Photo courtesy of: Cat Harper Photography

My son was born at 35 weeks via vaginal delivery weighing only 4 pounds 4 ounces. He was stunned when he first came out and the nurses immediately took him from us and he spent 11 days in the NICU.  Meanwhile, I got chills, preeclampsia without the symptoms, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.  Not to mention I was battling depression from my baby having to go into NICU in the first place. 

I blamed myself – I could have taken it a little easier at work and at home, delegated more, stressed less.  I cried a lot. I stared into space. I felt every negative emotion one could feel. I had prepared for everything except for him to be born prematurely. This… I had not googled. I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions I was feeling and barely escaped a bout of postpartum depression. However, I survived my son’s stay in NICU, and here are the four things I did that I believed helped me to get through each day.

Day 2 in the NICU

Cheer Up And Stay Productive

I cried every day my son was in the NICU. Sometimes twice a day. The day I was discharged was the worst; the tears just kept flowing. I felt myself sinking into a mild depression. I stopped responding to people that called and texted. This helped no one, certainly not my son.  So, in order to lift my spirits, my husband and I went on a date at the restaurant where we had our very first date. I felt better. I was reminded that I was not suffering alone and that we would get through this together.

Ways To Channel Negative Feelings:

  • Journal
  • Speak with a therapist
  • Jog or do yoga
  • Pray or speak to a spiritual leader
  • Look for a support group for NICU moms

Don’t Forsake Community.

After my husband and I had our date night, I responded to a few people who I consider to be a “safe space.” I allowed myself to be honest, vulnerable, and transparent about what happened and how I was feeling. Instantly, I was bombarded with a host of positivity – from “I love you” and “I’m praying for you” text messages to receiving in the mail milestone cards specifically designed for preemie moms. A few of my sorority sisters even left care a package including some of my favorite things on my doorstep. Letting people in allows you to share the burden; opening up simultaneously redistributes the weight from your shoulders to theirs.

Include Self Care

This was paramount for me and a seemingly return to normalcy. Massage is a regular in my self care routine so I booked a postpartum massage about a week after my discharge. I told my masseuse my son was still in NICU, and she immediately embraced me. This set the tone for one of the best massages I have ever received. She didn’t talk much after our bear hug, but she invited me to cry, vent, and just otherwise release during our time together.  I left calmed, relaxed, and with a renewed sense of strength to see my baby through.

Celebrate The Little Victories.

We didn’t do this, but in hindsight I wish we had. Some of my son’s little victories included holding his temperature and latching on to the nipple (breast and bottle) so he could feed on his own. I would call his NICU nurse every night just to check on him, and one of his doctor’s nurses would call every morning with an update after his assessment. The more CCs he would drink the better. I wish I would’ve gotten him a little “Congrats” card from the Dollar Store (the cheap ones that are 2 for $1) and wrote to him how strong he is and that he was progressing wonderfully. These would’ve made such a great keepsake!

My son Braxton at 4 weeks old.
Photo courtesy of: Ivy & Elm Photography

Finally, I learned that my son is a fighter.  There are times when we as mothers won’t be around our children to help or guide them – and yes this may be a very long time from now – but it feels great to know that my son is good with and without me.

About The Author:

Candace Little is a business and family law attorney practicing primarily in the
metropolitan Atlanta area. She is currently a senior associate attorney at The Law Office of Nathaniel M. Smith, LLC specializing in contested divorces, custody modifications, and paternity suits. With a passion for reuniting families and a fervent hope to give her clients a “life after divorce,” Candace approaches each of her cases from a Biblical perspective and with the client’s legal and emotional needs in mind. When not in court, Candace writes and creates content both for her personal endeavors and others. She is the author of The Fourth Man, a novella written to inspire young women to make better dating decisions, and the wife + mama behind the blog Little Wife Style.