She’s not wearing a statement necklace or wedge heels, classy clothes or a pile of accessories on her arm, with hair curled just-so, cute & trendy nail polish (turquoise!), and that great shade of eye shadow. She’s not training for a Color Run, not planning a girl’s weekend getaway, not taking silly but gorgeous selfies of her and her kiddos braving a splash park, or trying out a fun new restaurant, or at a wild & crazy playdate.
She spends her day tucked away in a windowless NICU by the side of a little one she holds dear.
The last eighteen days, I have witnessed a breathtaking type of beauty here in the NICU, a whole new level of beautiful motherhood I did not expect to see.
Here are some beautiful — stunning — mothers I have seen.
She’s dressed in sweats and tee’s — because that is what is most comfortable when you’re sitting beside a baby bassinet all day, every day, for the past two months. If she makes a quick wardrobe change, it’s to slide on an un-trendy, nondescript blue hospital gown so she can hold, cuddle, and breathe in her baby for her one time that day.
She has her hair in a ponytail — again — because that’s the quickest way to do her hair so she can get to the NICU faster to say good morning to her baby.
She wears dark circles or puffiness under her eyes, either because she’s been up pumping through the night to keep her supply up, though her baby was born so premature she won’t be ready for breastmilk for another month yet; or because she’s had a good, heart-wrenching cry over how hard it all is.
She is not bustling about, but sitting quietly in an uncomfortable rocker at baby’s bedside; she’s exhausted and weak, because that ten minute walk from her postpartum hospital room down the long, long hall to the NICU has taken the last of her strength right after delivering or recovering from a C-section. Yet she did it, because nothing was going to stop her from seeing her baby.
Though her baby is eight weeks old, she still looks like she just had him. There has been no time to lose baby weight, no time to make green smoothies, no time but to scarf down hospital food, or vending machine snacks, or whatever’s available to eat in between your baby’s feeding and hands-on schedule.
Her one accessory is a hospital bracelet, her baby’s precious name wrapped round her wrist, a signal to the hospital world she’s a fragile new mother.
All these things — that, in a world obsessed with outer image and coolness — may seem to point to a frumpy mom, a mom who has “let herself go,” a mom who stopped caring, but belie a heart that thinks of another first; doesn’t care about what the world may think of her; and beats to a pulse that says: think of your baby, be with your baby, go to your baby.
I feel honored to have seen and met many of these breathtaking, beautiful mothers.