Behind the Smile of a NICU Mom.

By: Danielle Foulk

Some may wonder why the big smile in the photo above. Clearly our son, Parker, was in a place we didn’t expect-the NICU. The smile was for the final return of our baby in my arms, what I spent my entire pregnancy excited for, and it was healing to not only him but also to me.

Our baby boy, Parker, was born at 37 weeks. It was an exciting surprise and while he was early, we knew we were just far enough along that he would be okay. The pregnancy had been wonderful..okay I say “wonderful” which includes morning sickness, moments of extreme hunger pains, and plenty of calf muscle cramps and body aches that led to sleepless nights. Regardless, I was thankful for having a ‘normal’ experience with this pregnancy verses our last…I was SO excited and a little nervous to soon be meeting our newest family member.

Labor was different this time. We weren’t in the OR with two teams of nurses and doctors like with our twins. I couldn’t wait to hold Parker, I had been anxiously awaiting the first moment of laying eyes on him and snuggling with him and then it happened..I was holding him thinking “this is how it’s supposed to be and I’m getting to finally experience normal.” Well, normal only lasted for an hour and a half and then things changed.

In the weeks prior to Parker’s arrival I had joked with my husband, Aaron, that when we delivered it would be like a little weekend vacation. He thought I was crazy but I was excited to have a few days to spend with him and us bonding with Parker. We even put ourselves on the ‘no info’ list so we wouldn’t be disturbed so Landen and Caroline would be first to meet their baby brother (they had been sick so they couldn’t come to the hospital).

Our weekend vacation I had imagined didn’t workout as I had hoped. After delivery I was wheeled into a room by myself with two nurses. No baby. No husband….it was the middle of the night. I was in a bit of a fog….it seemed like forever until Aaron showed up from accompanying Parker to the NICU.

I was hopeful Parker would be in the NICU for a short time like Landen had spent. I wasn’t too overly worried but one day turned into two days, into three.

Parker was diagnosed as having respiratory distress. His lungs were wet and only with time would he heal and no matter how many times I asked no one had a crystal ball to tell us when he would be better.Our “vacation” was spent bouncing between our hospital room, the NICU and the cafeteria. I would more or less check in a few times a day with my nurse and be gone for the day in the NICU with Aaron …things didn’t go from bad to good. Each day seemed like Parker only got worse. The drs and nurses were amazing with Parker and extremely patient with my tearful moments and Aaron’s intense questioning. Then discharge day came for me and Aaron.

Through all of this, Landen and Caroline had been staying with my parents. They had been so excited to FINALLY met their brother they had so anxiously waited for for months. On Sunday, we were discharged. Aaron and I packed up our room and we walked out to the parking garage in pretty much silence and many deep breaths. We were leaving empty handed. We were leaving with part of our newest family member in the hospital and there was nothing we could do about it.

The next week was spent divvying up the days so aaron or I could be at the hospital with Parker. We attempted to keep things as normal as possible for Landen and Caroline which made it hard to really express any emotion over the situation…but God got us through the days. While we were at the hospital I had stopped to listen to the morning prayer one day and in that prayer the pastor had said to more or less exhale through the difficult times…and I have to say I did that every night I would leave Parker behind in the NICU and every time I would leave Landen and Caroline behind at home.

Our stay in the NICU was short but impactful. We were there for 10 days…any parent of a NICU baby will tell you the days seem much longer than what they are and when you’re they’re you can have days where you become mentally drained by the unknown. While sitting next to Parker’s bed, the arm of the rocking chair caught my eye. The shiny finish that was elsewhere on the chair had been worn down to the natural wood. You know how people say, ” if these walls could talk?” As I sat in that rocking chair I couldn’t help but think of the parents that had sat in that same chair wringing their hands, crying, holding their little baby with a tail of cords attached to them…that worn rocking chair gave me comfort, a bit more strength, and a lot of hope.

I could write for days about the nurses at Good Sam. From the nurses we were reunited with after our first stay there with the twins to the new nurses we met but quickly grew attached to, they were nothing but amazing. Some knew when conversation was needed and when silence was just as good. Others wouldn’t let you walk out when they knew we were upset about how the day went. And on a day when you just wanted to feel more connected to your baby, they made it possible for us to help with Parker as much as we could. I’ll be forever grateful to all those nurses who helped us through those long days.

Life is full of unexpected moments and challenges we often question with “why?” Our family has learned over the past six years to trust and to lean on our God and to know that what is meant to be will be. We may not understand the journey, but we rest in the peace of knowing he is in control and because of that, we have been able to tackle the hardest hurdles we have encountered.

How do you approach difficult situations? What is your reaction to the unexpected events that occur in life? Feel free to share and post your comments below 💜



One thought on “Behind the Smile of a NICU Mom.

  1. Kristy says:

    I could have written this post.. We had a 2 week stay due to respiratory issues, only difference is he was full term and his lungs were fully developed. They never could figure out what was wrong with my lo. He also had a spot on his lungs.

    But those moments. The moment of going back to labor and delivery alone. Discharge day (that one almost broke me). Getting back and forth from home to hospital.

    Charlie is a healthy 11 months now, but those early days still haunt me..

    Liked by 1 person

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