“My husband and I welcomed our first child on January 31. He was born prematurely and spent his first 80 days in the NICU. He is three months old technically, but by adjusted age he shouldn’t be born until May 12!”
This was a very special newborn session for me; not only is it the first one in my Parenthood Journals project, but these guys have gone through a lot and I feel incredibly honored that they shared their journey with me. I asked them to answer a few questions about becoming parents, and I love how open they were about their experience.
The biggest struggle so far has been…
“Our obvious biggest struggle was spending our first few months in the NICU, not exactly because it was scary, but because you have so little control over what is happening to your child. Not the way you envisioned starting your parenting journey. It’s just a reality that some of the things he got used to in the NICU are not what I would have chosen, but he is healthy and that’s what really matters. My biggest struggle since he came home has been breast feeding! It’s painful and little dude is not good at it!” -Rachel
“The first 80 days in the NICU were definitely the toughest. Constant anxiety and very little of the situation that we could control. Plus time is nowhere to be had, between visits to the hospital, work, sleep and helping Rachel where I can with her pumping schedule. Its not a fate we would wish on any new or seasoned parents. Also just in general breastfeeding and pumping is especially tough and I am not the one that has to do it!” -Virat
What makes it all worth it is….
“… being able to actually see him growing and changing every day. We are nourishing him and loving him, and he is thriving! Outfits he wore just a few weeks ago are too small, it’s amazing.” -Rachel
“There were days that felt like he was the one providing us with comfort instead of the other way around! He has such beautifully big expressive eyes that really helped us know that things would turn out okay.” -Virat
The hardest part of my day is ….
“… the middle of the night trying to stay awake while holding Bodhi up right for a little while after eating so he doesn’t get bad reflux.” -Rachel
“The span between 1am and 6am. I am tired, Rachel is tired, and Rachel has to make sure she wakes up to pump. We have to make sure we feed Bodhi … Plus I don’t function on no sleep. I tend to just shut down.”
The best moment of my day is…
“… the first time I get Bodhi from his bed in the morning. Nights can be tiring and frustrating, but when I see his cute peaceful face in the morning it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time and all I feel is love.” -Rachel
“After Bodhi is done eating … he is just so awake and attentive to the world during this time. Taking it all in. Its amazing on many different levels.” -Virat
After becoming a parent, do you notice anything different about yourself?
“I think I am less bothered about what everyone/anyone thinks. But i think that comes naturally. I am learning when and where to pick battles with in-laws or Rachel or even Bodhi. I think we are both somewhat more protective of Bodhi than we thought we would be/wanted to be. Part of that is from our NICU experience, part is also having the parent experience ourself. Most of how I envisioned myself as a parent might have gone out the window once I actually became one. Now we take challenges and decisions as they come, and worry less about how it’s perceived by other parents or friends without kids. In my head that is still less than ideal. I want to be a laid back lower stress parent but that isn’t always so simple. Still learning as we go I suppose.” -Virat
“Since becoming a parent I definitely feel more emotional and more emotionally volatile. I cry more and laugh more. I care less about myself because I’m busy caring about Bodhi. I think about my parents and what they sacrificed for me. They call me a lot more too! I don’t know exactly what uses up all my time, but I feel like I have no time to get anything done. I’m tired all the time, but it doesn’t bother me the way it used to.” -Rachel
After becoming parents, do you see your partner in a different light?
“Not really a different light. Maybe just more light? She is definitely more beautiful in a way that I never knew before!” -Virat
“We’re both the same people we were before, which I’m glad about. I always thought he was nurturing and knew he would be a good parent. I am a little surprised that I trust him as much as myself with Bodhi. I think we’ve done a good job of both doing feedings, diaper changes, etc. so that we are both at the same comfort level.” -Rachel
Words of encouragement for other parents:
“Protect each other and take care of each other. Be aware of how each other are feeling. Every day is a new day, and will bring new challenges, new behaviors, and definitely new joys. Everyday we go through so many highs and lows it seems.” -Virat
“I think the best encouragement is to trust yourself. You will get advise from all kinds of people, wanted and not wanted, and people will tell you things that straight up contradict each other. Just trust that you know your child best and you know what is best for them, even if it’s not what ‘most babies’ do.” -Rachel