There is something that happens in a woman’s mind when she gives birth to a preemie. She begins to doubt herself. She wonders whether or not she did something wrong. Why couldn’t she carry her baby full term? Could she have done something different? It’s me. I’m woman.
The photo above was taken by my mom minutes after Nell was born. So tiny. So fragile. So…not done yet.
For so long I wondered what I did wrong. Did I spend too much time on my feet in the weeks before she was born? Was I supposed to do something to make sure this didn’t happen? I really thought it was my fault that she came early. I didn’t even think that this may have been the plan that the Lord had for our family.
It wasn’t until weeks after Nellie came home did I realize that He had such big plans for us. Had she been born on or around her due date we would have been at the peak of COVID-19. That would have meant that ONLY Bryan could be in the delivery room, if at all. And I needed my mom. But she was there with me. That would have meant that none of our family members would get to meet her in person, but they did. Once she was healthy enough our parents and grandparents got to meet her. And when we got moved to the Ontario NICU we got to have extended family visit her. That opportunity wouldn’t have been available to us. More importantly, God knew I would share her story.
I finally accepted that the Lord brought Nell into this world early because there were things that I needed that I wouldn’t have gotten had she been born when we were told she would be. I finally accepted that this hadn’t happened because of me, but for me.
During our time in the NICU I joined a few MicroPreemie support pages on Facebook. I was looking for support from women who had been through it or were going through it. After we brought Nell home I stayed on those pages. I decided to stay because I wanted to be one of the moms that got to say, “the end is coming”.
Guilt is manifested in so many different ways and I started to feel guilty again. I had moved on from the guilt of “what did I do wrong?” to the guilt of saying “she’s perfect” even when there are many babies that aren’t doing as well. I felt guilty because I felt like I was sitting there, with my baby at home, no longer wondering what would happen and there are moms that had babies born younger than Nell and with so many more problems. There are moms that have been in the NICU for months and some for up to a year. How could I sit behind my keyboard, offering advice and encouragement when they were going through something so difficult?
I had to learn that I did not need to feel guilty for the blessings we have received. It didn’t happen overnight. It took so many tear-filled nights, so many conversations with my mom, so many wonderful days with Nell at home.
I also learned to share Nell’s story with these moms. Nell may not have had brain bleeds, NEC, ROP, or PDA, but she had her own hurdles. She may have been able to come home 3 weeks before her due date, but she still had 70 days of NICU time. She may be home now, but we were there. We remember. And I want to be that light at the end of the tunnel for those moms.
So, if any of you are reading this please know that I understand. There is nothing I understand more. I was you. I pray for you. I hear your cries. I feel your heartache. And I know it seems like it’s never ending, but you’ll get there. Jesus has a plan for you. And it’s perfect.
To the mamas that are no longer in the NICU I pray for you, too. I pray that you don’t feel the guilt any longer. I pray that you are able to stay on these support pages and be the light for those that are still in the trenches. We have to stick together and be there for one another. No one will understand like we do.