She was actually doing better than I was.
I will never forget that first time I was able to hold Mia. She could only be held for an hour, but it was our hour. When it was time for Mia to be placed back in her isolate she started to cry. I had to walk away, so I went back to my room. About 30 minutes later the neonatologist came come in and said ‘we’re having a hard time calming her down; we need to put her back on the vent. We are really concerned about this lung issue and do not have the ability to handle her case here. She needs to be moved to the other hospital.’ All I could think was: You’re ruining my life right now. I’m not well, I can’t leave.
You can’t tell me my baby has to go to another hospital and I have to stay here!
I didn’t want them taking her anywhere but I knew that wouldn't be the right thing for her. Thankfully I was released as well, under strict guidelines to check my blood pressure often, with the promise that my mom would take charge of my care. (I was still on 7 or 8 different medications for my liver, kidneys and blood pressure.)
For the first two weeks at the new hospital Mia was in her own room, which was wonderful because we could have visitors. I was not able drive, due to my medications, so I relied on others to take me to the hospital and home every day.
In between all of this back and forth, and also caring for my 4 year old son, I had to feed Mia too!
She didn't actually nurse until seven days before she came home. For almost an entire month I pumped every two hours. Pumping felt like the only thing I had control over. It was the one thing she needed from me, and the one thing only I could give her.
Through this I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was at fault for Mia being there.
I think most NICU moms feel that way, because our job is to carry and birth our children. I felt like I was incapable of doing the one thing my body was supposed to do. I was angry with my body, and mourning the loss of my pregnancy. I would talk to the nurses, for hours, about all of my traumas. At one point a nurse looked me in the eyes and told me she thought I should get help. I started seeing a therapist every other day, and after Mia was released we went twice a week. I had so much I needed to work through.
Some people think that only soldiers suffer with PTSD, and it isn’t true.
Every July I relive Mia’s birth. I relive every moment. Thankfully I was able to acknowledge my trauma and see that I couldn't get better alone. I found a therapist, took the medication, and am so thankful I was able to break free. What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger. That is just an old adage that people say all the time but it’s really true. Also, I think it’s the big mantra that is needed when dealing with preemies.
After this, I’m no longer afraid of anything.
Mia stayed in the NICU for 36 days. It was a long time, however my son’s 9 day NICU stay was worse for me. I didn’t know if he was going to live, but for some reason I never doubted that Mia would pull through. This time it was me who almost died. That left me with faith and peace that got me through the whole process.
A few words of advice to other preemie parents:
Be honest with yourself, and talk to someone who is not emotionally connected. Don’t let your guilt turn into embarrassment. There is always going to be someone who will listen. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. If you feel like it’s your fault, talk about it. Work it out and you will get to the other side of it. Trust that the doctors and nurses are skilled and that they’re going to keep your child alive.
Also, it is okay to not be able to be there for anyone else except your baby.
I remember one day outside the NICU with my husband: He was having a bad day and trying to talk to me. I told him “I can’t be your person. I can’t accept your emotions right now, I don’t have any room.” Thankfully he was able to talk with a friend who was completely removed from our situation, and he was able to get through it in his own way.
Today Mia is three, and is achieving so much! We say that she behaves as if no one told her she is a preemie and has no limitations. She has never allowed anything to stop her from the goal at hand.
Naomi is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, hair stylist and salon owner residing with her family in Sterling Heaths, Michigan. If you would like to connect with Naomi, you can find her blog here,
or at her salon, Bell Amore Salon in Macomb, Michigan.
If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, postpartum depression or postpartum mood disorders and reside in the Metro Detroit area, please contact Tree of Hope Foundation or Mitten Made Doulas for help and resources around you.