This post is near and dear to my heart. It’s funny how certain topics can trigger deep seeded emotions in someone, and well, this topic does that for me. When someone I know is going through a difficult pregnancy, I can feel their emotions in my heart and I ache for them, because I too had a very challenging one with my first born daughter.
Just a brief story about my first pregnancy for those who don’t know me:
My husband and I were told shorty after my twenty week ultrasound that our beautiful baby girl had Polycystic Kidney Disease – it was said her kidneys had not developed normally, and instead of Mila having normal kidney tissue, her kidney’s were covered in cysts. The specialists told us that likely her kidney’s wouldn’t function past only a few years old, but they wouldn’t know any more until she was born.
On top of the realization that our little girl had organ dysfunction, I went in to pre-term labour at thirty weeks (which thankfully they were able to manage with bedrest). Then, at thirty six weeks I developed HELLP Syndrome, a severe form of Pre-Eclampsia which almost took my life. The cure was to give birth (as my body was essentially “rejecting” the baby), so I was given an emergency c-section under general anesthetic where I was unable to meet my daughter for 24 hours due to my critical health status. I was in the Intensive Care Unit where blood tranfusions, anti-stroke/seizure medication, blood pressure medication, and the grace of God saved my life. Mila was in the NICU for one week due to difficulties with feeding and monitoring of her kidneys.
If anyone knows a miracle, it is certainly us as Mila’s kidneys are completely healthy now and I am here today sharing this story.
The reality is that most pregnancies are “normal”. It can be such a beautiful, incredibly special time in a woman’s life. However, that isn’t the case for all of us. This post is for the women who are facing a challenging pregnancy – one that may be full of concerns, uncertainties, fears and doubts.
I have created a list of 6 things I did to find my strength during both pregnancies, and I hope these suggestions help you do the same.
1.Don’t Google Your Condition
When I was told Mila had Polycystic Kidney Disease, the first thing I did when I got home was google her condition. Let me tell you, this was one of the worst mistakes I made. All of the deep fears I had about her future were confirmed for me when I hit the search button. My heart sank as I scrolled through page after page of the worst possible outcomes. I wanted hope, I wanted to see the stories that were positive and uplifting, but I found none.
This is what good old Dr.Google does – it’s full of worst case scenarios and inaccurate information, and you will end up increasing your worry by one thousand percent when likely the worst case won’t happen. So, bottom line, resist the urge!
2. Honour Your Feelings
I spent a great deal of my pregnancy holding my emotions in and trying to be strong. It wasn’t until I went into preterm labour that I got home from the hospital and fell to the floor in tears. I probably spent an hour crying and praying…and then crying and praying some more. I held it in for so long because I didn’t want to feel weak and I didn’t want to worry everyone else. Can you relate to this?
Sometimes life has a way of throwing everything at you at once. It leaves you feeling desperate, helpless, and completely heart broken. When it does this, allow yourself to grieve. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable, to yell or cry…to do whatever you need to do to feel a small bit of release.
Don’t judge yourself and make assumptions about how you SHOULD feel…you are going through a traumatic experience and the way you process your emotions is unique to you, and that is OK.
3. Focus on Hope
The one thing that kept me going through my pregnancy was hope. It was this incredibly deep and strong belief that we will all be OK. I knew that I had no choice but to move forward with the information I had been given, and the only thing I had complete control over was how I dealt with my thoughts and emotions relating to my situation.
Feeling hopeful isn’t always easy – I know this. But, if you’re facing a challenging pregnancy, make it your mission to fill your heart and your life with so much positive…so much faith, so much best case scenario thoughts that only the good can come in.
Be deliberate in your pursuit of hope. Prayer, meditation, and self help books made my journey so much easier. Find what lifts you up and keep doing it every.single.day.
4. Find Your People
When you’re given a difficult diagnosis during pregnancy, it can leave you feeling alone. It’s not always easy for other people to understand the emotions you’re dealing with, and this can increase your level of sadness. What I realized is that we can’t always expect our loved ones to “get it”. They aren’t you, and they aren’t in your body. They aren’t carrying a perfect little human while simultensouly getting concerning news and having to deal with ALL of that.
My biggest advice is to find people you love and trust to open up to, and be very clear about what you need from them and how they can support you. This may sound strange, but it was the best advice I was given during my first prengnacy. Find your tribe and allow them in. If you need more emotional support or you could use an evening out, tell them. Don’t expect them to “just know”…unfortunately, it doesn’t always work this way.
5. Make Your Health A Priority
After my diagnosis with Mila, I never felt like eating. Emotions can be all consuming and this can greatly influence how well we take care of our bodies physically. With that said, make it your mission to focus on your health. Eat regular meals and snacks, try and spend as much time as possible outside in nature as this can be incredibly healing. Exercise if you can, and make yourself a priority.
6. Distraction, Distraction, Distraction
When you’re dealing with a complicated pregnancy, the days seem to go by so very slowly. It’s as if time stops for 9 months, and you’re counting down the days until you can meet your little one in hopes that you are both perfectly healthy. I get it, oh boy I get it.
Try and distract yourself as much as possible. Find a new hobby, set up weekly date nights with your partner, plan a weekend away if you can. Do whatever you need to do to take your mind off of the difficulties you’re facing and do this as often as possible until you give birth.
The more time you have sit and think about all of your worries and fears, the harder it is. You don’t want to pretend they aren’t happening (denial isn’t healthy either), but you do want to keep your mind off of the thoughts that aren’t helpful to you in any way.
If you’re going through a challenging pregnancy, I hope these suggestions are helpful. I love hearing other women’s stories and learning more about their journeys through pregnancy. Connect & Comment Below with yours!