Story From A 31 Weeker and His Mama
“the ‘rollercoaster of the NICU’ finally made sense to me.”
It's difficult to put into words something that has been so foundational to my journey as not only a mother, but a mother of a premature baby. When my son was born at 31 weeks, my husband and I had a pretty positive outlook at the beginning. I decided to check out the LFL in-unit NICU group and met Sahra about a week into our stay. I remember that it was great chatting with her and I also felt like we were in a good place mentally - my baby was doing fine, he just needed to grow, we would be out of there soon...etc. etc. Everything seems good and routine even though, unbeknownst to me at the time, a lot was under the surface. I'm so thankful that she kept checking in on me because around week 4, my baby became sick. Life became a whirlwind of emotions. Everything that was underneath started to break through and the "rollercoaster of the NICU" finally made sense to me.
When we came home at the beginning of flu season, I don't think I could have survived without the Lasting Love post-NICU support group. I was feeling isolated and anxious being a new mama of an immune-compromised NICU baby with so much self-doubt about how to tackle this parenthood journey. I was so afraid that something was going to happen to my son. I was afraid to not have monitors, nurses and doctors accessible at all times. I also mourned the loss of the newborn phase I thought that I would have - carrying my sleepy baby around as I ran errands, taking him into a restaurant in his carseat with my husband, or going to new mom groups and other activities daily. None of that happened as we were isolated to our home for the winter. Thankfully, Lasting Love was a safe place that we could go to each week to get out of the house.
“I was able to see first-hand that it's ok to not have it all together “
At group I was able to meet and talk to mamas at all different points of their 1st year post-NICU and it was there that I learned that others had so many of the same fears as I had. I was able to see first-hand that it's ok to not have it all together - that is is ok to not be ok. Once I was able to let that sink in, so much healing of my heart and mind was able to occur.
I didn't know how paramount it would be to have a community of other NICU mamas to walk alongside with. I didn't know how many friends and family members wouldn't understand what it was like to have a child that you weren't allowed to hold right away (for days, or more), or one that was hooked up to machines for months and then one day all of them gone as you put your still fragile baby into the car to go home. With the support support LFL, I have been able to find ways to talk to friends/family about our needs once our son came home. I am able to use other mamas as a sounding board and for advice on how to navigate the complexities of a marriage that has not only added a baby to the mix but survived a traumatic hospital stay with that baby. I am empowered to seek additional help, if needed. Most of all, I am always encouraged and my son is always loved.
“...and have felt the power of community”
Jackson loves going to Lasting Love and his face lights up when he sees the familiar faces there. I am so thankful that Love for Lily exists and that we are able to find this kind of support during his first year post-discharge. I have seen my anxiety decrease dramatically and have felt the power of community. I know that I am a better mother because of the time that Jackson and I have spent in community with these amazing NICU mamas and warrior babies.
-Jackie and Jackson, 31 Weeks