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My first Mothers’ Day: in NICU

Second in our special series of Mothers’ Day blogs, Becca Hilton tells The Smallest Things why her first Mothers’ Day as a mum will stay with her forever

I was expecting my first Mothers’ Day as a mum to be full of love, comfort and joy. Yet the harsh reality was very different. Yes, I did feel the love but I was somewhat lacking in the comfort and joy as my darling little boy Max was in NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit].

The day was not only emotional because it was Mothers’ Day, but it was also my birthday!

2016 was the first year my birthday had fallen on Mothers’ Day and that did make me wonder… Maybe Max had come early for that very reason, so that I could spend those two very special occasions with him?

Not how it was meant to be

Waking up on that morning I felt excited but also disappointed. I couldn’t wait to go and see my little soldier but I couldn’t hold back the sorrow knowing that it wasn’t how it was meant to be. My husband had organised dinner for us that evening but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like celebrating either occasion.

When I arrived at the hospital that morning it felt like just another day but when I saw Max he was in an open incubator for the first time! Previously he had been in a closed incubator with two portholes I had to open to touch him or change his nappy. It was the best Mothers’ Day/birthday gift I could have asked for. Taped to his incubator was a lovely poster one of the nurses had made. It had Max’s face inside a flower wishing me a ‘Happy Mothers’ Day’. My heart melted.

A day of mixed emotions

All I wanted to do was give Max a big squeeze but of course I couldn’t – he was too delicate. Experiencing Mothers’ Day while your child is in NICU is a strange feeling. It’s hard to describe as I had so many mixed emotions.

On this day I spent my usual seven hours or so with Max; soaking up every minute with him. Every smile, every cuddle and even all the windy pops (he’s always been rather gassy!). I didn’t want to go home, I didn’t want to leave him.. on that day more so than ever.

Overall I was just so glad and felt blessed that Max was here at all and my first Mothers’ Day/birthday with him was the most special time and will stay with me forever.

So as I approach my second Mothers’ Day I reflect back on and remember my first… and look forward to many, many more! I hope that yours is filled with everything that you expect and more.

NICU mum I salute you | for mothers day

NICU mum I salute you!

NICU mum, yes you.

Sitting beside the incubator, there are things you ought know.


You are someone very special, someone immensely strong.

You may not know it straight away, but NICU mum it’s true.

There are times you may feel helpless, times you may seem lost.

NICU is a world away from where from where you thought you’d be.


NICU mum you’re special, NICU mum you’re strong.

You may not know it straight away, but I’m telling you it’s true.

Your baby is amazing; tiny fingers, nose and toes.

Not many parents get to say – I see you as you grow.


Watching and waiting day after day takes courage, you must know.

Forward steps and backward steps, the NICU road is tough.

Each day you accomplish the hardest; how to say goodbye.

Going home, emptied armed – it’s okay to cry.


NICU mum I see you, battling brave and strong,

Even on your darkest days I know you’ll carry on.

Your journey’s not for the faintest of hearts,

Shock, uncertainty, grief and loss – and that is just the start.

Your baby shows you courage, you follow in their lead.

Nappy changes, stick thin legs, wire and tubes and feeds.

How strong you are in what you do,

– a mother in NICU.



NICU mum I salute you!

NICU mum, yes you.

You are someone very special, someone immensely strong.

Know this now and in the years that come, you’re one amazing mum!


smallest things