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A Letter to Me, a Total Jerk, from Me, NICU Mom

By Elizabeth McLaughlin

Postpartum Support International Blog
February 12, 2016

Take a Walk. I don’t need you in my life anymore.

People say hurtful things. But the person saying the most hurtful things to me … is me! If someone else said the same things to me that I say to me, I would never speak to them again. I am more rude to myself than anyone when it comes to my son, a former 32-week preemie, and the guilt I feel over his prematurity.

When my son is having trouble with asthma, I hear myself tell me, “He wouldn’t have asthma if your body didn’t give up on you; if you were able to carry full term.”

If I feel a little disconnected with my son, like for example when the day care teacher gets a warmer welcome than I do, I hear myself saying “If I had spent more time doing Kangaroo Care in the NICU…. If he had heard my voice more in the NICU…. If I had been pregnant longer… I’d be more connected with him.”

When my son is sick, I hear myself telling me that, “He wouldn’t be sick, if I hadn’t stopped breastfeeding when I did.”

I want to tell my critic-self to take a walk. It’ll go a little something like this.

Dear Me,

Listen, you are seriously a jerk. I don’t want such a negative person in my life anymore. I am doing the absolute best that I can. I did not do anything intentionally to cause my son’s prematurity. And after he was here, I had to make decisions that I thought at the time were the best for my family. It’s not helpful to be reminded of the past. And it’s really nervy of you to question me. To question my decisions. It’s people like you that I don’t need in my life. I am ready to move forward. And you are not welcome here anymore.


Ok, well, writing a cute little note didn’t magically make the “mean me” disappear. But it’s a start. I know that if I am diligent, I will convince this girl to start saying nice things to me, like about how I am a super star mom with super awesome kids.


Elizabeth McLaughlin (1)

Elizabeth Ford McLaughlin enjoys writing about parenting and her experience in the NICU with her preemie son (now 2 years old) who was born at 32 weeks + 3 days. Elizabeth hopes to help other parents cope with the strong emotions that result from childbirth and beyond. In addition to working full-time as a Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Affinity Federal Credit Union, Elizabeth is an avid knitter and enjoys crafting with her 2 kids. Follow her on Twitter @EMcFord

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3 Responses to “A Letter to Me, a Total Jerk, from Me, NICU Mom”

  1. Dyane Harwood

    Great post, Elizabeth!

    I’ll share it with one of my closest friends whose daughter was a preemie. My friend, a single mom, went through so much trauma postpartum. She was grateful to the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford for helping her while her baby received care.

    I love the note you wrote and it’s a wonderful start – I can tell by this post alone that you’re an amazing, loving mom.

    take care & Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your family,

  2. Sharon Gerdes


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about being a NICU mom. It’s not easy. I know, as I had two preemie babies. The doctors told me that it takes a preemie up to twelve years to catch up. So just keep on being the wonderful mom that you are, and accept that your son will grow and mature at his own pace.
    Your love for son will also grow every day. Hopefully with time you will be so busy keeping up with all his activities, that the memories of those challenging first weeks and years will fade.
    Happy Valentines Day – with love from another mom.

  3. Sandy

    I love the idea of a note to that negative voice. I too notice that I speak to myself in a way I would never speak to another person. Thanks for the post.

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