An Open Letter To Beyonce, From One NICU Mom To Another
According to multiple news reports, you had your babies last week. What an incredible blessing! I know you have all the support a royal mama could possibly want, so I won't keep you long. But after I read that your babies were in the NICU, I wanted to send you a message of encouragement. I know that we don't know a lot about the twins, and that you guys haven't made a statement yet, which is totally understandable. But assuming the headlines are true, news reports are saying your babies are being hospitalized for a minor health concern, which may or may not be jaundice. But even though everyone is saying the issues are minor, it doesn't really matter how "minor" they are, does it? As moms, we switch to survival and protection mode when our children are threatened in any way, and if the reports are right, I understand what you're going through.
My first baby was in the NICU for the first five days of their life. (My child now uses gender-neutral pronouns.) They were diagnosed with jaundice and meconium aspiration, a condition where the baby breathes in fecal matter before or during birth. It was 2009 and B.O. (a.k.a. Before Obamacare), so I'd been unable to get insurance after graduate school ended, because my pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition. As it turns out, having to be on Medicaid was the best thing that could've happened to my NICU baby. There was no way we could've paid the co-insurance and co-pays if we'd had private insurance.
But I digress. Queen Bey, what I want to say is that when you're a mom with a baby in the NICU, the concerns about everyday life take a backseat. The only thing you see and the only thing you care about is your tiny, precious, helpless babies. But you know that already, don't you? Because you're likely in the thick of it right now. Those sweet parts of you are outside of you now, and you're unable to keep them as safe as you kept them just a few days ago. Whether you're an average mom or the Queen of popular culture, the sense of powerlessness that all NICU moms feel is the same.
We are holding all of you up. Even when you don't see us, even when you can't hear us, even when you are completely alone in your hospital bed without millions of adoring fans asking if you're OK.
Other people are now caring for your babies and you have to trust them to do just that. That is hard AF. While we know in our hearts that these people are highly trained and uniquely qualified to make sure our babies are healthy and can come home with us, it is so hard to trust that anything could possibly protect them as much as a mom's love.
I say all of this to you now, Mrs. Carter, because I want you and all of the NICU moms going through it right now to know that none of you are alone. You've got a love-army of former NICU moms out there right now remembering the pain and powerlessness we felt. With those memories as our strength and the shared experience that connects us, we are holding all of you up. Even when you don't see us, even when you can't hear us, even when you are completely alone in your hospital bed without millions of adoring fans asking if you're OK. Dear NICU mamas: you are all in my heart, and I will hold all of you up. Until the last baby comes home.
With love and peace,