There is a saying that goes, "When one door closes, another opens." I'm sure you have heard it. It is a quote that is used often when dealing with difficult situations and for some experiences, it can inspire.
But how do you find an open door when your baby is struggling to live and their fate is out of your hands? How do you hold onto hope for tomorrow in the darkest hours of your life? And what if the day comes when your baby slips away?
The NICU is a place where you will find moments of pure unimaginable tragedy. Memories of mothers holding their babies against their chest for the last time; of fathers clutching their newborn's hands in their final hours. When I think of our NICU experience, I can almost hear myself sobbing and screaming "not my baby, no, no no..."
But I still will always argue, that an open door can be found in the NICU. That indeed, even when tragedy occurs, hope may be found. Hope is found in memories of the first time you laid eyes on your little one, in your new found family of health professionals dedicated to your baby's care, in the quiet moments of the night when you watch over your little one as he sleeps, and in milestones both big and small.
The NICU is a place that no parent would ever want their child to start his or her life in. However, it is the only place you would want your child to be if their first day is their hardest. It offers quality care and technologies that will give your baby the best chance as they fight for their life. But in those first moments in the NICU, many doors close; your dreams for a healthy baby, a perfect bonding experience after delivery and overall, your own peace of mind.
It might seem that the opportunities for your dreams to come true are over. It can be devastating as you watch those old dreams crumble. On a bad day in the NICU it can get increasingly more difficult to find new open doors; new dreams to motivate you. On a good day you might be able to see through the haze of deep grief and and find new hope in a tomorrow for your family, in milestones met and for that one sweet day when you will finally take your baby home.
If the day does come when you must say goodbye to your little one, all doors may seem to close. But tomorrow is still waiting for you. New aspirations will be found: dreams to honor the life and legacy of your baby, a hope found in the memories that surround you of your baby, opportunity in a new outlook in life and comfort in the warmth of loved ones.
These new found dreams do not negate your journey. It does not mean that you do not grieve the life that you once had. These dreams are a catalyst to help you embrace life in the NICU and in life after. New dreams are symbolic of your strength, determination and courage to love and live another day.
The NICU will always be a place of beginnings and of ends. It is a space where dreams come to light, dreams are diminished and new dreams can take wing.
Never lose hope, there will always be another day and with tomorrow, an open door may wait.
"When one door closes, another opens: but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." -Alexander Graham Bell
Written by Sarah King. Sarah is the mother of two children. Her first born child lost his fight in the NICU. She gives back to her community in his honor. Sarah currently serves as President at Project Sweet Peas. Learn more about Project Sweet Peas at www.projectsweetpeas.com