I Was A Nicu Baby and It Changed My Perspective Of Motherhood

January 05, 2024 By Allison Thommen

I Was A Nicu Baby and It Changed My Perspective Of Motherhood

When my mom was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome while she was pregnant with me, her prognosis was not good. In 1989, birth at 35 weeks was considered risky and both of them were nervous to become parents in such an uncertain way. That level of prematurity was considered high risk.

My dad was asked which one of us he would rather the medical team focus their life-saving attention on if it came to it. He is a doctor, so his response was simple.

“You’ll come get me before something happens to either of them.”

On May 29th, 1989, I was born at 35w6d and was immediately snuggled by my perfectly healthy mom. We both made it through her labor without any major complications.

I spent a total of 10 days in the NICU and my parents are adamant that my first years were no different than the two full-term siblings who followed me.

The medical field has progressed so much since then.

I’ve been witness to the NICU graduations of babies born at 23 and 24 weeks while I worked in a NICU as a dietitian. The joy of watching those babies leave our unit is something I will never forget.

My perspective on the NICU and premature babies shifted when I became a mother.

I learned to cling to my daughters’ great health and never take for granted the blessing that is. I was once the baby with an uncertain future and that worry shadowed my parents’ first moments as mom and dad. I will never take for granted the easy pediatrician appointments and clean bills of health.

I cannot imagine the worry, fear, and uncertainty of the journey of a NICU mom.

Just because I didn’t walk that road in my own journey in motherhood doesn’t mean that I don’t want to understand yours.

I want your story.

I want your worries.

I want your trust that I will do what it takes to help you.

I want you to reach out to me when you need a friend.

I want you to know that I think about you often.

I want you to know that I pray for you and your baby(ies).

Prematurity remains the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5. We have come so far, and yet have so very far to go.

On every day, but especially on World Prematurity Day, I want to take a moment to celebrate all those moms who have walked that unknown path in the NICU and the years beyond it, to sing praises for all those babies that were born far too early who fought like crazy to be here today, to pray for the babies who are fighting their battles now, to thank the partners and medical professionals who supported a mom healing from delivery while caring for her baby(ies), and to lift up in prayer the babies born beyond what our medical expertise can help.

We are honored to know you, to support you, to love you, and to lift you up by any means necessary.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are the best mother.