Letter to a NICU Mom
by Ilda Hadziahmetovic
This post is part of HealthyWomen's Real Women, Real Stories series.
When my pregnancy and delivery took a toll on my life, I kept a lot of things to myself. Other than immediate family, and the closest friends, I never discussed my fears or emotions with anyone. I shared only what I thought was necessary even to the ones that knew of what was happening.
When we first came home from the hospital, I had the hardest time talking about our unfortunate events, probably because I never accepted it myself. I wasn't comfortable bringing it up, and I definitely wasn't strong enough to remind myself of it all.
As time passed, I would start up a conversation on my own with my family and friends. I would start sharing what happened, or how I was handling the situation—and not long into the story, I would start sobbing and needed to stop. I physically could not share that entire month in the hospital, with anyone. The guilt took over my life. Although what happened to Mini was idiopathic and uncontrollable, I still had this huge cloud of "what if I did this", "what if I could have done something to prevent it?" hovering over me. It was so hard to accept what happened, so hard to understand and let go. So I talked, and talked, and cried every time I did it. But it was getting me through. I remember feeling like a rock being lifted off my chest every time I shared a part.
The more I shared, the better I felt.
Throughout this entire process of sharing my NICU story, collaborating with March of Dimes, starting up my Motherhood blog, I've noticed how remarkably quickly i've reached out to people, to other NICU moms. I wanted to send out a positive message to them and to remind them to breathe, smile and simply tell themselves that they will be ok. Their little family will be ok, and it will pass.
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To the new NICU mom:
You are most likely lost. You are probably feeling guilty, confused and scared. You will feel bombarded by people that love you and want to support you. You will get phone calls and you will receive messages. You will be asked a million times how you're doing and if you're ok. But how can you be doing? Can you really be ok right now? Remind yourself, they love you and they are reaching out BECAUSE they love you. They might not understand, but they want to. Don't push them away. You will take a pause on your marriage, but you will also be the only ones to get each other through this. This journey you're on, will be long. It will be tough. You will take steps forward, and you will take some back. You will have good days, and you need to prepare yourself for the bad ones.
Those days when you feel like your world is falling apart, they will pass.
Those moments where you don't recognize the person in the mirror, they will pass.
The days you haven't eaten, showered, slept.
That phone call, or page you get in the middle of the night.
That feeling in your gut. That fear.
The guilt of not preventing this, of not being able to fix it either.
It will pass.
That saturation monitor, the heartbeat sound, those oxygen drop warnings
All those beeping signals, they will stop echoing in your head.
New terminology, new medicine, new procedures. They will stop.
All the waiting, all the anxiety. It will end.
You will eat again, you will shower and get some rest.
You will be able to look in the mirror, and not cry.
You will be able to talk about it. You will accept it.
You will stop blaming yourself, or others.
You will get to use that crib you purchased, those clothes you spent endless hours of washing and rewashing.
Those pictures you planned on taking, those places you planned on seeing.
You will do it. You will experience it.
You will remember it all, because you'll remind yourself of it all, everyday. But it will be ok.
YOU will be ok.
Your baby, your family, will all be ok. It will all pass.
a mama + her mini
This post originally appeared on a mama + her mini.