I ran my first marathon 10 years ago. I made plenty of rookie mistakes: starting the race much too fast, skipping water breaks, and running alone rather than with others. I “hit the wall” and shuffled for the last few miles but still managed to waddle across the finish line. Before I had even caught my breath, someone asked me when I was going to run another one. “Never,” I replied.
But the next day, I started thinking about what I would do differently the next time. Even though my quads screamed when I hobbled down the stairs, I loved the feeling of knowing I had finished something that was very hard. I had challenged myself to the point of exhaustion. I had found my limit and plodded along past it.
I felt this same sense of pride after each of my three kids’ NICU stays. I felt like I hit the wall emotionally at least a few times, but still endured day to day and somehow made it. If you’re still in the NICU, avoid the “rookie mistakes” and you will make it. Here are three marathon-inspired tips for enduring the NICU:
- Don’t start too fast. Pace yourself! Your NICU stay may feel never-ending right now, so do your best to keep calm and carry on – day by day.
- Don’t skip water breaks. Whether it is a walk around the hospital parking lot or a shower and meal at home, be sure to get some time to yourself.
- Don’t run solo. Build a support network of other NICU parents, doctors, family, friends, and anyone that can encourage you along the way.
Here’s to finishing strong!