My name is Laura Mullins and I am a NICU Mommy. I would like to share with you my experience in the NICU with our son Mason. Having the perfect pregnancy, I never imagined in a million years that my son would arrive early. Mason arrived on July 23rd, 2015 at 34 weeks. My water broke around 32 weeks but we didn’t realize until 33 weeks that in fact my water had broken. The care I received at Novant was exceptional and they were huge advocates in holding off delivery until 34 weeks. Delivery day came and if I could’ve imagined a perfect delivery, I had it. Once Mason was born the NICU team was on standby to immediately take him. At that point, I didn’t realize how challenging this would be on me.
Once I was physically able we arrived in the intensive care side of the NICU where there are cords connected from every angle on my child. I was so traumatized I could barely hold him. I wasn’t prepared for this, I am a planner and this was out of my control. One day later I had to leave him there in the hospital.
I was traumatized leaving my child somewhere unknown. I knew he was receiving good care. This helped but it didn’t heal my wounds of emptiness. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t meet his needs because I wasn’t there 24/7. It was most important to rest in order to be there for him 50% of the time. Mason was in the NICU for 11 days, he had to be under the bilirubin lights for 2-3 days. We were the lucky ones that didn’t have anything too serious, a lot of our neighbors had been there for months. My typical day would start around 730am, scrubbing in for 5 minutes then breastfeeding and holding Mason as much as I could. I would head home around 6/7PM when my mother or mother-in-law would come for a few hours leaving Mason alone with the staff for only a few hours.
When I returned home I realized how devastated I really was and I didn’t know where to turn. Being vocal about what I went through with my friends and family was a part of my healing process. What I have realized is that it is the strength within that allows us to continue being there for our loved ones. It is also the torch of strength that you pass on to them when they are in their time of need.
“Day by Day”, that’s what everyone says. Take each step day by day…. The problem is…
“I don’t want to; I want to know what’s going to happen now!”
“Why won’t they tell me how much time is left?”
“Why can’t someone just give me an answer?”
“When will I quit feeling guilty about leaving my loved one?”
“When will we start feeling better?”
“When will the pain go away?”
“When will we get out of here?”
“How can I possibly continue this process when I’m exhausted?”
“How do I recover from this experience?”
Your love…Your thoughts…Your voice…. Your strength….
Unfortunately, no one has the answer. The only answer is found within you. It takes physical and emotional strength, while relying on the one’s that love you.
I can sit here and tell all the NICU mommies out there that everything will be okay and to “take it day by day”. However, sometimes it is nice to hear from someone who may have shared some of the same burdens. It is harder to live in the reality while wishing that you could take their fear and pain away. You will be stronger. Your life has forever changed for the better! You now have the strength that can withstand any obstacle. You will fight and win this battle as a team with your friends and family by your side.
And now you will get to pass your torch of strength on to someone you love…
Being a part of Madelyn’s Fund has given me the ability to help other families in a way that would actually heal me emotionally. Shortly after Mason’s first birthday I ran into Madelyn’s Mother Rachel, I knew fate had destined me to be a part of Madelyn’s Fund, what I didn’t know that in helping others, I was actually helping myself.
Mason is now a healthy rambunctious 2 ½ year old and a loving big brother to Lucas. Now that we have two little boys running around our family is complete.