The Best Advice I Received as a NICU Mom
Written By: Angelina Castleberry
When my twins were born, I lived at the NICU. I was there about 18 hours a day. For the first four weeks, it was my home. But after the first month, I had to finally go home and “snap out of it.” I had to come to terms with the fact that my babies weren’t coming home with me anytime soon. I had to remember and realize that I have four other children at home waiting on me, depending on me and needing me.
So I left. I went home. I would make arrangements to be at the NICU either every other day or every few days. I’d split my days and weeks. I had six kids: four girls at home and two premature newborns an hour away.
It was hard, to say the least. I was dealing with postpartum depression, my faith and financial problems. Then I had to shove aside all the emotions that come with that and put a brave smile on my face for my children at home. I was miserable on the inside and out. I was sad. I was just so sad.
I spoke to an ex-NICU mom once and she gave me the best advice I could’ve ever received.
“When you are at the NICU, be there. Don’t think about anything else. Don’t think about your husband, kids or anything else. Be at the NICU. Enjoy your babies. Take in their breaths… take in their lives. Give them your all. Give your baby hope, love, prayers and give them all your energy they need to fight!”
“And when you are home, be home. Enjoy your other children, your husband, your bed, your rest. Don’t worry or wonder about your NICU babies. They are in the best hands.”
It was hard to do this at first. But I needed happiness. I needed the joy of my children’s laughter and smiles and most importantly, I needed their energy. My children give me life. Yes, it was a scary and sad time, but I believe God has blessed me with other children. I must acknowledge the blessings. I must be grateful for all He has gifted me with. I learned to be grateful and faithful for all I believe God has given us.
I have seen babies be called back to heaven. I have seen parents lose hope. I have seen families in despair for their infant. I have seen parents take their babies home.
I was blessed with two additional babies (and four girls at home). I don’t believe God promised me easy. I believe He promised love, life, family and blessings.
My son spent 143 days in NICU. Moments ago I made the last call to the NICU I will ever make because my son is coming home. The last call I will make to check up on him. The last call. The last day. This is it. I’ve cried many tears of pain and relief, and many more of joy. Today, I cry tears of thanksgiving. Tears of pure happiness. Tears of praise.
Deep down it’s a bittersweet feeling. I’ll miss the primary nurses who cared for my son, Matthew, and his sister. I’ll miss the doctors, the front desk staff, even the nice cleaning lady who always asks about them. I’ll miss the hallways, the elevator that talks to us when we get in… I’ll even miss the vegetarian pizza calzones on Fridays.
Today our NICU journey ends. Tonight we start a journey. This new ride, I’m told, is even more scary. But we are ready.