Parents of term babies in the NICU, sometimes you are my biggest annoyance. Sometimes I want to shake you! Or just wash my hands of you and walk away. Why are you my biggest annoyance? Because a baby in the NICU, is a baby in the NICU no matter what age.
There are lots of term babies in the NICU, for various reasons. Some don’t eat well. Some have “sugar” issues. Some need CPAP for crying out loud! (CPAP = continuous positive airway pressure). Some code at delivery. Some get cold. Some might have an infection, which buys them a minimum 48-hour stay. There are various reasons for a trip to the NICU. But guess what Mom and Dad? Just because your 8-pound term baby is in a sea of teeny tiny preemies fighting for their lives… doesn’t mean that your feelings aren’t valid. And guess what else? You’re in the NICU. Which definitely means that your plans did not go… well, as planned. You’re just as scared and nervous as the next parent! And you have the right to feel that way.
Now before you read further, I need you to hear this. What you’re going through is hard. Your feelings are VALID. And I NEED you to stop apologizing.
Parents of term babies in the NICU have this odd quality of apologizing for their stay. They usually say it in not so many terms, in hushed voices, “Well we don’t want to complain because….” as they glance to the 23-weeker in the bed over. Even without saying, they know that there are much tinier, sicker babies occupying the bed space over, than theirs. You’ll start to open up a bit about how stressed you are, but then just as quickly… you shut down. You shutting down doesn’t do any good. And it makes my job harder.
Back to why I think you’re annoying…
Now do you need to go around throwing yourself a pity party every chance you get? No. Absolutely not. But that has less to do with the fact that your child is term, and more to do with the fact that the parents around you with those teeny tiny babies… they don’t throw pity parties.
So while I appreciate that you realize your child is much bigger, and usually (not always) much healthier… just stop. Wallow in your feelings for a bit. Understand that we all recognize that your birth didn’t go as planned. Guess what, we feel for you! Don’t try to mask your hurt, sorrow, or anger. Own it! Hopefully your baby will only have a day to week stay, but for the duration of that stay… you’re allowed to be sad, scared, and angry. Stop apologizing for your feelings. It’s annoying. And plus… those feelings? They are valid!
And quite frankly, I don’t have the time to assure you of such.