Let me tell you about one of THE strongest women I know. Her name is Brandi. Tears flow down my face when I think of the pain and the heartache that she has endured since she became a mom. Brandi is a mom to three sweet boys. Not just one, but all three of her babies were in the NICU after they were born, due to being born prematurely, because of circumstances beyond Brandi’s control. Brandi’s first son is a beautiful blond toddler, busy keeping up with and running around with his cousins. Brandi’s second son was in the NICU for two weeks, before he went home to be with Jesus. He left behind a family that will never, ever forget him or stop missing him. No one can ever take his place in their hearts. Right now, Brandi is in the NICU with her third newborn, who just recently entered the world, who has already blown us all away with his incredible courage to fight to survive, so that he can go home with his mommy, daddy, and brother.

Brandi’s incredible bravery, beauty, and strength have inspired me to pen this letter to any and all NICU moms. May you know that you are seen, you are prayed for, and you are loved.Dear NICU Mom,

You just experienced the most joyous day of your life—the birth of your child. And then, just like that, your sweet, fresh, newborn babe was rushed away from you. I can’t fathom the mix of joy and fear, of hope and anxiety, that is churning in your heart.

This is not the joyous day that you have anticipated for months. This is not the euphoria that you have heard others talk about when they share their birth stories… This joyous dream is slipping through your fingers, and becoming a nightmare before your eyes. You only want one thing—for this nightmare to end, so that you can take your baby home. To start your new life together as a family. But, it’s not about you in this moment. It’s not about your gargantuan fears or your ghastly anxieties. It is about your precious son or daughter, that sweet little angel that you haven’t even gotten to hold, the one that bears the name that you chose, lying in that incubator, hooked up to so many tubes and machines. Now, sweet, exhausted Mommy, you must focus every fiber of your being on being strong for your little one. You may not be able to hold him or her close yet, but your baby still needs you. You are your baby’s mommy. That incubator, though lifesaving, is not your angel’s greatest need.

His greatest need is you. He needs the mad, raging love that is gushing out of your heart, for that beautiful soul. From the top of his vernix-crowned head, to the tips of those ten little toes that you are anxious to kiss, that sweet baby loves you, and he will always need you. Nothing that you will ever do in your life is more important than what you are doing right now, Mommy. In your heart, you know that more than anyone else in the world, more than those of us who were lucky enough never to experience the NICU with our little ones.

Here you are, NICU mommy. Praying for your little one the most fervent prayers that have ever crossed the threshold of heaven. Showing strength that could crush Samson and decimate Goliath. Who knew that you had this strength in you, tucked down in the deepest part of your heart? It was always stored in that hidden little part of your heart marked “Mommy,” like a present meant for your child to open on the day that he was born. The power of your mommy strength has surprised even you. And it has awed and astounded everyone around you.

NICU Mommy, there is nothing I can say or do to relieve the pain of watching your baby suffer and struggle. I must simply offer my dumbfounded, desperate prayers for you, for him, for the doctors, for

the nurses, for the hospital, day in and day out. For me, my life continues. But for you, time has indefinitely stood still.

NICU Mommy, I see you. Your family and your friends see you. We are in your corner. We are cheering on your little fighter. We don’t know how long this chapter in your life will last, but we pray that it will be over soon. And then, all that fortitude that you so heroically mustered in the NICU will be like a crown that you wear when you get to hold your baby, when you get to be mommy to your babe AT HOME, together as a family. And your sweet child will have that strength too. You bequeathed it to him during those days in the NICU. He is, and will always be, a fighter.

Thank you, NICU mom. Thank you for showing me what true maternal strength looks like. May I acquire it, may I too wield it in my momentary mommy struggles, in whatever life brings me. You are truly what this world needs more of.