It’s the most bittersweet “Congratulations!” you can give.
Just a few hours ago – sometimes, just a few minutes – I know, you never dreamed of this place. The place with all of the beeping, the wires, the rushing – and, beneath it all, a tiny, squeaky baby. It’s all a blur, I know. You never expected to meet us, and you’re just so worried about your little one.
Maybe she came to early. Maybe he came to fast. Maybe there was a problem. Maybe we still don’t know why your baby needs us.
And when you first meet us, we say, with a smile, “Congratulations!” your baby is here! But we see the fear in your eyes. The confusion. The concern. We see you watching our every move, wondering the implications. What is that monitor? Is he okay? Why are you taking blood? Is she okay? What is that machine? Will my baby be okay?!
In those first few moments, our congratulations can be hard to hear. But we offer congratulations, not only because your little one has come in to the world, but to reassure you; that your new baby is in the hands of doctors and nurses who care. That beneath all of the tubes and wires there is a baby, your baby, and that is a wonderful thing. That, one day, we hope you will look back, and there will be joy in the arrival of your little one – even if, right now, you don’t know how to feel. We hope you will remember that, through the stress, the tears and the struggles of having a sick baby, there were people whose reassurance helped you through those times.
Maybe, we will watch your little one grow, over months and months, and celebrate all of the firsts; the first cuddle, the first bath, the first tiny outfit. Or maybe, it’s a flying visit, and within a few hours your sweet babe will be snug in your arms, happy and healthy again.
There will be a lot of “maybes”. So many “what if’s”; even more “what then’s?”
It’s never a certain journey, and no two babies are the same. But if there is one thing for certain, it’s that caring for your baby and helping your family is one of the most rewarding things we will ever do, and a privilege we’re lucky to know.
So, congratulations, and welcome to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Did your baby go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below.
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