Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day of pampering; a day the family goes to brunch. Or your children make you breakfast in bed decorated with flowers they picked themselves. Or maybe you simply spend all day in your pajamas cuddling your little one.
But for moms who have a baby in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), none of these are an option.
Instead, a NICU mother wakes up in a home without her baby. She quickly gets herself together and hurries through congested streets to the hospital. She checks in at the front desk before entering the guarded door. She diligently scrubs in and shuffles her way down the hall carrying bags of freshly cleaned blankets, onesies and bottles. She passes bed after bed of babies with varying levels of illness, until she finally drops her bags on the well-worn chair she sits in day after day, next to one special crib.
“Good morning, sweetheart!”
There is no sugar coating this. Mother’s Day in the NICU completely and irrevocably stinks.
This year will be my first Mother’s Day, and while I am dreading spending the day in a hospital, I am over-the-moon excited to celebrate.
A few months ago I never imagined I would have anything to celebrate this May because my baby was not expected to survive. But thanks to the wonder of modern medicine, and a few miracles, my baby girl is still with us.
And no one can relate to this grateful feeling better than my fellow NICU moms.
This Mother’s Day, I am guaranteed to be surrounded by an incredible sisterhood. It’s a sisterhood no one wants to be a part of, but when you are, it’s a bond you can never break.
We can talk about blood transfusions, CPAP, RetCam eye exams or the litany of other NICU services with complete understanding and empathy—a feat that is nearly impossible for those who haven’t experienced the Unit.
I can also take comfort in the fact that my daughter is surrounded by top-notch medical professionals. So in case something does go wrong, I know she is in the absolute safest place in the world.
I am going to spend my first Mother’s Day cuddle with my baby while also watching her heart and oxygen monitor to ensure she keeps breathing, and that is OK.
Do I wish I was going out to brunch with my baby? Absolutely.
But, no matter where my child may be, I am a mom.
If you know a mom who will be celebrating Mother’s Day in the NICU, tell them “Happy Mother’s Day” and give them a big hug. Because a NICU mom is also a “NICU warrior.”
– A NICU mom