5 Reasons A Nicu Parent May Be Grieving, And How You Can Help

1. She’s grieving the fact that there’s a chance her child may not make it

Talk about your faith being tested. When a doctor looks at you and tells you that you child may not make it through the next 24 hours or that they have something wrong with them that is possibly fatal, it breaks your spirit. Every single minute that goes by feels like a year. All you want is your baby to get better.

As a mother, my instinct was to protect my child and when I couldn’t do that, it sent me into a depression. I was totally oblivious to the world around me and walked around like I was having an out-of-body experience. The only thing that mattered was every second I was with her.

Even after arriving home, the fear of losing her crossed my mind every day. The birth experience is supposed to be a happy and exciting time in a family’s life. While I was happy to have my baby, fear clouded my mind and pain became an overwhelming part of my being due to the stress that I was exposed to as a NICU mother.

2. She’s grieving the cuddles and connection

My whole pregnancy I envisioned the doctor laying her on my chest and being able to bond with her as soon as she was out of the womb, but things didn’t go that way. In my mind I was grieving the present. I couldn’t accept the fact that this was what had to happen so that I could have her for the rest of my life. I felt cheated. I would look on social media sites and break down in tears when I seen other mother’s leaving the hospital with their babies. It just didn’t feel fair to me.

I was afraid that she would form a bond with someone else instead of me, her mother. If you are a NICU Mama reading this, please, please, please don’t worry about that. Your son and daughter will form a bond with you like no other, you are Mama and no one can take that place. Your baby is loving each moment with you. Your baby knows who it’s mama is and loves those mama cuddles or hand-holding she gets at visiting hours.

But if you cannot be with him/her all the time, don’t feel guilty. That beautiful baby is just growing, sleeping, and dreaming happy thoughts about playing with Mommy and Daddy and siblings. He/She feels your love, and I promise you now I have the most wonderful bond with my beautiful baby girl, and she is crazy over her Mama and Daddy too.

3. She’s grieving the pregnancy cut short

About three days before I was admitted to the hospital for extremely high blood pressure readings, I had a dream I was packing my hospital bag. Half asleep and half awake I woke up thinking I needed to pack my bag. Of course I didn’t, I was only 30 weeks along. Her nursery was NO WHERE near finished, and my baby bump was just starting to get big. She has a good 10 more weeks in there I thought.

I was wrong.

When your baby is in your womb, it is just something you cannot explain unless you feel it yourself. They are safe in there. You can protect them in there. But when they come into the world weeks and even months before they are supposed too, it is one of the scariest things you will ever experience and puts you into total shock. Your pregnancy is a time in your life that you will never get back.

While I spent most of it hanging over a toilet or in miserably uncomfortable pain, it was an amazing feeling having that tiny human inside of me.

To all mommys and daddys, it is okay to grieve this. Just understand that once that beautiful baby is coming home, you will build even more beautiful experiences. We are constantly laughing, smiling, and embracing the memories with our baby girl. Going through something like this makes you appreciate your time with your children more. You understand how easily things could have turned out differently and you are just thankful they are alive and healthy.

Being the parent to a premature baby teaches you a lesson on thankfulness. Instead of taking our child for granted, we learn to embrace every moment we can because we know we are just blessed to have them.

4. She’s grieving her plans of what she thought labor and motherhood would look like

I can’t tell you how many tears I have cried over my daughter thus far. While she was in the NICU, it felt like a constant struggle between us and some of the nurses. I would bawl and sob uncontrollably if she needed her rest and I couldn’t hold her for my hour out of the day. All I wanted was that connection. The day we came home it felt like a victory, I felt like we could finally be a family. I was thankful for the doctors and nurses and kind strangers along the way who helped us, but its like reaching the mountaintop once you get them home.

Just writing this brings the tears, but I want to encourage and inform others on what a toll having a premature baby can take on your whole life and family. I never planned I would be a mother to a beautiful 3 pound baby, but I consider myself so blessed. Someday I am going to tell her how she got the nickname “Tuffy” and how the odds were against her, yet she made it. I grieved my plans for what all of this was supposed to be, but I decided to focus on the good and e,brace each moment for what it was worth. And my goodness, how much those moments are worth. THAT is what will carry you through NICU mamas and daddys.

5. She grieving because she may feel guilty

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had done something to cause her to be born so early. Still to this day, I have my days where I still wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to prevent it. I felt like I caused her to suffer for doing this or not doing this right. I feel for every mother who deals with this. I just hope and pray you will understand that it was not your fault.

The whole situation personally put my body into fight or flight mode. When we got home panic attacks would hit me out of nowhere. There was a period of about two months that I felt like I was in a constant state of panic. My body and mind had to learn to cope with the situation that triggered my defense mechanism to it all from the trauma. Still to this day I struggle, but each day it gets better and better. I may have setbacks, but I always have a comback. Through faith, the love of my beautiful baby and husband, and my will to not give up I am getting better each day.

11 thoughts on “5 Reasons A Nicu Parent May Be Grieving, And How You Can Help

  1. Tiff you are a writer there’s no doubt about that. Its beautiful the way you explain things. Im sorry you had to suffer through this. God brings us through things we could never get through ourselves. Now you’re helping others who are going through what you have. Im so proud of the STRONG, BEAUTIFUL, TALENTED, WOMAN OF GOD YOU ARE. I LOVE YOU.

  2. Having been a NICU mom- this struck home…. being jet- medi-vaced from our Island to Oahu, (away from my older 2 y/o son left abruptly behind with near strangers), then 2 days later another
    medi-vac to the mainland, where we waited a month -until he was stable enough for his first of 3 open heart procedures during the following three months.
    PTSD is an understatement for any NICU partent. I arrived on the mainland with a toothbrush, a nightgown and a pair of sandals. No layette, no clothes, No friends to lean on in a strange land.

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