6 Emotions That Defined My NICU Mom Experience

Life in the NICU is an emotional rollercoaster for all parents. “You are handling everything so well” – is what everyone would say to me. Was I? Maybe, maybe not. I’m still not sure.

This post is difficult for me to write. *This is PART 3 in our series recounting Rosie’s birth story (check out PART 1, and PART 2).

I think it’s because I’m still processing the fact that I had a traumatic birth. I’m still in disbelief that my baby was born at 32 weeks; I’m still in awe that she was okay.

However, I do want to share my experience of giving birth to a preemie as a first time parent.

Here are six emotions that summarize my NICU MOM experience:

I was confused.

I didn’t have a chance to anticipate. During my pregnancy, I only thought about my pregnancy. It was difficult to envision my baby leaving my womb, let alone leave my womb 8 weeks early. I would’ve eventually gotten around to reading about childbirth and packing a diaper bag but instead I had only my usual necessities in my purse when I had a sudden and rather traumatic birth. I was in shock and I never got a chance to catch my breath as I went on autopilot the next few weeks.

Everyone reacted differently to our news as well. Some people swarmed in with sympathy and support: hospital visits, encouraging notes, meals and groceries.  Some people shared stories of how they knew someone who gave birth to a 1lb baby and they turned out just fine so I shouldn’t sweat it. And some people tiptoed around the subject as if unsure whether to say “congrats” or “sorry”. As a first time parent, I was unsure of how to feel about the whole ordeal and the vast difference in other people’s reactions added to my confusion.

I was heartbroken.

The journey was harder than I admit. Initially I didn’t feel a strong attachment to my baby – it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. Rather it was awe and wonder which blossomed into affection as time went on.  That said, it was disheartening to see my tiny baby hooked up to wires and monitors. For the first few days, I didn’t even get to see her face without all her accessories. Worse, it was heartbreaking to see her getting poked and prodded and bleeding.

At first I just felt strange about coming home without a baby – I walked into church on Sunday to receive lots of congrats but no baby to show. Eventually it got harder to leave her and my heart always broke as I left her at the end of each day.  And then there was the distress of not knowing when she was coming home. Everyone asked but no one knew. Although I looked fine, tears flowed easy and often.

I was exhausted.

My instinct was to do. I had a deep sense of helplessness so I busied myself with everything I could do for her well-being. Within 4 days post birth, I was driving myself to and from the hospital. Although I was still physically recovering from my C-section, I was consumed with the vigorous routine of bi-daily visits and 3 hour milk-pumping cycles. I was exhausted all the time. I was also emotionally drained although I did not realize at the time. Since I was obsessed with my routine, I never gave myself a chance to process and to recognize the pent up emotions I had: fear, guilt, angst, jealousy to name a few. This culminated into a few emotional outbursts throughout the journey.

George and Eunice
George and Eunice
George and Eunice are a married duo, living in Toronto, Canada, adventuring through the abundant life that Christ brings through the cross. They just had a beautiful daughter and take care of two mischievous bunnies. you can find them blogging at georgeuniceadventures.com

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