Not having your baby at home with you. The stress of the unknown. The cords and tubes. Nothing about it is easy.
But, not everyone has that support. And, even for us, there were still a few asshat people in the world who said stupid, stupid things (NOT our friends/family... again, they were beyond words amazing!!).
Here are a few stupid things people said to me or that I overheard being told to other parents in the NICU that I would suggest never, ever saying to anyone with a preemie or with a child in the NICU.
-"Did the doctor tell you what you did to have her come early?" or (for me) "Do you think working out so much made her come early?" (Yes, I really had someone say that to me-- to my FACE.)
Seriously?!?!? This one was the WORST. What I did DO?? Meaning I did something to make my baby come before she was ready. Way to tell me I'm a shitty parent. Like I'm not already wondering if it was my fault and beating myself up. Thanks for affirming it. Hey shit head, I didn't DO anything. Sometimes babies just come early. I had a picture perfect healthy pregnancy. I did everything by the book. I took prenatal vitamins. I stayed healthy and active (though not TOO active, thankyouverymuch). I ate right (and not too much or to little, again-- thankyouverymuch). I went to the doctor when I was supposed to. I didn't drink a single sip of alcohol or smoke a puff of anything. I slept in the position you're supposed to. I talked to my belly. I even went to prenatal yoga for goodness sake! I didn't DO (or not do) anything wrong. Now, please get out of my face before I punch you, thankyouverymuch.
-"At least you don't have to go through your last month of pregnancy!"
Ok, maybe those last few weeks of pregnancy are rough... clearly, I don't know, as I didn't GET TO experience them. I WANTED to, but didn't get to. Telling me I didn't HAVE to go through them is silly. I WANTED to. I would have LOVED to, especially as that would have meant Bailey got to keep baking longer and likely been born 100% healthy.
My last preggo selfie!
-"At least you can get some extra sleep!" or "Enjoy your sleep while you can!"
Yeaaaaah. Um, I didn't get any extra sleep. I likely got LESS than a lot of parents with their newborn at home get. I was up every 2 hours to pump and to help with her getting her diaper changed, temp taken, etc. Every 2 hours, like clockwork. I did not take ONE, SINGLE nap the entire time she was in the NICU. Not to mention the added stress and anxiety of having a baby in the NICU. So, NO...I didn't get any extra sleep. Thanks for that, though.
-"She's so small... she doesn't even look real!"
Saying she's small didn't bother me (though it may bother other preemie parents). She WAS small. I was OK with that. But, dude. Don't tell me my baby doesn't look REAL. She IS real. Her cries are real. Her pain is real. Her smiles are real. She's real. I promise.
-On the flip side... "Wow! She looks like a regular baby!"
What... did you think I gave birth to a monkey or something? She IS a regular baby. Thanks.
-"She's in the best place [the NICU] for her right now!"
I know people meant well with this one. I really did. And, they were right. I knew that. But, it also felt like they were saying the best place WASN'T with me. And, as her Mom, that felt like a kick in the stomach.
-"She's be home before you know it."
Again, I know people meant well with this one... I really, really do. But, no matter how soon she got to go home, it wasn't soon enough. And, I didn't KNOW when she'd get to come home.
Most people mean well. I know that. I'm sure most preemie parents know that. Most comments aren't meant to hurt or annoy. And, even those above didn't bother me too much. I'm pretty thick skinned and not too easily bothered. But, some parents are. So, if you're ever in the situation with a loved one having a child in the NICU, take my advice and just tell them the baby is beautiful and ask if there's anything you can do to help. Simple as that. That's what our friends and family did and, let me tell you, it meant the world of difference.
And, to our my friends and family-- you're amazing!! THANK YOU!! We couldn't have gotten through it without each of you!!!