I felt most guilty about was the boys simply being born. I feel guilty that my body failed them. That I couldn’t hold them inside even for just two more weeks. Are they doing great? YES! But, if I had just held them in for two more weeks maybe, just maybe, we could have gone home without a NICU stay. I had heard so many stories from co-workers, I had read all of these articles online about making it to just 34 weeks. And I couldn’t do that. The guilt kicked in pretty damn hard this morning when the nurse offered to take our first “family” photo. We aren’t a complete family in this picture. Not to mention the pure exhaustion that shows all over our faces. Am I grateful we have a memory? Of course I am! I just don’t want to show the girls because they’re struggling too.
Now, before you start commenting and giving me advice let’s talk about something. The guilt I’m feeling is so similar to grief. It comes in waves, crashing in to me. I drown for a few minutes and then I come back to the surface, bury it back down and continue on with my day. Grief hits me the same way, especially when it comes to my dad. Like grief, you can tell a person, “I’m so sorry, I know how you feel, let me know if you need anything”. However, none of that helps. I’m not asking for help because right now, I have it covered. I’m not asking for sympathy, I just want to get this out so I’m not constantly drowning. And most of all, every person who has either experienced life in the NICU or that of having a child who has experienced sickness such as cancer, experiences this differently. Kindly, we don’t know how we each feel but, hell yes we can relate.
If you’re a new to NICU mom, here’s a few things I like to do to relieve the guilt.
- Call Any Time. The NICU is full of nurses and doctors who completely understand that you can’t be there 24/7. They don’t mind when you call, they’re happy to answer questions and they’re there around the clock. If you feel too guilty, give them a call!
- Take All The Pictures. Take the damn picture! This journey is unique, and documenting it..the good, the bad and the ugly is beneficial.
- Find An Outlet. For me, my outlet is this blog. I get to keep a digital notebook so to speak about our boys journey. This is my way of letting it all out, to complete strangers, to family, to friends, to anyone reading this right now.
- Rest. I know, I know. I’m contradicting myself. I rest… I promise I do. But, between pumping, insomnia and my girls there’s almost no time to sleep. However, rest is essential to your well being. Rest mama. Trust and believe you’re baby is in the best hands.
There’s no better feeling than knowing that eventually my boys will be home, until then I’m going to ride out all of this guilt. I’m going to use this blog as my outlet. I’m going to spend time with my girls (thank you fall break!) and I’m going to enjoy my boys in the evening this week. The guilt may come every single day, but my mom strength is year round!