For Mother’s Day today I got handmade art projects and kisses from my older boys. We are spending the afternoon outside, I’m watching them play chalk as I rock on the porch, just like I’d envisioned. It is a beautiful, sunny day. The only problem is there is one important piece of my perfect Mother’s Day vision missing; my youngest son.
It is more than two months after his birth 9 weeks early and my youngest son is still in the NICU. This is not what I had in mind for my Mother’s Day. I know I’m not alone, mother’s around the country right now are celebrating their Mother’s Day with a little one in the NICU. Many of my son’s NICU neighbors were lucky enough to go home in the last few days, like a Mother’s Day clearance special. Those moms are now home, cuddling their little one on what probably feels like an extra special day to them. For those left behind, their moms are coming to terms with this Mother’s Day in a different way, one with a little less joy. Don’t get me wrong, all of us NICU moms are thankful for our new little bundles of joy. For many of us, this day could’ve been completely devoid of joy if things had been different, but we are lucky because our little babies are alive for us to celebrate, despite any health problems they might be suffering. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that this is not how many of us expected to be celebrating Mother’s Day this year. For some NICU moms this is their first Mother’s Day, which makes it bitter sweet as they cuddle their tiny baby or observe him or her from outside of the isolet in the quiet, sterile environment of the NICU. For other moms, like myself, this isn’t our first Mother’s Day, which means splitting our time between our kids at home and our baby in the NICU. This becomes a day of guilt, for not being with all our kids at once; a day of stress, for having a child in the NICU; and a day of reflection on both what could have and should have been and what the future might hold.
While this Mother’s Day isn’t the day I’d hoped for and it carries a lot of sadness with it, I know that next year’s Mother’s Day will be different. Next year I will likely have four boys presenting me with homemade gifts and running around outside for me to watch. However, for today, I count the blessing I have, pray for my baby (all all NICU babies) to come home soon, and look forward to next year. Happy Mother’s Day!