Guilt Is Normal in the NICU and Beyond

I still feel guilty about my daughter being born at 28/5 and she’s 3 1/2 now. I always questioned myself, what if I had done this or that, or did something differently. But at the end of the day, I had to just trust God and thank him for giving me a miracle baby. And it made me be so thankful the next time around to have a healthy full term baby boy, no matter what pain or suffering I endured during my pregnancy with him. ~ Bridget

Many parents of preemies are surprised to find that long after their babies are stable, long after they’ve said goodbye to the NICU, and even well into childhood, they feel a strong sense of guilt.

preemie parent guilt

For many moms and dads there are questions that will never be answered. Was it something we did? Could we have done something differently? Why did our pregnancy end so soon. But more often than not, there are no answers.

When you come to terms with there is likely nothing you could have done, if there were, you know you would have… it’s not the path you choose – but the one you endured… it makes you that much more thankful for your little one. ~ Ashley

Sometimes the guilt fades over the years, even though the questions linger.

I did feel guilty. Not only did I have a preemie, but her twin died before birth. Hearing other moms talk about their twins made me die a little inside. My preemie is now 19. I don’t feel the guilt, but I will always think about the one we don’t have.~ Debbie

At first, I did. Always thinking “what if I went to the doctor sooner and what if we could have kept the twins in longer?” But, after almost 5 years, that feeling has faded away. ~ Brandi

And sometimes the guilt preemie parents feel can last a long time – a lifetime!

Oh yes…20 years on and can still feel the guilt! ~ Toni

Then again, every parent has a different perspective. While guilt in the NICU and beyond is common, some parents don’t – whether naturally or through a concerted effort – feel guilty.

I do not feel guilty for having a 28 weeker. I know I did everything possible to try and have a healthy baby. I made the best decisions for him that I could. He’ll be 18 in January, graduating from high school in June. I’m good! ~ Michelle

In the end, there is no right way or wrong way to experience and to process the experience of premature birth and its aftermath. If you feel guilt over your preemie’s early birth, that feeling may never disappear entirely. Or you may one day find that you have moved past your preemie parent guilt. What can help more than almost anything else is realizing that no matter what you’re feeling, chances are you’re not alone in feeling it!

Share This Post...

About The Author: Christa Terry