Dear NICU/New/Special needs/after loosing a child mom,
I see you. I see you with the stress in your eyes. With the dark circles underneath those eyes as well. I see you with your hair done in a quick hair style. I see you in comfy clothes that you threw on. I see you pump every 3-4 hours. I see you try to feed your baby just as often. I see you trying to do skin to skin (or kangaroo care) as often as possible. I see you worry about monitors and numbers. I see you worry about every weird sound your baby makes.
I see you.
I am you, I was you.
Being a NICU mom is hard. Being a new mom is hard. Being a mom to a child who is extra special is hard. Being a mom after loosing a child is hard. I can tell you first hand, that being a mom to any of these is HARD.
You are constantly worrying about something, but mainly its your baby.
Are they okay? Will they be okay? What can you do to help your child? When will your child be home? Will I ever sleep again? Will these dark circles/bags under my eyes go away? Where did this gray hair come from?
I can tell you this from my short experience though. It gets easier.
The best thing you can do for your baby is to love them. They will eventually come home, even though it feels like it will never happen and you should just move into the hospital. You will sleep again… I think anyway. HA! Makeup works great to cover up the dark circles. A cool dishcloth helps with the bags. And as far as the gray hair goes… A little pampering at the hair salon does wonders!
So, to the NICU/New mom/special needs mom/ mom after loosing a child, here is my advice to you.
Take help when it comes. Even the small things. When you’re sitting up late, doing a feeding, waiting for cares to come around, whenever, make a list of things for people to do. People will ask you what they can do for help, and when they do, accept it. Have someone go pick up groceries. Have someone bring in a meal. Have someone bring you lunch. Have someone just talk with you. Make a list so when someone asks, you have something to tell them.
Sleep when you can. It’s easier said than done, trust me. Take an hour and just take a little nap. Move that baby monitor just a little closer and turn up the volume. They say to sleep when your baby does, do it!
Remember to eat and take care of yourself. You will get caught up in taking care of your child. But, you can’t take care of your child if you don’t take care of yourself. This one is hard for me, but it’s something that I’m working on!
If you happen to be reading this and you’re not one of these mom’s yourself, but know someone who is, here are some ways to help them!
Take them a meal. Whether it’s a sandwich from a local restaurant or a full-blown dinner. It means a lot that they don’t have to worry about it. We also had friends bring us a gift card to subway and a 12 pack of each of our favorite soda. This was great, because at one point, our NICU babe was transferred to a hospital an hour away. So, having the Subway gift card was perfect because we could just grab something and go.
Call them up and talk. A real conversation with a grown up and non medical person is great. Talk about normal people things, but make sure you check in on the baby as well. Just don’t dwell!
Take treat/snack bags. My aunt did this for us when our babe was in the NICU and it was perfect. We could just grab something out of the fridge, throw it in the diaper bag, and we had a little snack in-between cares when we needed a little pick me. She put a cute orange, a cheese stick, a bag of jerky, a little bit of chocolate in our bags. It was perfect, especially for me!
The main thing to remember through all of this, is to enjoy. Life is short and precious, and make sure you enjoy every minute of it!