Moving Past the NICU Days

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Coastieswife's picture
Joined: 08/06/08
Posts: 408
Moving Past the NICU Days

Hi again, I was wondering if I am the only one that feels like I cannot get past the NICU days. I just still feel overwhelmed and still go back to the "what if" of how it could've gone and just have nightmares of it happening the other way around. I find myself remembering little things about being there and how small they were, the doctors tone when they were concerned about this or that, just everything! I know everything is ok now but I still feel very hurt and resentful towards my friends who have an amazing birth story while mine was complete and utter terror. When people ask me how old they are I either have to make a choice and tell them their adjusted birth date or give them their real birthdate and have them comment on how small they are and then if I give in and tell them they were micro preemies I feel like I am going to have a panic attack so I never do that again. Anybody been here before? I dunno even what to call it!

hopin2bpreggermeggers's picture
Joined: 02/22/10
Posts: 567


You are a super strong woman - and an inspiration to us twin mommies!!!! Hang in there!! I'm praying for your and the little ones!!! Glad they're doing so well. Truly a miracle. Smile

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

I think it is very normal. After my daughter was in the NICU someone told me it was a form of Post Traumatic Stress syndrome. The sights, the sounds, and the emotions of a prolonged very stressful time. We were only in the NICU for 2 1/2 weeks but I will remember that time for the rest of my life. Over 2 years later and I still go to that time whenever I smell hand sanitizer. Even though I know my daughter was going to be ok, there were still dozens of other incredibly small babies there that we saw and got to know their parents. One baby that I got to know the mother while we waited for visiting hours died. How do you ever get over that? You don't. However, time passes. The pain fades.


Joined: 12/10/06
Posts: 14

My oldest son was in the NICU for 5 weeks (born at 32 weeks). We were lucky in that he was pretty healthy for a preemie and the nurses were like angels, very encouraging, but it is a very stressful time no doubt, and I had a lot of resentment for a long time towards people who seemed to have such easy full term pregnancies and birth stories. I had a miscarriage with my second pregnancy, but with my youngest son, with the help of progesterone shots, I was able to carry him to almost 36 weeks and he only had to be in the NICU 24 hours. That is what finally really helped me heal and move on. If I were you, I would just give people their adjusted age because they don't need to be making you feel bad or having you have a panic attack. Been there myself too with the panic attacks. Just concentrate on how well your babies are doing now, and when they are big 3 year olds like my son now is, noone will even know they were preemies. Be proud of them and yourself!

Joined: 12/11/02
Posts: 485

The nurses in our NICU were amazing but it was still the most stressful 3 weeks of my life.
I do often think about it and worry about making sure my son is still breathing when he is sleeping, etc...

Joined: 12/10/06
Posts: 14

Hi Scifigal - I still always go in and make sure my son is breathing too, and I had him on an Angelcare monitor until he moved to his toddler bed. It gave me a lot more peace at night than I would have without it. I also use it on my youngest baby who is now 1. I would highly suggest it to both preemie parents and full term parents for a bit of extra peace of mind. Kind of expensive at BabiesRUs, but it's also nice because it tells the temperature in the room too.
One thing I remember is after my oldest was released from the NICU, I couldn't even stand him falling asleep in the carseat because I was so used to having him monitored!

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
Posts: 1377

I find I've relaxed a lot about the breathing . The main concern I have is when she cries because she has some minor heart issues.

When random people ask her age I usually give the adjusted age but when I give her actual age they don't believe me and then I have to get into how she was early.

I hope you can come to terms with your birth experience being full of stress and worry rather than anticipation and excitement. It was hard enough at 33 weeks knowing that in time things would be fine. I can't imagine how hard it was for you.

Clarkton's picture
Joined: 01/07/08
Posts: 1972

It just takes time to'll never be the same because you have this experience that will always be a part of you but the pain will fade in time. I agree with PP regarding telling people their adjusted age to keep from receiving so many hard questions. My DS1 was only 6.5 weeks early and spent just 17 days in the NICU but it was at least 2 years before I really felt I was moving past being in a state of raw emotion over the whole experience. I can only imagine how much more you have to heal from. I'm sorry it is so hard. Sad

Daffodils's picture
Joined: 04/29/09
Posts: 73

I know exactly how you feel! My boys are 2, but sometimes still while looking back at pictures, or when friends have healthy babies and pregnancies, I feel re-traumatized (They were 30 weekers, Isaac spent 6 weeks in NICU and Gabe 9 weeks). It is a form of PTSD, I believe, especially since you had micro-preemies. Time will definitely help you heal, and as you see those girls grow and develop and learn new things. But I feel like it's something that I will always carry with me. I understand about feeling resentful and hurt almost when friends tell you about their amazing birth stories, and how awesome their babies were after birth. It's not that you are not happy for them, it's just that you have no idea what that experience is like. In a way I think we appreciate our little miracles even more after having gone through all the trauma that we did. I actually work at a hospital (not where my kids were born) and occasionally will accidentally use some of the same brand of hand sanitizer that our NICU used - I literally have flashbacks to that time. It is tough, but you can move through all those feelings! Hugs!

Joined: 04/14/07
Posts: 793

It's been nearly 4 years since Tyler was born and there are still certain sounds and smells that will send me back there in the blink of an eye. I can tell you that it was about a year before the sight of a very pregnant woman didn't make me resentful, wondering if she knew how lucky she was to be so far along.

The pain of the NICU does eventually fade, but as Lynn said, it will also forever change you. You grow to get past the adjusted age/actual age thing as they grow and the difference becomes less apparent. And one day, 4 years from now, you'll look back at pictures from the NICU and barely be able to believe those tiny little babies are the same crazy kids you've got now.

:bighug: let yourself process what you are feeling. Recognize that you went through a traumatic experience in their NICU journey. Even though the "outcome" was good, that doesn't make the ordeal itself painful. You will get past these feelings - in the meantime, know we are here to support you.

Joined: 04/09/06
Posts: 1244


I believe everyone has posted such great comments. I have some similar feelings related to the NICU. I am so blessed that all of my kids were considered pre-term or near term. However, I even remember the assumptions by the NICU nurses that Sarafina was born at 32 weeks because of her size, which upset me even more because I was already so worried about why she was small and why she was having so many issues at birth. Her issues are nowhere near as significant as a micro preemie. I guess what I am saying is that I think what you are feeling is very normal. I think you will find tremendous support on this board.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

:bigarmhug: Hugs to all!