Danielle Fishel Sums Up the Roller Coaster of Emotions When You Have a NICU Baby

“We feel helpless and powerless and useless, and we wanted so badly to follow our ‘birth plan,’ unsurprisingly none of which involved leaving our beautiful baby boy at the hospital...”
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Associate Editor
Published July 2, 2019

Parents who welcome a NICU baby into the world know what it’s like to experience pure joy and utter despair all wrapped up into one. You know the NICU is the best place for baby, who will be surrounded by doctors and nurses doing everything in their power so you can finally take your child home, yet you simply wish baby could be home now. You’re not alone, and neither is Danielle Fishel.

Last week, the Boy Meets World actress gave birth at 35 weeks pregnant when her OB discovered fluid in the baby’s lungs that wasn’t there at the last appointment. “And thus, we entered a nightmare we’ll never forget,” Fishel says. As a result of the complication, her newborn son, Adler, has to stay in the NICU for an unknown amount of time. In an Instagram post, Fishel explains what the past week has been like, and the many emotions she and her partner are grappling with. Ask any parent who’s gone through a similar experience, and they’d likely agree with her account.

“We still don’t have Adler home with us because the deeply good doctors and nurses in the NICU are working diligently to find out why the fluid is there and determine the best way to get it out,” she says. “This has been the most trying week and a half of mine and Jensen Karp’s lives, but we have gotten through it with the support of our incredible family and friends who have shown up for us in unexpected ways.”

Like many new parents, Fishel and her husband are torn between opposing emotions. On the one hand, they’re overjoyed to finally meet their son and want to “shout it from the rooftops,” but on the other, they wish the circumstances were different. “We feel helpless and powerless and useless, and we wanted so badly to follow our ‘birth plan,’ unsurprisingly none of which involved leaving our beautiful baby boy at the hospital for the first weeks of his life,” the actress writes.

Until the new parents get to bring their baby home, however, they’re making the most of the special bond they’re forming with their child while he stays at the hospital. “He hates having a poopy diaper for even one minute, he loves bath time, he has the cutest sneezes I’ve ever heard,” Fishel lists. “I can’t wait to share more details about him with you.”

Their experience is all-too-familiar for anyone who’s had a child who needed NICU attention. Whether it’s because they’re born prematurely, underweight or with other health conditions, parents often find themselves visiting their newborns in the NICU instead of heading home together. And it can be heartbreaking. We’ve tapped experts to help you navigate it and all the emotional stress it can bring. Check out their top tips on how to survive your baby’s NICU stay.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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