It has been a while since my last blog, due to my unexpected early maternity leave. I am so happy to be able to connect again. After you read through, I would love to hear about your favorite coping skills that you have used in difficult situations that you have faced. Feel free to share in the comments below.
January 14, 2019. That's the date I shared many many times. To clients, family members, friends, doctors… anyone who asked when I was due with our first baby boy. This was the date that I was planning for and looking forward to. But on December 15th, it became apparent that date would not be the time that my boy would arrive. I woke up that morning to prepare for a birthing class that we were supposed to be in all day, and there was definitely something wrong.. I didn't feel him moving nor could I get him to move, and there was pure panic.
Thoughts raced through my mind:
"Is he going to be okay?"
"He can't be coming yet, he needs to continue to grow."
"Is there something wrong with me?"
"Am I going to be okay?"
We got to the hospital and frantically filled out paperwork, so that we could be seen as soon as possible. They brought me back into the room and plugged me in to a bunch of monitors. The sound of his heart beat filled the room and I was instantly relieved. I even clarified with my husband that his heart beat was what I was hearing, he confirmed.
That day felt like a flash of events that were swirling around my head like the speed of light. Moment to moment things changed.
“Everything seems normal, you are probably going home”
“You are having a baby”
“Your baby is coming today or tomorrow”
"We are going to let your body go into labor naturally"
“We are inducing you in 3 hours”
... I was in a whirlwind of emotions. I frankly didn’t know what to do with them all. As soon as I came to terms with one thing that they told me, it would change. I would cry, I would smile, I would feel a rush of anxiety. I felt ALL sorts of emotions. I was so ready to meet my baby boy, but a MONTH early!?
“Was I ready?”
“Was he going to be okay and healthy?”
“Would he have to stay in the NICU for the next month”?
“Would something happen to me?”
“Would I be able to do this?”
It all happened SO fast. I was just trying to grasp it all. He was arriving a month early and there was nothing that we could do about it. All we could do was hope that he was going to be healthy and not have any complications. That was such a helpless feeling, because there was literally nothing that I could do to guarantee that.
The morning of December 16th, my son entered the world. He was monitored for the first 24 hours, but surpassed all expectations and passed all of the tests he needed to. He didn't have to stay one day in the NICU. He didn't have any issues with his lungs, which was their fear. He was healthy. The worst that he faced was having to go through blue light therapy for Jaundice. We returned to the hospital just days after leaving to treat it, but we only had to stay one day. He was a champ and had lower levels than the doctor was even expecting. We were so blessed and thankful.
It was difficult to return to the hospital, just days after leaving. But I tried to remind myself that this was such a treatable health issue for him to face and I was grateful that it wasn't something more serious.
But… there was also grief. When everything slowed down and there were no family or friends around and things were quiet, there was grief. I questioned myself, "How in the world could there be grief out of this beautiful thing that just happened!?" My first child was just born and he is healthy, despite all of the circumstances. It didn't feel like I had permission to feel negative emotions and especially when all I SHOULD be feeling was happiness.
There was grief in the fact that I didn’t get to mentally prepare for EVERYTHING to change and in the blink of an eye.
There was grief in the fact that I had a preemie. I was supposed to have a healthy full term baby.
There was grief in the fact that everything happened so quickly, and I didn’t have clear memories of it all.
There was grief in returning home with a newborn and things being unfinished, not built, and feeling completely unprepared. It wasn't how I pictured bringing my son home.
There was grief in the fact that we had to go back to the hospital just days after leaving.
There was grief. And you know what? That was okay. I was allowed to feel the grief that was present, simply, BECAUSE it was present. I had just faced many ups and downs and as I came down from all of the adrenaline racing through my body, I was allowed to feel whatever emotion came up, including grief. I just had to give myself permission to do so.
In so many ways, this situation forced me to live out the strategies that I talk to my clients about EVERY day. I was deep in the emotions and I had no choice but to face them.
So how did I face the unknown?
I had a choice.
I could let the unknown completely debilitate me and shut down, or I could face each situation the best that I knew how. I saw such a difference in my ability to face the situations once I chose not to try and control them. Instead, I chose to take them as they came, one by one, and this felt much more manageable.
I lived in the moment.
I tried so hard to continue to plan out this process that was ahead of me and my sweet sweet nurse, a blessing sent from above, said to me, “You need to stop trying to plan for what is next, because it’s completely out of your control.” I needed that gentle but direct push to just be in the moment. I couldn’t predict what would happen. As much as I wanted to prepare for what was to come, I couldn't. There were emotions that came that were unexpected and this was all completely out of my control. I just had to be willing to take each situation as it came and face whatever it looked like, moment to moment.
I took deep breaths.
Once I finally came to terms with the fact that there was nothing I could do to control the situation, I breathed. The breathing helped calm my nerves as each new situation came. In order to handle each new situation, I had to let the emotions come up, acknowledge them, accept them, and breathe through them. There was nothing I could do, except try to not be stressed - that wasn't going to help my baby.
I said “I need help”.
There was a lot that occurred over the few days that I spent in the hospital and from the moment I entered that building, I needed support. Life is not intended to be faced alone. The support and community around us was palpable and made everything so much more bearable. But, I had to be willing to accept that I needed the help and ask for it.
Life is beautiful and unknown.
So, there were good feelings and there were hard feelings, just as there often are in life, but it was all beautiful. Life throws curve balls at us, and often times, we are not ready for them. We can't prepare for every situation in life and sometimes we just have to take them as they come, breathe through them, and reach out for support.
Thank you for living this journey with me and I look forward to connecting with each of you on my return!
Have a great week,
Brittany Wingfield, MS, LPC
Ready to Schedule your appointment?
Nurtured Hearts Counseling's Blog
I am a Licensed Therapist in Lone Tree, Colorado and my goal for this blog is to explore taboo subjects that no one is willing to talk about and I am eager to bring awareness to.