I am sure many of you are either just glad you are done with this season of your life (NICU life) and really want to put it behind you or you are in the process of “getting through” the NICU journey and are holding on for dear life. However, I really do believe that sometimes the hardest things we go through teach us the most. Believe me, as much as I love the stretches of life when nothing "big" is going on, I do look back at the tough times and see how much I learned and grew during those times. I heard early on as a parent that taking your kids camping is really good for bonding as a family. This is due to the fact that often not everything goes just right, stressful situations develop and yet those will be the very things you talk and reminisce about later when they are grown! I have definitely found this to be true as some of the craziest times we had as a family are the things my kids talk about now. We seem to never mention or hardly think about the more "normal" times or when everything went just right. You are not hearing me say I wish for the challenging or difficult moments, those are the times I try to practice more gratitude even tho it is good to practice that all the time. I admit it is just easier when things are a bit smoother. It is at the times when things are more challenging we need to remind ourselves that these are learning moments and ask what can I learn from this?

I think we are incredibly blessed to live in a time that we can connect with others going through the same struggles. The many facebook groups I see for NICU parents are great for this! It helps us so much when we have the ability to ask questions, read suggestions from others and get the encouragement we all need. One of those groups is Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month by Project Sweet PeaProject Sweet Peas is run by a wonderful group of volunteers, who through personal experience have become passionate about providing support to families of premature or sick infants and to those who have been affected by pregnancy and infant loss. They recently posed this question to the group: What is the biggest life lesson you took away from the NICU? I thought it was quite interesting to read some of the responses from the parents, and I really want to share them with you. I hope they will give you hope and encouragement for you on your journey!

Yvonne Torres: Enjoy every moment and milestone. Take lots of pics. Be there as much as possible to visit your miracle. Kangaroo time is priceless. They need skin to skin contact. They grow fast even in the NICU. NICU staff are miracle workers.re still in the NICU.

Heather Renee: There is always someone having a worse day than you. It’s easy to get lost in your day to day, but when you go have dinner at RMH or see the newer moms in the waiting room because the docs kicked them out for rounds, remember it’s not just you and your family fighting in there.

Holly Culp: Never take a single moment for granted, love all You can love, all babies are different and grow and do things at their pace and how amazing the Nicu staff are with such tiny little souls. You learn just how STRONG those little warriors are and just how STRONG you as a parent are.

Jessica Holden McIntosh: That every second is precious. That when you are living the stressful NICU rollercoaster, strangers become family. That the best in people shows itself when you lose your baby. That everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. That a smile, a hug or a kind word can change your life.

Michelle Lingwood:I can handle anything if I deal with just what's infront of me right now... 1 hurdle at a time. (Easier said than done when the hurdles are coming thick and fast!)

Jessica DeVoe Mornson:Trust your gut feeling and advocate for your little one. Don’t stare at monitors and just watch your baby. Do as much as you can for baby-bath, feeding, oral care and etc.

Alexandra Neuharth:It takes a special type of nurse to be with babies, the sick ones and the feeder growers babies too. They take care of mommas too even if you don’t think that they are. Babies are so resilent and skin to skin is the best time of day.

Holly Hackett Moody:Try to find balance. It was so hard to be away from my little one at home, but it was hard to be at home away from my preemie. There was guilt either way, so we had to find balance and time to take care of ourselves and both our kids.

Mary Lungu:Trust god, appreciate the small things, accept help when it’s offered, and never give up hope. I don’t wish the NICU on anyone, but my son and I are stronger for the experience. The final lesson I learned from our NICU stay is gratitude. No thank you will ever suffice for the NICU nurses and doctors who saved my baby.

Acee Lloyd: Take lots of pictures, keep a journal and write down everything - ups and downs, good or bad. Primary Children’s hospital in SLC gave me one. I thought to myself ‘Paxton is coming home, I won’t need this.’ My son didn’t come home. I took so many pictures, which I’m very grateful for, but I didn’t write enough down. His weight, height, blood gases, levels, nothing. Looking back it’s something I’ll always regret.

I encourage you to find this group https://www.facebook.com/nicamonth/ on facebook, and read the rest of the rest of the 267 comments. My hope is that it will lead you to realize the lessons you may have learned on your NICU journey. I would love to hear from you about this, please feel free to share with me at [email protected]