Birthday reminder on a calendar

When In the NICU, Remember Your Spouse

Author: Leah Greene
Published Date: Friday, October 05, 2018

I thrust out a birthday card I had just cobbled together with construction paper and crayons and said, “Happy Birthday, Honey!”

The problem: My husband’s birthday had been four days earlier, and I only remembered minutes ago.

The nerve of my husband to even have a birthday during our NICU experience. 

It took something that awful to remind me of my relationship with my baby’s daddy. Let’s be honest, with the exhaustion and stress from the NICU, no way I was giving up precious moments of sleep to spend time with my husband.

But I could hold his hand once in a while. I could talk about my feelings. I could manage to offer a hug when he arrived after work. And I certainly could make the time to eat dinner with him in the cafeteria, or – oh, my gosh – in an actual restaurant that isn’t inside the four walls of the hospital. 

He may never fully understand what I’m going through. But even so, he sure listened when I talked, held me when I cried, and supported the heck out of me and my wide range of feelings. There was nothing else that held me together like a hug from my husband. We might not have time to do the same things we did before a baby, but that’s true of any new parent. 

We both chose this child. We also chose each other. During the darkest times is when we need to remember why and find a way to express that.

Here’s how we maintained our relationship in ways that didn’t involve an incubator or nurse:

  • Every day, we made a point to talk about something other than the NICU. We would walk around the courtyard or visit the butterfly garden. 
  • Sometimes I would remember to send this simple text: “I love you.”
  • My husband would leave a magazine for me to read at the bedside or a cute card on the incubator. 
  • Once he ordered my favorite meal for dinner at the Ronald McDonald house. While it might have been cold by the time I ate it, I knew he was thinking about me.

About Leah Greene

Leah Greene is a member of the NICU Family Advisory Council and the hospital Patient Family Advisory Council. She is mom to Greyson, born at 24 weeks, who spent 200 days in the NICU. Leah is a master prepared nurse now staying at home to care for 4 year old Greyson and other children with disabilities. She lives in Yorktown with  her husband Brian.