What the NICU Taught Me

Part 3 of Sofía’s birth story (PART 1 and PART 2):

While Sofía was in the NICU, I was so negative and selfish. From the moment I found out she was in the NICU, I was focused on giving her only breastmilk, and because I couldn’t do exactly that, I felt like I’d already failed as a first-time mom…only 2 days into it.

I wish I had shifted my focus from what she was eating to whether she was eating, gaining weight, and getting better so she could leave.

She ended up staying four nights in the NICU. So many babies have to stay for much longer than that, so I barely even got a glimpse into the suffering and anguish of other moms. I really admire moms who have to watch their babies spend any amount of time in the NICU or any place like it.

By that fifth day, I was ready to just take my baby out of there, even if they didn’t approve it. I felt like it was my right. But I’m not so sure it really was. Again, I should have been way more concerned with her health, and if she was getting better, instead of focusing on getting her out of there.

What I Learned as a First-Time Mom While My Baby Was in the NICUBasically, my motives were extremely selfish, and that’s why the NICU was a scary and mean place. If I had been more concerned about Sofía’s well-being, I know those few days she was in the NICU would have been way more tolerable.

The last day she was in the NICU, I had the most deplorable thought, but it sounded so tempting and perfect at the time.

I was supposed to feed Sofía 30 mL of formula in less than an hour. She especially needed to eat well this last day as a determining factor of whether she stayed or went home with us. Well, it just so happened that my husband and I had to go into a private room to watch a video about CPR for infants, and we could take Sofía with us so I could feed her. She wasn’t drinking very much while we were in the room, and I had the thought to dump some of the formula down the drain. I almost did it, but then I realized what I was doing. I think it could be called neglect. If I had dumped out the rest of that formula, and she went home with us, I would have felt horrible if anything bad happened and she had to come back to the hospital.

What I Learned as a First-Time Mom While My Baby Was in the NICUEven though I wouldn’t wish to endure another trial like this, I am very grateful for the lesson I learned. Well, of course I’m still learning how to be selfless, but this was just one of the first lessons in selflessness I will encounter as a mom.

We have a very healthy two year old. In fact, she never had to return to the hospital for breathing problems. Maybe in the future Sofía will have some complications, especially because my husband grew up with asthma, but for now she is blessed with great health.

Have you had to learn something the hard way as a first-time mom?

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  1. I don’t think you were being selfish at all. I think you were a first time mom, tired, emotional, and you wanted your baby home with you, where you knew you could take care of her. And you were willing to sacrifice some of the things that were important to you to help you baby gain her strength to go home. I had a friend who had her son in the NICU for almost two weeks for some of the same reasons. He was full term and a good weight, just some minor breathing issues. It was really hard for her, too. Thanks for sharing your story! I’m so glad all ended well and you have your precious baby, who doesn’t even remember those first few days haha. Only us moms have the pleasure of that 🙂
    Leilani recently posted…What I say vs what I want to sayMy Profile

    • Isn’t that just the best part of being a parent, Leilani? 😉 I guess that’s why we have to be parents, so we can learn to care for someone else.

  2. Love this post, the photo you shared holding your sweet girl is just precious. Sometimes it seems these experiences in life change us forever because we learn so much about ourselves in those moments, and now you have a healthy daughter = the best gift! 🙂
    Heather @ Krafts and Kiddos recently posted…Circus Birthday Party IdeasMy Profile

  3. I don’t think you were selfish. I agree with Leilani, not to repeat what she said. I was in a similar situation- when Mateo was born we had to stay in the hospital for three extra days because he had jaundice. At one point in time I was arguing with the doctor to release him and that I will accept full responsibility, however, they talked me out of it. He had to spend a few hours under that special lamp but he was with me the rest of the time so I was able to hold him and feed him, but man I wanted nothing more than to go home. I’m glad I stayed though even if it was nothing serious.
    Ana Lynn recently posted…5 Budget Friendly Breakfast IdeasMy Profile

    • What a situation, Ana. Thanks for the encouragement. Maybe you’re right. Perhaps I just feel guilty about the thoughts that were going through my head. I’m just glad it was a short time in the hospital.

  4. Charlee, Your Sofia is beautiful. She reminds me a little of my Addyson when she was born!! I learned a lot of things the hard way. I still remember agonizing over their eating when they were tiny, and I was charting every single bowel movement and pee that they had. I think I about drove myself crazy. I also remember I was so tired that I wrapped up my Addyson’s hand in the diaper when I was changing her. It was funny to see her little hand bundled up tightly in that diaper. Poor thing! I guess that is how we learn!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Herb Chicken with Pan-Roasted Cherry TomatoesMy Profile

    • Thanks, Elizabeth 🙂 I also kept track of what was in her diaper those first few weeks. Haha! Instead, I wish I had just spent more time holding her. I always say that, but during those first weeks I felt like I had too much to do and/or too little sleep, so I didn’t end up holding either one of my girls as much as I should have 🙁

  5. Being a first time mom is so, so hard. I was such a mess the first month. I read all the books, and I had even prepared my type-A self that things were not going to go smoothly. I planned for it to be hard. And it was. And I struggled. Things did get much better over time, as I’m sure you know too. Sometimes there isn’t anything in the world that can prepare you for motherhood.
    Lauren Tamm recently posted…Mom’s on Vacation #2: One Amazing Weekend AwayMy Profile

    • You’re absolutely right, Lauren. I read a bunch of books about natural birth, but when it came time to have the baby, I chickened out. You have to just know that motherhood in general will be a lot more than you bargained for, but it is worth it in the end 🙂

  6. I’m so glad my story resonated with you, Amanda. I can’t even imagine having to keep my baby at the hospital for 3 weeks! It’s definitely a blessing to have healthy toddlers, isn’t it? What a blessing to have your last baby go home with you 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  7. My son was in the NICU for 4 days, due to merconium breathing difficulties – more than typical. We had the most amazing nursing and doctors who were feeding him my milk (along with formula) and were incredibly supportive of my desire to breastfeed. I thank God for my doctor and Nathan’s doctors and all our nurses. It was not what I expected for my first born but it was a great introduction to how to adapt as Mom!

    • I am so happy to hear that your experience was better than mine, Kristen! Having your child in the NICU definitely opens up your eyes to what motherhood is all about!

  8. Sage Love says:

    My son was in the NICU for a month to the day…- I refused to feed him formula and pumped religiously while suffering PPD and having to get rides to the hospital. It was hell and if I had to do it again I would have supplemented with formula and also ignored the judgements from nurses about not being able to be at the hospital as much as I desperately wanted to be.

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