Mental Wellness in Pregnancy and the Post Partum Period

Pregnancy brings with it a tide of emotions. While some women describe feeling joyful, empowered, and hopeful during pregnancy and in the post partum period, others may struggle with feelings of sadness, isolation, anger, fear, uncertainty and even numbness. It is also not uncommon to experience a combination of extreme joy and devastating lows.  

While some increased stress and sensitivity are common in pregnancy and the post partum period, it is important to seek help if the way you are feeling concerns you or others around you. Your body and mind go through a lot in pregnancy and the post partum period- you deserve to take care of yourself! Your health and wellbeing are also important to your child’s wellbeing and ability to bond and develop appropriately.

If your ability to live life to the fullest is interrupted, you may be suffering from a mental illness related to pregnancy and the post partum period, and you aren’t alone! A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that 27% of mothers in the study suffered from mental health disorders.  

The good news? Most disorders are highly treatable! With the right treatment, many mothers experience a relief in symptoms in just a few short weeks or months. If you are struggling with negative or numb feelings, don’t wait because there is help available. You can reduce your suffering and increase your experience of joy with your new family.

It is important to get assessed by a mental health professional to determine a specific diagnosis and a treatment plan, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. While many people are familiar with post partum depression, women can also struggle with anxiety, eating disorders, adjustment disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others- both in pregnancy and in the post partum period. 

It is important to remember that sadness is not the only feeling that may be a cause for concern. Excessive anger, excessive anxiety, disassociation, fear, panic, difficulty bonding with your baby or connecting with family, problems with sleeping, eating, or ability to focus, and even numbness are all important symptoms that can be alleviated through treatment. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based talk therapy treatment that addresses both thought patterns and behavior.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy (or CBT) is provided by many mental health providers and may be covered by your insurance plan. There are also often free community resources available for women who are pregnant and post partum. During this life changing, stressful, amazing and challenging time, take the time to assess your mental health and ask for help and support– from your partner, friends, family, therapist and doctor, as needed. You and your baby deserve for you to feel happiness and peace in your motherhood. 




Author of the article, Christine Catron is a licensed clinical social worker, writer, honors graduate of University of Kentucky, and the founder of LexCounseling, a therapy practice in Lexington, KY committed to helping people find their light. At LexCounseling, clients are treated for depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and more. For more information, visit When Christine is not doing therapy, you can find her enjoying time with her animals, music, books, and the outdoors.

The Fletcher Family’s NICU Journey

This month we share another two time NICU mom’s story of two completely unexpected term NICU experiences with her boysOften when the NICU is mentioned, people assume that the baby was born prematurely and while that is the case for a staggering number of NICU babies, it is not always prematurity that lands a baby in the NICU and those term baby NICU stays, though typically shorter, can be a big emotional hit to the family because they didn’t have any idea going into the birth that their baby would need to be whisked away shortly after birth.

We, unfortunately, experienced a double dose of NICU life. Neither of our boys were spared from this. Our first experience started June 15, 2015 I went in for a routine doctors appointment but due to lack of movement on the monitors they sent me over to the hospital. I was 38 weeks 5 days and after some monitoring they decided to induce. I had battled gestational diabetes throughout my pregnancy so my blood sugar was dropping rapidly the longer I wasn’t allowed to eat. After 18 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing they decided to do an emergency c-section. All of this together proved to be hard on my boy which resulted in him being born with a blood sugar of 2!! He was pumped full of sugar water and formula and sent to the NICU. Once he got to NICU and his sugars began to normalize they discovered a hole in his heart that required additional monitoring. The combination of his irregular blood sugars and heart caused him to have high blood pressure also. Relative to others, our stay was short but for us, as new parents, 14 days was agonizing. We couldn’t hold him for 2 whole days. He was being tube fed so I couldn’t nurse for 10 days. He had so many tests run, so many cords and wires attached to his small body, it was soul crushing. He is now about to be 4 years old next month and you would never know he started life so rough. He has completely healed of all issues! 

Fast forward to May 12, 2018, pregnant with another sweet boy, I thought I was having Braxton Hicks. Due to being induced with my first, I didn’t really know what going into labor naturally felt like. I had a repeat c-section scheduled for the 18th. I was up from 1am-5:30am and nothing was helping me to get comfortable. At 5:30am I went to the bathroom and my water broke. We called the on call doctor and started making arrangements for someone to come stay with Big Brother so we could head to the hospital. It all happened so quickly that by 10:17 am baby boy #2 had arrived! And then I heard them say his sugars were crashing and he had aspirated on meconium. Again, we couldn’t hold our baby boy and he was whisked off to NICU. Again, many tests were run and our baby boy was hooked up to machines and wires. Again, we couldn’t hold our boy, couldn’t nurse him and had to wait for answers. It all felt like a nightmare. I couldn’t understand why we were going through this again. He had developed TTN (Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn) which was causing extremely labored breathing. He was put on the breathing machines to help ease things for him. It took 16 days for him to regulate his breathing to a point he no longer needed help. He just turned ONE a few days ago and is a wonderfully happy and healthy boy with no long term affects from any of his beginning days. 

The emotions one feels during this process are all over the place. Not being able to hold your baby right away is heart breaking. Watching them work so hard to get where they need to be to make it home is awful. I would have traded places with either of them in a heartbeat if I could have taken that pain from them. It almost feels like you are going through the stages of grief in a way. Sadness, anger, guilt…but then you see them turn the corner. You see them smile, open their eyes, they hold onto your finger while you reach into their incubator or you just watch them sleep peacefully for the first time because they aren’t laboring to breath as much. You feel pride in yourself and them for working so hard. And pure joy when you walk out those NICU doors with your baby in their carrier heading to the car Daddy has pulled up front. And when you FINALLY walk through the doors at home with your sweet baby you think you may never let them go because their snuggles, their smell and their presence is magical.

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I learned so many things from our NICU stays. Without our All Mighty God I don’t know how I would have made it through those days. His unwavering love and comfort were endless and amazing. Our family and friends are wonderful. They prayed along side us daily both times and I can never thank them enough for that. And those nurses. They. Are. Angels. On. Earth. Honestly, the compassion, tenderness and love they spread throughout the NICU is inspiring. The Lord has given each one of them something extra special and I’m eternally grateful for them. 

A big thank you to momma, Jessicca Fletcher, for sharing her stories with us and shedding some light on the feelings and emotions that come along with a NICU stay after a term birth.

The Jones Family’s NICU Journey

This month we hear from Cassandra Jones, a two-time NICU momma willing to share her journeys weathering the NICU twice. While having previous NICU experience gives a parent the benefit of having some knowledge of the journey going in, it is never any easier to experience the event of being separated from your newborn baby and the loss of the birth and postpartum experience you hoped for.

Hi my name is Cassandra Jones, I am 30 years and married to the love of my life Justin! This is our non-typical NICU story! We are a blended family with 3 children between us. Ages 10, 9, and 7. We have been married for 5 years and from the beginning our kids have asked for a baby! Naturally we wanted to have a baby to complete our family. I’m going to go back 8 years to the story of my other daughter and her NICU journey and then I will fast forward. 

My daughter Sophie, age 7, was my miracle baby! At my 20 week ultrasound they found extra fluid on her brain and a hindbrain herniation. They suspected spina bifida. After being sent to Central Baptist to confirm the SB, abortion was suggested. I believe that God gives life and is the only one to take it away. I knew He had given me this child for a reason and I chose to love her no matter the outcome. I found an amazing brand new surgery that had just been published in the New England journal of medicine as a new standard of care surgery for Spina Bifida babies. I immediately went to Vanderbilt to see if I was a contender. At that time there were only 3 hospitals in the US that performed that life changing surgery! Vanderbilt had an amazing NICU so I chose to have the surgery there. I qualified for the surgery and at 22 weeks I had the surgery on my daughter to repair the hole in her back. This process involved me having a c section and the doctors bringing my uterus out on my stomach, opening it up, and then performing surgery on my daughters back while she was still in the womb. When finished, they sewed up my uterus and put in back into my stomach and I was on bed rest until delivery at 34weeks! At 22 years old and this being my first baby all of this was very scary and overwhelming. To get through mentally I just gave all my worries over to God and trusted His will to be done for this precious baby he had given me. I lost pretty much all my amniotic fluid after the in utero surgery. I was given IV fluids every other day for weeks but nothing would bring the fluid level up. After many weeks and no changes they decided that the baby would be better off in the NICU than inside of me and she was delivered at 34 weeks. Sophie weighed 5lbs exactly and was absolutely perfect aside from a few stitches in her back that hadn’t dissolved. She was in the NICU for 13 days and my experience there was amazing. The staff at Vanderbilt NICU was everything and then some! They explained everything to me every step of the way and encouraged me throughout the whole journey. She was my first and only baby and I was all in for her whatever she needed in the NICU even after I was discharged and she was still there. I was able to call and check on her through the night and feel reassured that she was in great hands until I could return the next morning. Being 6 weeks early Sophie had to intubated at first. Then she went down to nasal cannula with a NG tube. She had to learn to breathe on her own then eat and gain weight on her own. Each day felt like a week but at the same time each day was progress for Sophie and she was dis charged in under 2 weeks! I can still remember the smell of the soap that was in her room when I would wash my hands to hold her! After bringing her home the in utero surgery allowed her need for a shunt to be held off until 5 months old! She didn’t have another major surgery until 4 years old when she had a tethered cord with 2 tumors wrapped around it. It was a 6 hour surgery, again at Vandy. After that she had some nerve damage and had to start cathing on a regular basis. 

Now fast forward to present day. Sophie will be 8 this June and is doing amazing! She has a few special needs but when you look at her you would never even know she has spina bifida! 

When Sophie was 2 years old I remarried and found the love of my life that is the greatest husband and father that a girl could ever ask for! We discussed having children of our own but due to my in utero surgery with Sophie I had a high incision on my uterus that was very thin and fragile. After many prayers with my husband we decided to have a uterine repair done at Vandy to see if that area could be repaired and strengthened enough to hold another pregnancy. Thankfully that surgery was a success and we were given the green light to try for a baby. After 2 years of trying and struggling with irregular periods my doctor put me on Femara. My husband and I had been discussing not trying any further and adopting. We figured after 2 years maybe it wasn’t in the plan for us to have a child together. We decided to try through the end of July and then call it quits. July 4th, 2018 the morning after my 30th birthday we found out we were expecting! The joy we felt was indescribable! 

To be pregnant again after 8 years was a bit intimidating! It was considered a high risk pregnancy due to my uterine repair and the risk of rupture. As hard as I tried to not think about it I went the whole pregnancy feeling like a ticking time bomb. My doctor told me that the baby may have to be delivered early if my placenta planted itself on my scar. Thankfully it planted beside the scar and not on it and I did not rupture while pregnant. The biggest news came when we had the early testing done to see if this baby would have SB like her big sister. Thankfully the test came back negative! It also revealed we were having a girl!! The goal at this point was to go to 37 weeks so that my uterus wouldn’t contract and have a scheduled c section. The whole pregnancy I was told that if I made it to 37 weeks there wasn’t any reason why I would need to worry. And that my baby would most likely go home with me after 3 days in the hospital! 

February 18th, the big day was set! We had made it to 37 weeks! No rupture and a healthy baby! I just couldn’t believe it! I was so relieved that this was in a sense a “normal” pregnancy. We made plans for our kids to be home that Thursday(c section was schedule for Monday) with my mom so they could all be home at the same time to meet their sister. UK was shut down to anyone under 12 due to the high number of flu cases they were seeing. We told our kids that we would be home Thursday with their sister and they were so excited. Banners were made and friends were told in anticipation! 

The morning of my c section I was so excited that I was truly having a “normal” baby and delivery! I was going to get to leave the hospital like a regular person with my baby in tow! At 11:02am, Remi Ann Jones was born weighing 6lbs, 11oz and 18.5 inches long! She came out crying and it was the best sound I’d ever heard! I saw my beautiful girl (who looked just like her Daddy!!) I was in Heaven! Instant love! Then, everything fell apart. Just like that. Justin came back from the little side room where the pediatric team had been checking Remi out and he told me that she was having difficulty breathing and would need to go to the NICU. Before I had time to even process that I felt light headed, my blood pressure bottomed out, and everyone in the OR was scrambling. They made Justin leave the OR and all I could hear was the anesthesiologist saying “Mrs. Jones, stay with me Mrs. Jones!”. I could hear nurses on the phone requesting blood transfusions. I had ruptured. On the OR table, after all that time expecting it to happen while I was pregnant. I ruptured on the table while they were trying to sew me back up from my c section. Everything after that was a blur because for five hours post surgery they had me on the highest dose of pitocin, contracting my uterus to make sure there wasn’t anymore blood clots. 

Exactly 24 hours after delivery I was able to make the trip down via wheelchair to the NICU to meet our precious baby girl! We stopped at the check in desk and met the nicest receptionist who gave us our stickers that allowed us NICU entry. Walking through those double doors for the first time to meet Remi and being greeted by her sweet nurse is something that I will never forget! She was beautiful! I was used to all the wires, machines beeping, nurses talking. It was all familiar from my NICU time with Sophie. I felt like a NICU pro. Remi was on nasal cannula oxygen and I guessed that she wouldn’t stay in the NICU long at all! We stayed by her side and watched her little chest rise up and down. I was so thankful I hadn’t bleed out on the OR table. So thankful to be alive and there with our precious baby we prayed for for years! We met with her team of doctors the next morning and they said as long as she did good and weaned off the oxygen in the next few days she would go home by the end of the week (Friday). I was ok with that, only 1 day later than what we would originally stayed. Friday came and went and she had been losing weight. That’s normal so they said they would keep an eye out. Unfortunately her blood sugar levels were high (dehydrated) and her sodium was high. I was crushed that we wouldn’t be going home to our other kids that weekend who still hadn’t met their baby sister. Sophie is a Mommy’s girl and 5 days was already a long time to not see her Mommy. The weekend came and went and it seemed each morning when the team rounded that there was more bad news. We were told she didn’t know how to eat to fill herself and she was losing way too much weight. She also wasn’t able to maintain any of the levels they had discussed. The nurses had to prick her foot before every feeding to check blood sugar levels. She had her blood drawn every morning. The night nurse had to check her weight every night. We lived around every weight check and morning rounds that the doctor made. This was not supposed to be happening. We made it to 37 weeks! The postpartum emotions were more than I could handle. Every set back with Remi was devastating. Each call home to our kids was heartbreaking. They just wanted us home and we just didn’t have the answer to when that would be. My milk was late coming in due to losing half my bodies blood supply. I was pumping around the clock as well as nursing her. The lactation consultant was meeting with me every other day and giving me tips. I felt the weight of the world on me because Remi needed my milk to gain weight. Our 3 kids at home needed their Mom & Dad. My husband was missing over a week of work at this point to stay by my side.  And I was completely and utterly sleep deprived and exhausted! That Sunday (almost one week after delivery) I had one of our nurses, Julia, who we had had several times, come to me after I had a breakdown after meeting with Remi’s doctors. She was so gentle and encouraging. She helped me come back to reality and that told me everything would be ok. It was just what I needed to hear at that moment. She will never know how much I appreciate that. 

Nurse Julia was right. Things got better. I was a good Mom despite how I felt. Remi started to do better and after 9 days in the NICU her team of doctors cleared her to go home! We packed up that room so fast! 

UK’s NICU honestly took me by surprise, along with our whole journey! After being apart of Vandy’s NICU the bar was set pretty high. UK NICU was wonderful! The rooms, equipment, resources, all of it! I’m so thankful for our time there and all the nurses and doctors that were a part of our journey. A journey that I never expected to take me by surprise. However it did, just as life does and will continue to do. We are forever grateful for the NICU and everyone that puts their time into being a part of the NICU. All the way down to small things like having a washer and dryer in the family area to wash our clothes. All of it was greatly appreciated and forever an imprint on our hearts! 

A big thank you to Cassandra for sharing her stories and allowing us to show how vastly different each NICU experience can be, even in one family.

Self Care While on a NICU Journey

So you’ve found yourself at the doors to this place called the neonatal intensive care unit. The neonatal ICU. The NICU. Maybe this is your first time stepping (or being wheeled) through these doors, maybe its your second, maybe these doors seem more familiar to you lately than your own front door. Regardless, walking into or out of the NICU rarely comes without a landslide of emotions.

As you dive head first into life in the NICU, learning the sounds, machines, and terminology of this medical environment, learning your new baby and figuring out what bonding looks like in this setting, it is so easy to get caught up in aiming the focus solely on your baby and his or her health and needs. However, the most important thing you can do for your baby at this point is to make sure that you fully take care of yourself. There is nothing but truth in the saying, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” Below are a few ways we’ve found to focus on caring for yourself while on your NICU journey:

  1. Dont forget your own BASIC NEEDS: sleep, eat, drink. Although the NICU diet isn’t a common diet fad you’ll find circulating the magazines, it consists of “slept a total of 3 hours last night (maybe), had a granola bar for breakfast, was going to eat lunch but got caught up at a care time, dinner was a bag of chips scarfed down in the parent lounge so I could get back, had a few sips of my water bottle today but sat it down and forgot about it” and some bonus points for “couldn’t get past my anxiety-induced stomach ache to deal with any food today.”   You WILL waste away if you are not intentionally providing for your own basic needs. And if you’re new to the NICU and trying to heal from birth or trying to establish/maintain a breastmilk supply, proper nourishment is crucial for your health. Keep a bag full of snacks you enjoy eating at the NICU, keep a water bottle close by and always full, and make sure you don’t skip meals.
  2. Recognize your grief for what it is and let yourself FEEL it. This likely wasn’t the birth you imagined, wanted, planned for, etc. It’s not how you imagined the hours, days, weeks after birth would look or feel. Maybe you’ve spent days in the hospital already, holding on as long as possible before giving birth to your baby to increase their health while your own declines, maybe you went in for a normal check up thinking you had weeks or months before you’d meet your baby only to end up unexpectedly meeting him or her hours later from outside a little glass box. Maybe you’re still waiting to hold your little one for the first time. The NICU is rarely planned for or hoped for when imagining a birth and when you find yourself there, IT IS OK TO GRIEVE THE BIRTH AND POSTPARTUM PERIOD YOU ALWAYS IMAGINED. It doesn’t mean you’re not thankful for your baby’s life, for the chance to get to take him or her home one day, that he or she is improving already. Don’t compare your journey to another’s and think its not ok to hurt or be sad or feel the feels because it could be worse. The thing is, it COULD be worse. But it could also be better. Allowing yourself to grieve and feel your emotions lets you deal with things as they come instead of stuffing it all down until you break.
  3. Do at least one thing for yourself that you enjoy each day without guilt. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Read a book or magazine. Do yoga or some other exercise if that’s your thing. Journal. Go to a restaurant you love and eat a meal you enjoy. Take a nap. Take a shower even. Whatever you enjoy doing, do it. But, here’s the important (and maybe hardest) part, do it WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY. It is not anyone’s fault you and your baby are on this journey. It is still very much ok for you to feel happy and enjoy things outside of your baby.
  4. Spend time outside of the NICU. Momma, daddy, whoever you are in this journey, get out of there and catch your breath. Your baby is not where you long for them to be but they are in the safest place, surrounded by caretakers who generally care about their wellbeing as well. It is necessary for you to take some time for yourself. The NICU is overwhelming. It is full of alarms, unfamiliar medical equipment, medical professionals coming and going often, its full of the unknown. Studies have shown that it is a traumatic place for parents. It is absolutely important for you to allow yourself a break from the constant trauma. Take a walk outside on a nice day. Have coffee or dinner with your significant other or a friend or even alone. Spend a night in your own bed.
  5. Don’t be afraid to seek and accept help- from family, friends or a professional.  There is so much strength in recognizing you are overwhelmed, exhausted, and at a breaking point in your journey. Having a good support system when you are wading through life in the NICU can really make a difference in the experience. When family or friends offer specific help, accept it. Let them help ease the stress of meeting some of your basic needs like food or sleep. Let a close family member or friend to sit with your baby so you can take a break for a bit. Find a friend you know is a good listener (even better if you have one who has experienced the NICU before) to share your emotions, thoughts, fears, etc. with. Reach out to other parents in the NICU around you, create a community of peers who know exactly what you’re dealing with.   Its also important here to mention the increased risks of developing postpartum depression, anxiety and PTSD that having a baby in the NICU brings. If you begin to feel any of the signs or symptoms of these, speak to your OB or primary care doctor about ways to help care for yourself mentally. Whether it be through therapy or medication, there is nothing that indicates strength more than recognizing the need for help and seeking it out. Your baby needs a healthy (physically and mentally) parent just as much as they need a present one.

Giving birth is never a walk in the park. Giving birth unexpectedly, having a child prematurely, is the beginning of a rollercoaster ride. It’s that first big drop that drops your stomach and steals your breath and leaves you wondering if you’re going to lose your lunch. Sometimes it’s a quick, relatively smooth ride and other times its breaking records for world’s longest, bumpiest, twistiest rollercoaster. No matter what type of ride your on, it’s up to you to buckle your seat belt and hold on tight. So if you’re reading this and you’re in the middle of a wild coaster and not sure which way is up, take a deep breath friend. Ask yourself this, will you take a minute to fill up your cup so that you are full enough to continue pouring over into your sweet little one? That is the one thing you can control in this journey. Fill it up.


Written by: Lyndsey Lewis, Early Bird Foundation, Inc.

The King Family’s NICU Journey

Another month, another amazing story in the books! EBF is so thankful to the King family for sharing their story, but also for their desire to seek the support of others in their time of need. It is hard enough to realize the need for support when the trials are supposed to be over but to willingly seek it out is often another barrier to cross. We are so thankful for their bravery so that we can know them and pray for them! Here is the King’s NICU journey in their own words:

Hi my name is Lindsay, and I am married to the love of my life and my best friend Adam King. April 7th, 2017 is a day that I will never forget. It was more than the day that my son Ryland was born. This was a day that would forever change my life. Pregnancy and becoming a mother are things you hear about all the time, but what you don’t hear about are the things that could go wrong. 

November 18th, 2016 was the day I found out I was pregnant. Something that didn’t come easy for my husband and I. We tried for a little over a year and a half before we sought out help. I then found out I had PCOS and getting pregnant would be a little harder for us than it was for others, but with faith in God and having the best doctor by our side we knew eventually we would have the family we always hoped for.

Fast forward three months on medication to help us conceive we were shocked when we found out I was already 13 weeks pregnant. I also found out soon after that I had gestational diabetes. I was having to check my sugar four times a day. I also had to watch my diet very closely. Finally, I was moving into my third trimester. The main thing I prayed very hard for was a healthy full term baby. Once week 28 hit everything changed. It was flu season and everyone at work was sick so I felt like I was coming down with the flu as well. I came home from work feeling terrible so my husband mentioned checking my blood pressure since I was having quite a bit of swelling in my ankles. After checking my blood pressure, I was shocked to see that my blood pressure was very high. I knew I had a regular scheduled ultra sound appointment the next morning so I thought I would just take my medication and go to bed.

The next morning, we went to the doctor and I was still feeling terrible. After having the
ultrasound, we were rushed into a room and we automatically knew something wasn’t right. We met with our doctor where he told us that we needed to head on over to the hospital to run a few tests. This was our first child so we were scared to death what the outcome may be. After meeting with the high risk doctor we found out that I had Preeclampsia, a condition at the time I had never heard of. They monitored him and decided the best option was to be admitted and that they possibly may have to take the baby that night. They wanted to try to get two, 24 hour doses of steroid shots in before
delivery to help strengthen his lungs to give him a better chance at survival. Through the power of prayer, I made it two days for the steroid injections to run their course. I was also on magnesium which helped me survive the 2 days, but on the other hand wreaked havoc on my body.
At 2:00 PM on April 7th , 2017 I was taken in for an emergency c section. At 2:41 PM our 2 pound 14 inch sweet little Ryland Lee King was born. He was sent directly to the NICU. NICU? What is it? Whereis it? How long will he have to stay in there? When can I hold my baby? These were all the questions running through our minds. Everything was so overwhelming and we really couldn’t be excited that Ryland was here because we were so worried about his health.

I barely remember going into the NICU for the first time to visit my baby, but it was something that will stick with me forever. Seeing your child in an isolette hooked up to so many wires, monitors, machines, & fighting for his life is something you can never be prepared for. Ryland started out on the ventilator but was able to move down to a C-Pap after two days, later he eventually graduated to oxygen by nasal cannula. Day 7 in the NICU I was finally able to hold my baby boy for the first time. This was a day I had always dreamed about while not in these exact circumstances, but I was so very thankful
he was alive.42C16E53-EB2E-4013-8AB6-F770B6B9F8F0

The next day we found out that Ryland was septic and in need of a blood transfusion ASAP. Again we had to see our sweet boy continue to fight for his life. Over the next few days Ryland dropped down to 1 pound 10 ounces. I feel like this was our lowest point throughout our stay in the NICU. We went from getting to hold our child for the first time to getting told it may be a while before we could hold him again. Luckily 3 days later his health finally improved enough that Adam finally got to hold him for the first time.

The remainder of our NICU stay consisted of Ryland growing, gaining weight, learning to breathe on his own without oxygen, moving from the isolette to an open crib, learning to bottle feed rather than tube fed, to finally being unhooked from all machines and monitors. The only way that I can describe being in the NICU is a rollercoaster ride. One day you have a good day where you are on the highest of highs then the next you may have a setback which leads to the lowest of lows, but somehow we made it to our discharge day 53 days later.

Ryland was finally able to come home! As we loaded up our little 4 pound 10-ounce baby we
were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. As we pulled out of the parking lot of Saint Joseph East Women’s Hospital we were overcome with tears of joy that we were finally able to bring our baby home. Telling our story is truly special but actually seeing his journey is truly witnessing a miracle from God who we continue to thank every day for such a blessing.

One of the main things I learned throughout this journey is that the NICU journey doesn’t stop at discharge. Once we were home I struggled with postpartum depression and placed a lot of blame on myself for all of the things my son had been through. I heard about Early Bird Foundation from one of the co-founders when she reached out to me. She told me that she thought I would benefit from participating in one of the support group meetings.

Early Bird Foundation has helped me meet a lot of great people who have been through the
same situation. It has helped me to be able to share my story and find different ways to cope with the after effects of the NICU stay. It definitely helped me to find out that I was not alone in these feelings. After nearly 2 years of being out of the NICU we are looking forward to Ryland’s 2nd Birthday. He is a happy, healthy, loving baby who we love to continue to watch learn and grow every day.

As always, please join us in a prayer for this family as they continue healing from their experience and moving forward with joy as their sweet child grows!