Eight Things I’m Grateful for as a Preemie Mom
When we talk about preemie parenthood, we tend to focus on the struggle. Where are preemie moms lacking support? What is the impact of the NICU on their mental health? What financial barriers do they face?
I myself have gone on numerous podcasts and live news segments to raise awareness around these issues.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to talk about the bad stuff. We need to have a public discourse so that we can find real, viable solutions. I never want to minimize the challenges of being a preemie mom. Yet at the same time, I can’t stress how important it is to also create space for gratitude and positive reflection.
I get it. No one wants their baby to be born early. Everyone wants a child that is healthy, happy, and full-term. But there is also a kind of magic that comes from having a child in the NICU. There are special, intimate moments you can only experience if you're a mom spending hours beside your child's isolette. And that's worth thinking about.
One of the most powerful tools I had when my daughter spent 77 days in the NICU was perspective. Even though my brain was clouded with guilt, overwhelm, and catastrophic thinking, I learned to intentionally invite positive thoughts and gratitude. By focusing on my daughter's small wins, growth, and smiling face, I was able to stay strong for my family. As time went on, I found that navigating my journey as a preemie mom was largely about reframing my mindset.
I’d like to share eight things that I feel the most grateful for as a preemie mom. Whether you’re expecting, have a child in the NICU right now, or are several years out from your hospital journey, I hope this list resonates with you, inspires you, and makes you feel a little less alone.
I Am Grateful for Advances in Technology
I am grateful for the advances in technology and medicine that allow babies to be able to eat, sleep, and grow and a healthy environment.
When I had my daughter, Jenna, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, and my belly was no longer a safe place for her. The NICU provided a haven with 24/7 round-the-clock care. Her isolette was the best place for her to thrive and get the help she needed.
2. I Am Grateful for the Way the NICU Opened My Eyes
The NICU opened my eyes in a way that being a parent to a full-term kid wouldn’t. All of the milestones I would have taken for granted: breathing without a respirator, maintaining their own body temperature, developing suck and swallow reflexes, felt monumental.
I gained a deep appreciation for human life and a child’s growth and development. Babies are fascinating, resilient, and so, so strong. This is part of the reason I hold the title of “preemie mom” so proudly.
3. I Am Grateful to Have Discovered the True Meaning of Strength
I thought I knew what strength was before becoming a preemie mom, but I was wrong. Having my world flipped upside down by the NICU was a true test of my resiliency, determination, and perseverance.
More than that, my daughter taught me what true tenacity looked like. She had to fight harder than anyone–myself, the doctors, my husband, etc. It was ultimately up to her. I know this strength will serve her later in life, and I can’t wait to watch her grow up and take the world by storm.
4. I Am Grateful for All of the Doctors, Nurses, and Staff
I continually refer to all of the doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists, and teachers as “angels” because that’s what they are to me. Jenna’s success simply wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Their love, attention, and care have played a critical role in her development. I am forever indebted to them!
5. I Am Grateful for the Reminder About What Is Most Important
Few things are more important in this world than being present with the people we love. Many of us are reminded of this fact in times of crisis.
There is something about the NICU that makes all of the small worries, inconveniences, and problems melt away. All that matters is showing up for your family and loving them with all your heart.
6. I Am Grateful for the Lessons I Learned About Patience
As a society, we are so fixated on controlling everything. That’s why having a child in the NICU is so difficult.
Letting go of that control taught me to have more patience in every aspect of life. I’ve learned that instant gratification isn’t always the right answer. Sometimes you have to surrender to a higher power, the universe, or the forces that be.
The good news is that patience, teamwork, and “trusting the process” often gets us farther than we could ever venture to go on our own.
7. I Am Grateful for the Way I Was Able to Bond With My Daughter
I got to bond with my daughter in ways that most people don’t ever get to experience. She sat skin-to-skin on my chest for hours each day. And you know what? I think I got more out of our cuddle sessions than she did.
Each time I held her, it felt so right. As a bonus, my husband got to bond with her too. Men don’t usually get this opportunity, but the NICU provided a space for him to experience this special time with her too.
8. I Am Grateful for How This Journey Taught Me to Celebrate Everything
My preemie mom motto is to “celebrate every, everything.” No matter how big, small, or seemingly insignificant, each milestone is worth shouting from the mountaintops.
Here’s a quick challenge for you. Set a timer for five minutes and write down at least three things that YOU are grateful for on your preemie parenthood journey. Then, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #preemiemomgratitude and tag me at @flrrish.
If you’re a preemie mom or dad struggling in the NICU or on your journey from hospital to home, please take a look at our services page. FLRRiSH provides premature parent resources, state lists, coaching, and more.
It would be an honor to walk through this journey with you. You don’t have to do it alone!