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Dearest interweb, blogosphere, and beyond,

You may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet over here lately. I promise this neglect is not intentional, simply a byproduct of nasty flu bugs and family emergencies.

Over the past week, we have made three separate hospital trips (one for each of us): twice for dehydration and flu symptoms, and once for a baby who decided to try and back-flip out of mommy’s arms and onto the living room floor.

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When you dream of being discharged from the hospital with a healthy, full-sized little one in your arms, it can be crushing to suddenly find yourself in the organized chaos of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Most families never plan on spending time in the NICU. The average mom is unprepared and unfamiliar with this strange world of beeping monitors, bubbling oxygen machines, and gowned hospital staff. And when you factor in a little baby that’s not doing so great, a few postpartum hormones, and a ton of stress, it’s no wonder that it can feel particularly overwhelming.

That being said, here are a few tips that this NICU mommy wishes she’d known in advance:

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Strapped into the five point harness of my baby stroller is a mini superstar sucking on a dinosaur soother.

That’s right – I have been given the highly sought after and seriously underpaid job of chauffeuring a little celebrity around town in my Graco buggy.

At least, I’m pretty sure there’s a celebrity in there…

Because how else can you possibly explain the unfathomable amount of attention given to the tiny human chewing on a toy giraffe?

Anytime we leave the house, we have to tack an additional half hour to our schedule for spontaneous “meet and greets.” We barely make it out of our apartment elevator without being mobbed by a herd of cooing grandmas and cross-eyed strangers pulling silly faces. And forget about the days of messy ponytails, sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt – my little passenger ensures that there is no longer such a thing as running a “quick errand without seeing anyone.”

Clearly the only plausible conclusion is that I’m carting around a blue eyed, button nosed, internationally recognized superstar.

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Note: This post was written for Michaela Evanow’s blog series on “This is Motherhood (Too).” This article was originally posted on Michaela’s site on August 10, 2015. 

I was eight weeks pregnant when the ultrasound technician turned a grainy screen towards me and pointed out not one but two little miracles. And in that moment, with two hearts blinking on the screen and cold jelly oozing down my belly, all fears dissipated. My husband and I could only marvel at the God who delights in giving such sweet surprises.

Amazed, we stumbled out of the appointment with a fistful of fuzzy ultrasound photos and the reassurance that One greater than ourselves was holding this pregnancy in the palm of His hand.

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Sitting outside the hospital with my empty, saggy tummy and watery eyes, I watched family after family proudly and ever-so-carefully carry their day old newborns out to the car. With every step the beaming parents radiated a wave of pride, nerves, and pure delight. Caught up in a world of wonder, they smiled broadly in my direction, inviting me to join them in this brief moment of bliss. And while I desperately wished to share in their excitement, to feel something, I couldn’t seem to get further than the fake smile twisted on my face.

This was their happiest day. But it certainly wasn’t mine.

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Warning: This post is disgusting and squishy and most certainly not for individuals prone to queasy stomachs or an overly active gag reflex. If you’re currently chowing down on lunch, you’ll probably want to save this post for later…

Congratulations! You’ve just brought a milk guzzling, sleep stealing, poop machine into the world. Sadly, gone are the days when you can simply pass the bottom heavy baby back to its mother for a quick change. You are now the parent! It’s time to grab some zinc oxide cream and a gas mask because you are about to wrestle one squirming baby out of an obnoxiously tight sleeper that’s erupting with half-digested carrots.

Ah yes, the joys of parenting… Who knew there were so many wonderful things to learn about babies? Because standing knee deep in a pile of fermenting diapers, you are now an expert on pimply bum rashes and oddly colored excrement. No one can say that having a baby isn’t informative. This, however, is one subject that you probably wish wasn’t covered so extensively…

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