While my son Liam was in the NICU five years ago, I declined many invitations from friends for nights out because I just felt that I couldn’t allow myself to be happy in my current situation. How could I go on with life while my son was in the NICU struggling to survive? I was flooded with sadness, anxiety and guilt. The thought of enjoying anything during those 101 days was a struggle. I denied myself happiness. When my friends asked if they could throw me a sprinkle, I declined. I didn’t want to jinx anything or celebrate my son’s birth. How can I celebrate a child when I don’t know when he will be coming home and in what condition?
However, this time around for my 2nd NICU stay with my son Luke, I’ve learned from my past and I’m choosing happiness. This doesn’t mean that I’m not sad at times, but I’m not letting my past dictate my future and realized that I shouldn’t deny myself happiness because of my current situation. So when a close friend asked this time if she could throw me a sprinkle, instead of declining, I gladly accepted.
The day was filled with hugs, chatter about my newest addition and most of all happiness and love. I looked forward to the sprinkle for weeks and I left feeling hopeful and encouraged from the most important women in my life. I’ve realized that it’s OK to be happy even though my son is in the NICU.
My son is now 6 weeks old and I’m relieved to start feeling like myself. The NICU life is certainly emotionally draining on a daily basis but allowing myself to be happy has been a huge turning point in my daily state. As mothers, we have such high expectations of ourselves and our happiness isn’t always a priority, but I’m surely glad that this time around I’ve realized that it is.
So to the moms out there going through a tough time, make sure to take time for yourself. You are worth it even during your darkest times. Don’t deny yourself the right to be happy; choose happiness.