Parents of Preemies (POPs)
I am a parent of a preemie born at 24 weeks who spent 3 ½ months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I know your fears, your dreams, your terror, your joy, your anxiety, your hopes and your hopelessness and all those other crazy emotions that take hold of you. It’s a roller coaster of emotions every damn day. With me, you will never be alone in those emotions because I will walk the path with you.
One of the most difficult things for me was having absolutely nobody to relate to, it felt like nobody understood ANYTHING. Even my husband and I experienced things differently. The social worker at the hospital tried her best, but we didn’t click. The staff was amazing to me, but they are great at their jobs because they don’t fall apart with you in solidarity. Not that I will fall apart with you, but I understand falling apart because I’ve been there too many times to count. I can tell you that sometimes I cry with my clients and I might cry with you, too. Not fall apart crying, but remembering the difficult times and feeling pieces of it all over again. I don’t ever want to lose that part of me because it is why I bond with you.
People think that over time you will become desensitized. You won’t and that’s OK. Improvement doesn’t equal calm and relaxed. It just equals improvement. It might also equal waiting for the other shoe to drop. Babies in the NICU don’t have day after day of amazing growth and improvement. They have good days, bad days and really, really scary days.
I related to the other moms in the NICU and we formed some great bonds because we were all in one big room together. But that camaraderie didn’t help me at home without my baby at night. Family and friends were immensely supportive, but still, they couldn’t comprehend my terror and our struggles as a couple.
Your struggles are unique. You aren’t arguing over where to have dinner or what your new bed sheets should look like. You are crying over why only you are at the hospital full time and your partner isn’t. One of you is exhausted from working all day and the other needs to stay up until midnight to call the NICU to see if your baby gained weight that day, and which nurse is caring for your baby that night. You are invited to a party and don’t want to go because you need to be by your baby’s incubator. Your partner wants to go to the party because they need a break and to see friends. I am intimately aware of all these struggles and remember each of them clearly.
I want to give you all the big and little nuances of being a parent to a preemie that I discovered along the way that made a difference for me and for us as a couple. I will help you both stay connected in all of your vulnerability while in the NICU. It is an incredibly vulnerable place to be. If you read this far, thank you. If you read this far, maybe we are a good fit. If you read this far, I am sending you gigantic hugs.
If you want someone to talk to, relate to, commiserate with, or to help you get through any fears and emotions you are facing, please call me. I am here for you.