Dear NICU, I hate you, I love you. I hate that I love you.

Everyone have that song stuck in your head now?! Good!

If you've spent a significant time in the NICU,  the love hate relationship makes perfect sense. I don't personally know how it feels if you were there for a short time, we were there 110 days...but I'm sure the feeling is similar. 

Before my son was born, the NICU was a place I'd seen on Grey's Anatomy.  Heard of it. Never more than that.  

When we were in the hospital for 4 days before he was born, all I learned about the NICU were the mind exploding statistics that it was probably going to be where he lived and died. And I hated that. Didn't even know the place but I. hated. It. 

The first time I was wheeled through the doors....bitterness. It was not in my plans and I hated that we had to be there. It was a terrible feeling but I didn't really know what else to feel. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to hear from the couple about to take their 24 weeker home.  I wanted to be alone with whatever time my son was alloted. They'd prepared us for the worst. I had no hope left. Everyone could just go away. 

Then I saw my son in the incubator. Intubated. Small.  Sticky. Incredibly tiny.

ALIVE.

BREATHING.

They'd saved him. For now, I loved them. 

As the days went on and my son kicked statistic after statistic in the you know what, I began breaking down my little wall and began getting to know the NICU. It's nurses and doctors who tirelessly did everything they could to save our son; other people who were there in my shoes. I started to let the NICU comfort me. I started to bring my happy face. Ask more questions and not resent the nurses who, in my opinion at the time, stole moments I wanted to have (Being there when they Extubated him, his first feed, some other stuff). I learned that saving him was their top priority, even if that meant I would miss some things. I'd learn to let that go. 

The smells didn't bother me as much. I actually grew to like it. His tiny space, that barely fit a small chair to sit in, grew on me. The machines scared me less and less. I let it become my home for however long we were going to stay there. I moved in.  

Eventually, I loved my NICU. I wanted to hug and kiss it. I loved the doctors and nurses in it who loved our son as much as we did. It's hard to put into words the bonds that grow over such a short amount of time. They saved him from a death sentence infection, lung issues, heart issues...numerous other things. What's not to love about that.

When the staff started throwing around the phrases 'discharge preparation' and 'going home soon'...I began to panic! Mostly because I was scared to take home this micro human that was so fragile, but I was so sad and devastated to leave my new home. I wanted to stay with these nurses that became family. I wanted my doctors to be there when I came back from lunch. The feeling of wanting to leave so badly had turned into  wanting to go gome laced with a feeling of losing our NICU life we had grown to so seriously love. I was actually going to miss this place.

The NICU can be a terrifying place. There's just too many emotions and unknowns. Sick babies, so many beeps and machines. Never knowing anything at all ever.

Now 3 years later, I miss my NICU. I go back often...probably way you often! I miss them. All of them. Every nurse and doctor. Even if they didn't work on my son I loved them for doing what they do. I walk in and miss the smell of it. When I walk in I'm flooded with emotions and relive our stay. As hard as that is, I love it. Our outcome was fortunately better than some so it's easy to say I love it there. And I thank God everyday for that. I know others aren't as fortunate. I now do whatever I can to thank and show appreciation for the NICU. 

I guess one peice of advice if you end up there would be to try and embrace it fast. Don't let the fear and anger or whatever feelings you have get in the way for too long. It's a go with the flow place. Time doesn't exist in the NICU. Let yourself be sad. Its totally fine....but try and let it take care of you while they take care of your baby. Hate being there if you need to....but love that there is no better you could be. 

 

Hope that made sense to...anyone!