To the sibling of a NICU baby,
Oh sweet child, I know this hasn't been easy. Your sibling joined this world and instead of feeling like our family grew by one, it feels like you’ve lost two of your people. We were immediately whisked off to the hospital, leaving you to sort through unchartered territory without warning, without explanation.
While your sibling is surely a gift, you my sweet child, must feel like you’ve been robbed.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of the first moments of life. Instead of being able to run to our room to join in the excitement of your sibling’s arrival, you sit at home and we sit hours away in a hospital room.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of precious bonding time. Instead of being able to snuggle up with us in bed or cuddle with us on the couch, you settle for FaceTime convos of your sibling sleeping in an isolette or of your sibling cradled in mommy’s arms.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of a smooth family transition. Instead of learning to do life together +1, you’re learning how to do life -2. You haven’t been able to find your place as an older sibling who helps—who throws away dirty diapers or brings mommy clean burp cloths. Instead, you wait patiently in limbo for the day when we can return home.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of your routine and normalcy. Instead of mommy picking you up from school and tucking you in at night, you’ve doing your best to adjust to a fill-in, to a temporary replacement.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of traditions. Instead of our annual holiday traditions at home with all the trimmings, you’re going with-the-flow as we celebrate modestly in hospital lobbies and hotel rooms.
Oh my child, I want you to know that while my heart aches over the circumstances surrounding the arrival of your sibling and what it has meant for you, at the same time I thank God for the good He has worked. Even though you may feel you have been robbed of much, you my sweet child, have been gifted with much, too.
You’ve been gifted with new appreciation. Your heart has undergone a beautiful transformation to appreciate my presence and the things I do for you. You may be young, but my love, I see you maturing before my eyes taking less for granted. I see a heart of gratitude growing within you.
You’ve been gifted with new understanding and resilience. Your heart has undergone a beautiful transformation to understand that sometimes the needs of others come before yours. And my child, you’ve shown incredible resilience. While your routine has been shaken and turned upside down, you’ve done a wonderful job of moving forward.
You’ve been gifted with new tenderness. Your heart has undergone a beautiful transformation in that you are more sensitive, more loving. I see your new-found tenderness with your sibling as you gently love on his tiny frame with soft tones and delicate touches.
You’ve been gifted with new empathy. Your heart has undergone a beautiful transformation to see others in a new light. You recognize the adversity your sibling has faced and I see how you love him for it with a beautiful ferocity. I see your eyes full of admiration and I hear you call him brave for all that he has been through. I hear the concern and compassion in your voice when he cries and I see you quickly run to his side.
Yes my love, I know this hasn’t been easy. I know this is far from how we envisioned things. But I want you to know I am so proud of you. I am so proud of how you’ve handled such a difficult time with maturity and grace. I am so proud of how you’ve stepped up and how you have blossomed into an even more beautiful version of yourself. We, new sibling included, are so blessed to have you in our lives. We love you.