September is NICU awareness month. I don’t think I will ever forget this. My daughter was born in September and went straight to the NICU. I was lucky to get to hold her super quickly before she was whisked away. The first time I got to really spend time with her was in the NICU. Every September I can’t help but think about when my daughter was born and our time in the NICU.

Project Sweet Peas established NICU awareness month in September 2014. They created it to honor families currently dealing with the NICU experience and to raise awareness about the challenges these families face.

For those of us who have graduated the NICU, it is certainly a place we will never forget.

During our NICU stay, we faced many challenges.

The hardest thing for me was definitely leaving my baby behind in the hospital and going home to an empty house. I had to stay busy, so we got take out for dinner and went to my parents house. It felt so weird. It was like just another normal night except I wasn’t pregnant anymore but I also didn’t have my baby with me. As a first time mom, I didn’t feel like a mom at all. It was hard for me to do anything while my baby was in the NICU without feeling some sort of guilt or sadness. I always felt like I should be there with her, though this wasn’t possible all of the time.

I think the second hardest part was finding balance between taking care of myself and being with my baby. Not only was my baby in the NICU but I was recovering from a very long, difficult labor. I was also still dealing with preeclampsia in the postpartum period. I felt like total garbage! I don’t know how others feel after giving birth, so maybe it’s totally normal.

It took a while before I was up for driving, so that made it just a little difficult to visit my baby who was at a hospital an hour away from home (without traffic), especially since my husband had to return to work by the time I was discharged. I wanted to be with my baby all the time, but I also needed to recover. The nurses at the hospital were so kind and reminded me that I needed to take care of myself, but this didn’t make it easier.

There’s no easy way to sum up the impact our time in the NICU had on us.

There's a little baby in that incubator. When your baby is in the NICU, this is where they are.

These are not all of the challenges we faced during our NICU time. I feel like it is nearly impossible for me to sum those all up. I also know that every family that goes through the NICU has their own unique challenges. 

Having a baby in the NICU is not something anyone wants. When it was time for us to finally go home though, I was sad to leave. The nurses had become like our family and it was scary to go home without them and without the monitors. 

I learned so much during our NICU stay. I learned more medical lingo than I ever wanted to know.  I learned how to change diapers around tubes and wires and how to dress a baby that weighs just over three pounds. I really learned about patience and about celebrating the little victories. The list of what I learned just goes on and on.

If you are going through your NICU experience now, know that you are not alone. You are allowed to feel however you are feeling right now. Just know that it will get easier and eventually your NICU stay will become a memory.

Feel free to reach out to me through my contact page if you need someone to talk to. You can also check out my Preemie Parent Resource Guide  and find other resources and parent blogs.

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