"Having a baby in the NICU is a crisis, but it is also a time of celebration as you welcome a new baby. People don't know how to feel." This comes from Lori Gunther, manager of NICU Family Support Site Development at the March of Dimes and an expert in crisis intervention and family-centered care in the NICU setting.
Recognizing the different emotions you may have can help. Gunther has a son who spent time in the NICU. One of her first emotions was guilt. A friend, who is an OB/GYN, immediately told her, "Whatever else you remember, you did not cause this." With that, she was able to set the guilt aside. This is a key message she has for others.
Take another example, Shellie Seidman Golivesky, whose now 2-year-old son Devin was hustled to the NICU. She says, "My emotions were out of whack, and I was an emotional mess. There was this tiny little boy, and I felt completely helpless!"
Guilt (although unfounded) and helplessness are expected. You may go through a wide range of emotions, such as panic, anxiety, fear, denial, apathy and loneliness.