You Are My Sunshine :: A Letter to My NICU Baby

NICU - Boston Moms

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.

We were sure we couldn’t get pregnant naturally and were making moves to start IVF. But then, my baby girl, you surprised us all. You have been my sunshine since the very beginning. Now, post-hysterectomy, I know you will forever be my only sunshine.

You make me happy
When skies are grey.

We had a very difficult pregnancy, and I was on bed rest on three separate occasions. We could have lost you during every single one, but you fought your way through so many grey skies, over and over. There was no happier moment than when I would hear your little heartbeat or feel your tiny kicks as assurances that you were still healthy and safe. 

You’ll never know dear,
How much I love you.

My whole life, I dreamed about having babies. I had other career aspirations, but I really “just” wanted to be a mom. Being a mom has always meant everything to me and seemed like the most important job I could ever have. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Your heartbeat rapidly declined several times while the doctors were trying to induce me more than four weeks early. You were measuring too small, and Mama’s blood pressure was way too high, so the safest route was to deliver you early. You only weighed 3 pounds and 12 ounces, and even though you had a healthy cry they whisked you immediately away to get checked out in the NICU. No snuggles on my chest, no chance to breastfeed, no kisses on your tiny forehead. I got one peek at your face, and then you were gone. I made your dad follow you while I laid on the operating table, alone and shivering, as they stitched me up post-C-section. I waited almost four hours before I could see you for a too-brief visit — they had to wheel my bed into the NICU. 

The other night dear,
As I lay sleeping.

Fast forward to three days later, when we were discharged from the hospital. The ride down to the hospital lobby, with all our balloons and flowers, was excruciating. I’d just had a beautiful baby, and now I was leaving the hospital without you. It felt so empty. Walking into the door of our home without you that first time made me vomit, and I had never felt so desperately lonely in my whole life.

I dreamed I held you,
In my arms.

You weren’t in a fancy NICU, we didn’t have our own room to stay there with you overnight, and there were no cameras or monitors that we could see you on from our home. The staff was amazing, and we were thankful for that, but as a new mom all I wanted to do was see my baby and hold you in my arms. I wanted to snuggle you close and smell your tiny head, but you were in an isolette 35 minutes away. I spent my days holding your little hand, but the nights were long and mostly spent pumping and looking at pictures and videos of you to try to remind my body that I needed to produce breast milk. I missed you desperately.

And when I woke up,
I was mistaken.

I swear I could feel you crying, and I woke up every time the nurses fed you during the night. I would dream that you were swaddled right in front of me, and yet I still couldn’t reach you. With every sleepy moment, you moved further and further away. I just wanted to be able to keep you safe — I wanted my body to have kept you safe. Reality felt like a nightmare. 

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.

Then, 10 long days later, you finally passed your car seat test. You had just made it above four pounds and were able to come home. I was so relieved that I could finally feel like your mom. I know you didn’t have the longest NICU stay in comparison with others, but for us it felt like an eternity.

You make me happy,
When skies are grey.

I never once minded waking up four times every night to feed you, and I felt thankful I could hear you cry for me at every hour of the day.

You’ll never know dear,
How much I love you.

About 10 months later, your neurologist confirmed that you’d had a stroke in utero (while I was pregnant). I swear I know the exact moment it happened, even though science can never confirm that. Chalk it up to mother’s intuition.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Every day, I’m thankful for your life. The world is a better place because you are in it. Your strong, beautiful, sparkly self exudes more love than I could have ever imagined. You teach me lessons and bring people into our lives that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have the privilege of knowing. Every day with you is a gift. You are the bravest, most determined person I’ve ever met — the perfect mix of femininity and warrior. You have fought a lifetime of battles in your short four years, emerging from the dark places even stronger, every single time. I love you with my whole heart, and then some.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Chelsey is a Massachusetts girl through and through and currently resides on the North Shore on the New Hampshire line. In her former life, before motherhood, she was a teacher in a local high school, but now she's a stay at home mom who mostly cares for her child with special needs. She finds motherhood to be the hardest job she's ever loved and is very passionate about advocating for and educating people about neurodiverse children that may or may not also have physical or intellectual disabilities. In her "spare time" (which happens almost never) she likes to make hair bows, obsess about Disney, quilt, cook things that aren't dinosaur chicken nuggets and pretend she's good at taking artistic pictures.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Very inspiring and beautiful story Chelsea! Brought tears to my eyes thinking of my grandson who was also in the NICU for four months . My daughter never lef t his side both day and night! I was there every day and it was hard not being able to hold him. We all prayed that he would grow up and be healthy and happy. 11 years goes so fast and looking forward to watch him grow into a strong,kind,loving, healthy man. We are truly blessed!💗.

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