The Guilt of a NICU Mom

Jenna Goodwin

As I’ve connected with several Moms that held the title of “NICU Mom”, it seems there’s one thing all have felt-an “out of place” position.

I know that I am very blessed and fortunate that my boys were only in the NICU for two weeks. We needed very few interventions to get our little guys where they needed to be. We were fortunate but at the same time, that made it even more difficult in my eyes. I know that probably doesn’t make sense but when you have a child in the NICU, you never know what you truly are allowed to do.
Jenna Goodwin, twins, pregnancy

The boys were able to try going to breast several days after they were born and both boys were room air after 24 hours (Lucas was room air from the start). While they had the basic monitors on them, it still made it difficult to know what to do while in their room. I would sit next to the incubators and hold their hand or talk to them but I never felt as if I had “permission” to just pick them up (For the first several days, I felt like I might get sassed for touching them without a nurse in the room. I even would jump after if a nurse walked in to me holding their hand). That was the times I had to wait for the nurses to come in, during feedings but then it seemed it was straight back into their beds.

The Guilt of a NICU Mom 1

I often would sit reading their “NICU journal” or I’d bring my laptop and upload pictures as I took them. I felt odd when nurses would peek in or a staff member would walk in, write something in charts and just leave. These are my children but yet I felt I needed permission to be Mommy. I was only absent from the NICU two days (once immediately after going home as I needed to rest and the other when I ended up sick from the stomach flu). Coming back into the NICU those following days, I felt odd-like I should have found a way to be there.

I didn’t get the sensation of my babies being put to my stomach after they were born. Yes, Aubrey was whisked away quickly but she was brought back to me after her breathing was fine. I had to go to a different floor to see my boys. That initial connection you normally feel just wasn’t there. I love my boys obviously but you find yourself questioning, “did that impact our bond?”. I clearly had no choice in the matter when it came down to it but yet, I question myself of the what if.

You may also like


  1. You already know how I feel about this, since I’m sure I talked your ear off enough! But I still remember our NICU stay like yesterday. I remember going in one day to find out she had been bathed. I cried. They thought I would have just wanted to cuddle, but towards the end, bathing her was a typical mom thing to do. I didn’t get to do much with her, and I was stripped of that. I wish I could tell you this guilt goes away, but 3.5 years later and I’m still fighting it.

  2. Many things can contribute to a lack of a bond — post partum depression being a big thing. I hate my kate immediately after her c-section, yet the PPD did not allow me to fully bond to her for many months (close to a year).

    You can’t blame yourself for what HAS been done — but find solice in yourself that you are a wonderful mother who is doing the best she can in the situation and that bond, if it is not there, yet — will come. It will and you do not, for one minute, need to feel guilty for not feeling it, yet.

  3. I know it’s not the same & I wont pretend that it is but I kind of can relate. When my son was three weeks old he had an emergency surgery. They ended up overdosing him during surgery and he was put on a breathing machine. For those four days we were in the hospital I didn’t know what i could and couldn’t do. I think with most hospital situations and especially with newborns the mother feels so out of place because all you want to do is hold your baby and cuddle them and a lot of the times it’s not allowed so you feel a sense of loss & confusion. I do know that even if there was no initial bonding you have the rest of your life to bond with them and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over those few moments when they were newborns. There will be years and years and many more moments to come!

  4. I haven’t been in your shoes, so I can’t offer advice…. just wish I could give you a hug.

    As Allison stated, there are a lot of things that can interfere with an initial bond, but that doesn’t have to KEEP you from being fully bonded. Hope things are better in that department for you.

  5. ((HUGS)) I’m so sorry you had to go through all those feelings when it should have been a more joyous occasion for you.

  6. My son was a big baby, weighing in at over 10 pounds. They put him in NICU for 3 days after he was born because he was having trouble breathing. It was just as you describe–I didn;t know what I could and coulldn’t do, and felt like I needed permission to do anything.

  7. Hugs!! my children were never in the NICU so I can’t relate but I imagine it must be a hard time! As an adopted child though, I can tell you that a bond is formed from more than just the first few weeks of life 🙂 Hugs! you’re as great momma!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.