We live through and experience a lot of loss when we are parents of a baby who has spent time in NICU.
Life is not how you imagined it to be and it can feel like those firsts, those things that you wanted for you and your baby can be taken away from you. Those feelings are hard to cope with and at times we can feel guilty for feeling them.
I remember being told, as long as he's here and he's healthy, that's all that matters. But I couldn't help but feel a sadness, an anger and a longing to have things how I wanted them to be.
I wanted so much to have my bump back, I wanted to look after my baby in my tummy, I wanted a baby shower (which felt shallow), but I wanted the normal things that I was supposed to have. I wanted the time that I didn't have to be able to nest and organise, set up his nursery and pack a hospital bag. I wanted to go to NCT and make mum friends, I wanted to join in on the conversations about how big my bump was and how I couldn't believe I could get any bigger. I wanted to give birth on my terms in my own way and I so wanted to be able to hold him on my chest and feed him when he was born. I wanted him to stay with me, I wanted to look at him throughout the night, I wanted him to wake me at night, I didn't want to have to wake up to express. I wanted to respond to his every need at any time, I wanted to hold him whenever I wished without any wires or tubes. I wanted to see his face without a mask or tubes blocking him. I wanted to dress him in the clothes I picked for him for the first time. I wanted to have my maternity leave spent on my sofa, cuddling my newborn not in NICU.
All of these things I grieved and I still do at times, sometimes all it takes is seeing a big pregnant tummy, having a conversation about birth, a baby shower, someone leaving the hospital with their newborn in their car seat and I feel this big stab of grief all over again.
I have endured hard times, moments got stolen from me, but it doesnt take away from how lucky I feel to have my son and how much I love him. Both are true.
I know that this is something that pretty much all NICU mums feel and it's important to talk about it.