• Kristina Cherep

Starting Off Motherhood In The NICU

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Since I was a little girl I always dreamed about being a mom someday. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my first thought was always a mom. The second thought was a children's author. Being a mom was always my ultimate dream. I didn't dream to be a doctor or even a teacher; I dreamt of being a mom. For as long as I can remember, I would dream about how many kids I would have, what they would look like, what they would be like, what their names would be, etc.. Never in one of my scenarios or dreams was I wondering if I would start off motherhood in the NICU. I don't think anyone thinks that's in the cards for them. Why would anyone think that for themselves and their future children?

I got to spend 24 hours with my son before he was taken away to the NICU. Those hours were so surreal and how I imagined motherhood would start off as. Although, it was 100 times better than I originally thought it would be like. I don't think you can fully comprehend the feeling of becoming a mother until your baby is placed in your arms for the first time. All the pain of labor and delivery didn't matter anymore. All the days of morning sickness didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was my baby and how I was going to care for and protect him. Right before we found out the bad news, we were planning to take him home the next day. I started picturing us putting him in his car seat for the first time, walking in our front door, getting settled in, him being around our pets, etc..

All of those thoughts seemed to vanish when the nurse walked in and said he needed to go to the NICU now. After he was taken away, Kirk got me a wheel chair and pushed me down the blurriest hallway of my life. My life felt lost in a haze and my thoughts were all scattered in so many different directions. When we got there and saw him being tested and evaluated with an array of tools and equipment, we just sobbed. It was the biggest kind of heartbreak I had ever experienced. It was a heartbreak that I didn't see coming. When you think of your child being born and the first few days with them you don't think of heartbreak. In fact, you think the complete opposite of that.

Next thing I knew, we were driving behind an ambulance with our son in it. That was his first car ride. Without us. We were then in the NICU greeted by a handful of people. Not really comprehending our surroundings. Just shuffling around waiting for answers. I was no longer attached to my baby and had very little control of what would happen to him next. Watching him lay in his isolette crib all alone not being able to give him the help he needed was heartbreaking. Hearing him cry as he got poked and evaluated was heartbreaking. When he cried, I felt it in my whole body. I couldn't pick him up, feed him, or comfort him. I could only be there in the background.

For the past nine months, he was with me and I was the one taking care of him. I no longer had that privilege. There was nothing I could do to comfort him because he was no longer physically in me, on me, or next to me. Going to bed without him that first night was the strangest feeling. I had been so used to his kicks and turns waking me up for months. I had even gotten used to/recognized his cry from the night prior. That first night he was in the NICU was the first time in a long time where he was not with me. I was not with him. A part of me was missing and I'm sure that he felt his comfort zone was missing too. I'm not sure what was worse; going to bed or waking up the next morning without him. All I know is that it's not a feeling I could've ever predicted to feel the day after he was born.

This is how I started off motherhood. This is not how I imagined I would start off motherhood. Everything I had imagined for our life starting off was completely taken away.

I don't mean to come across as negative or dark, but this is what I truly felt that first 24 hours in the NICU. Usually in my posts I try my best to find the positive side to things, but these 24 hours were dark for me. It took me a few days to start to function and find positives in some of this. It's hard, but they're there. I will continue to share this journey with you. The raw journey, which may be dark at times, but I know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.