5 Ways to Brighten a NICU Mom's Mother's Day

05/08/2015 03:36 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2016

Did you ever wonder what you could do to brighten a Mother's Day for a mom struggling with a sick child in the hospital?

All holidays are difficult when you have a child in the hospital fighting for their life. Luckily, most people never have to worry about it.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for some mothers on this Mother's Day. I can only speak for what it's like to have a baby in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) on Mother's Day -- and that I don't wish on any mom!

My daughter was born just before Mother's Day in 2012. She was born 17 weeks early, weighing just 1 lb. 4 oz. (575 grams) and was not even the length of a ruler. She was born way too early and was in critical condition. I spent Mother's Day in the NICU worrying about if she would live or die and I also had three other children at home who wanted to celebrate with me. Saying it was difficult is an understatement.


Here is a list of five things you can do to brighten up a NICU mom's Mother's Day, but most can be applied to any mom with a child in the hospital on Mother's Day:

1. Send her flowers. Many mothers with a baby in the NICU will spend every waking minute at their bedside and the whole day will pass without them being recognized at all. Being greeted by flowers upon returning home from a difficult day will make her feel special. Plus, there is something about flowers that causes us to pause and relax (stop and smell the roses) and NICU moms need some of that!

2. Give her a meal. If you know a NICU mom spending her Mother's Day in the hospital with her baby, stop by and drop off a meal with some plastic champagne glasses and a bottle of sparkling cider (mom might be nursing or pumping breast milk). Maybe mom and husband/partner can sit outside and enjoy a special moment celebrating Mother's Day without leaving the hospital.

3. Give her a crafty gift. Many mothers (and I was one of them) cannot even hold their NICU baby for over a month due to their fragile state, so us moms just sit and stare at an isolette for hours on end and wait for the opportunity to help change a diaper or take a temperature- so that we feel like we are mothering our babies. Those can be depressing days. A mother's instinct it to nurture their baby and in many cases that is not possible. So, why not get mom a scrapbook and some stickers and offer to print some pictures of her baby for her so that she can spend her time creating something beautiful for her baby (other than breast milk!). Mom will feel like she is participating and doing something for her baby and that is what every NICU mom wants.

4. Offer to help. Why not offer to run an errand for mom? Maybe she has no time to go food shopping or get Mother's Day gifts for her own mother. Offer to run some errands and help. Or, if she is willing and you are close enough, offer to sit at her baby's bedside for a an hour or two while mom runs her own errands, gets a haircut or pedicure or even goes for a walk or naps in her car!

5. Last but most important -- wish her a Happy Mother's Day. Many NICU babies are so critically ill and don't have a great prognosis, and this causes friends and family to avoid the NICU mom because they just don't know what to say. Some people even say "I'm so sorry" to NICU moms. That is what not to do! No matter how dire the prognosis- their mother is their mother and should be wished a Happy Mother's Day!