Today is the 6th Anniversary of my first Mother’s Day (literally to the exact date). My first Mother’s Day was spent in the NICU with our oldest daughter Stella. We had already been in the NICU for 10 weeks and I was REALLY hoping that we’d be able to spend the momentous occasion at home instead of in the hospital. But Stella had her own agenda so instead we celebrated the day by inviting family into meet Stella for the first time.
I remember the excitement and fear of introducing her to others. The NICU makes you a little paranoid and very over protective! I also remember thinking and dreaming about all the things I couldn’t wait to do with my daughter when we finally escaped and were able to bring her home. Walks in the park, trips to our family cabin, swimming and all the clothes she would FINALLY get to wear!
I would like to think that 6 years later, I am much wiser now and maybe in some ways I am, but honestly, the lessons I learned in those first 3 months of motherhood are the lessons I try to carry with me every single day. Here are 5 lessons that I draw on often:
- Motherhood isn’t meant to be done alone. Whether it’s your spouse, your best friend, your family, a co-worker or all the above, you need someone that will have your back through this Motherhood journey. The day your little one arrives, everything shifts to focus on them, but you are still you as well. I know for me, I needed someone who I could still be “Jamie” with, not Mom, not Stella’s advocate, not NICU parent, just Jamie. In those early days, my best friend was the one I called when I just needed a break and to remember that there was still life happening outside the NICU.
- It’s okay to ask for help. I learned early that I did not have all the answers and that I needed people to help me find them. I have called on my people easily over 1,000 times in the last 6 years and I am so grateful for their help, support and wisdom. Even when they didn’t have the answers I needed, they were always there to listen, vent with me, cry with me and to let me know I was not alone. As women, we tend to brave our way through the hard parts of life, but it’s so important to have people you trust to give you the advice you need and who you can tell your secrets to.
- It could always be worse. We are all allowed a pity party now and then, but I encourage you look around truly see the blessings you have been given. Living in a NICU for 3 months, we saw the best and the worst. The room directly across from ours was a like a hotel space, anyone who came in there was discharged within 3 days. As someone who still had months to go, it was hard to see these families happily go home time and time again. However in the room next that one, lived a little boy who had already spent over 8 months in the NICU and on Easter weekend, he went home to be with his creator instead of his parents. It was a wake up call for us to be thankful for all the blessing he was giving us, because very easily Stella could have never come home – she was born with only a 50% chance of survival after all.
- Even on the worst days, God is near and listening. There were many days that my prayers sounded more like yelling, but even on those days he listened and responded. He ALWAYS provided for my family, often not in the way I expected, but looking back we always had what we needed. Today, our problems are pretty minor compared to those life and death days of the NICU, but the challenges can be just as draining. In those moments of frustration I TRY to pause and remember that he has not failed us yet and that even in these new challenges, he has earned my trust.
- The little moments matter… A lot! During our 87 days in the NICU we consistently talked about all the things we couldn’t wait to do with our daughter when we got out. They were all so simple, like show her the sunshine, wake up in the same house, go for a walk around our neighborhood and introduce her to our dog Jozee. To this day, we try to experience life in moments and not things. We save and spend our money differently now and we work really hard to create experiences with our daughters. It’s probably the greatest lesson that we learned during our time in the NICU.
Today I was blessed to have been woken up by my daughters in our family home. I was blessed to have breakfast with them, watch them run and play in the sunshine. I was blessed to spend time with our family and end the night with a walk around our neighborhood. All my Mother’s Day wishes from 6 years ago came true today and I am SO thankful! God is SO good!
Whether you are pregnant or still trying to be pregnant. Whether your kids are adopted, fostered, step-children or your own. Whether your kiddos are babies or adults. Whether your children are near or far. Whether you are celebrating from a NICU, hospital, home or anywhere else. I hope you have/had a blessed day and you feel God’s presence with you today and always. Happy Mother’s Day to you all!