Having a baby in the NICU is an intense experience that hits you like a giant slap in the face. Then it waits for you to shake it off, and it dropkicks you in the stomach. Not only are you heartbroken and terrified and desperate to see your baby grow and develop and eventually be discharged, you are also constantly on the verge of losing your mind completely from the stress and exhaustion and worry and all the emotional ups and downs.
The good news is that there are many (many!) of us who have been through it, and we’ve learned a few things about how to hang in there. And while no families have the exact same experience, there is a lot of overlap in how parents tend to feel during a NICU stay. So if you are pregnant, have a baby in the NICU, or know someone who does, hopefully this list will help make life a tiny bit easier.
1. All Feelings Are OK
Navigating your feelings about everything that has happened to you and your baby is a big deal. You might be sad or angry or feeling guilty or frustrated or happy and hopeful or maybe just really ready to go home. You might feel all of those things simultaneously. Or maybe you won’t feel any of them and you’ll wonder if there’s something wrong with you.
There isn’t. Most importantly, you are not at all alone in feeling that way! I would guess that pretty much all preemie parents have felt similar things and can relate.