By: Jessika Sanders
To the sibling of a NICU baby,
Oh, sweet child, I know this hasn't been easy. Your sibling joined this world and instead of feeling like our family grew by one, it feels like you’ve lost two of your people. We were immediately whisked off, leaving you to sort through unchartered territory without warning or without explanation.
You Have Been Robbed
While your sibling is surely a gift, my sweet child, you must feel like you’ve been robbed.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of being a participant in their first moments of life. Instead of being able to run to our room to join in the excitement of their arrival, you are forced to sit at home without answers while we sit hours away from you in a hospital room.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of precious bonding time with us and the new baby.
Instead of being able to snuggle up with us in bed or cuddle with us on the couch, you settle for FaceTime conversations revolving around your sibling sleeping in an isolette or of your sibling cradled in mommy’s arms.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of a smooth family transition. Instead of learning to do life together +1, you’re learning how to do life -2. You haven’t been able to find your place as the helpful older sibling. You envisioned helping by throwing away dirty diapers and bringing mommy and daddy clean burp cloths. Instead, you wait patiently in limbo for the day when we return home.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of your routine and normalcy. Instead of mommy picking you up from school and tucking you in at night, you’ve been doing your best to adjust to a fill-in who is a temporary replacement. A replacement that seemed fun in the beginning, but has lost its excitement because all you want is us.
You must feel like you’ve been robbed of traditions. Instead of our annual holiday customs at home with all the trimmings, you’re going with the flow as we celebrate modestly in hospital lobbies and hotel rooms.
You Have Been Given A Gift
Oh, my child, I want you to know that while my heart aches over the circumstances surrounding the arrival of your sibling and what it has meant for you, at the same time I thank God for the good He has created throughout our situation. Even though you may feel you have been robbed of so much, sweet child, you have been gifted with much more.
This season is a true reflection of Romans 8:28 ESV and how “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” For I clearly see all the good He has worked in you.
You have been gifted with appreciation and perspective. I notice how you appreciate my presence and the things I do for you. You may be young, but my love, I see you maturing before my eyes and taking less for granted. I see a heart of gratitude growing within you.
You have been gifted with understanding and resilience. You’re beginning to understand that sometimes the needs of others come before your own. Through it all, my child, you’ve shown incredible resilience. While your routine has been shaken and turned upside down, you have done a wonderful job of moving forward.
You have been gifted with tenderness. Your heart has undergone a beautiful transformation in that you are more sensitive to others' needs and you love big. I see your new-found tenderness with your sibling as you gently love on his tiny frame with soft tones and delicate touches.
You have been gifted with new empathy. You now possess an ability to see others in a new light. You recognize the adversity your sibling has faced and I see how you love him for it. I see your eyes full of admiration and I hear you call him brave for all that he has been through. I hear the concern and compassion in your voice when he cries, and I see you quickly run to his side.
I Am So Proud of You
Yes, my love, I know this has not been easy. I know this is far from how we envisioned things. I want you to know that through it all, I am so proud of you! I am so proud of how you handled such a difficult time with maturity and grace. I am so proud of how you stepped up when we needed you to, and how you blossomed into an even more beautiful version of yourself. You have not lost your two people, you have gained another and have transformed into someone I always prayed for you to become. We, your new sibling included, are so blessed to have you in our lives.
Jessika Sanders is a published writer who has been featured in Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Hope When Your Heart is Heavy devotional (2021), Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. magazine (2023), and Tyndale’s So God Made a Mother (2023). You can also find her work here on the Praying Through blog and a number of other internet blogs. Jessika is also the founder and president of Praying Through ministries.