Yesterday, my husband shared a quote with me that can roughly be translated into something like: Joy does not last forever. So why would pain and grief? I know that for many of you, life is extremely challenging right now, and I want to honor your struggles. Words are a weak solace for what so many of us are going through.
But I also want a share a story from my life that I was reminded of as I read that quote.
19 years ago, I was pregnant with twins. Everything was going great, until one day in my 21 st week, I felt something was wrong. It was. I was in the early stages of labor and had to be admitted right away.
That night, I advanced to the next stage. I was taken to the pre-delivery room, and a doctor came to explain the survival prognosis to me and my husband. If I were to deliver that night (which is where I was headed), there was a 0.6% chance that both babies would be normal. They weighed just over a pound each, less than the weight of a loaf of bread. We listened in shock and disbelief. Our lives had changed overnight and nothing made sense. As the delivery preparations continued and doctor after doctor came to introduce themselves and explain the process, I began crying uncontrollably. I’m crying as I’m typing this…
I didn’t deliver that night. I was on bed-rest in the hospital. I had to lie absolutely flat, could only sit for meals, and was poked and pierced every morning. The doctors suggested that I should be induced because I was almost in active labor. It was unsafe to leave me on bed-rest given the babies would need immediate intensive care, and the hospital wouldn’t be prepared.
Thinking back, I don’t know how I found the courage to stand my ground. I refused to be induced, I loosened the monitors that – contractions when they were less than 4 minutes apart. I’d understood my body well enough to know that I could calm my contractions by calming my mind.
I wasn’t always successful. In the 14 weeks that I was there, I was rushed to the pre-delivery room another 3 times. Thankfully, I managed to make my way back every time.
I finally delivered 2 healthy babies just as their 34 th week came to an end. The doctors had told me that it was the cut-off point when all internal development of the fetus is complete (barring putting on pounds). It was the target I’d mentally set myself. And I worked hard every single day to manage my anxieties, keep the worst possible (and highly likely) scenario out of mind, and honor the struggle moment by moment by moment.
I share this story simply to say that life sometimes throws us challenges that we weren’t prepared for. This is one such time for so many of us. But I want you to know that as human beings, we’re remarkably resilient. We hope. We adapt. We fight for what we value.
I want you to remember that as you carry on. Know why you need to do what you need to do. What are your values that underpin it? In this global crisis, we each have been assigned a role. Yours may be to isolate yourself from your friends, or to lead your children or your team. It may be to help those in greater need, or take on the excruciatingly difficult role of a frontline worker. Keeping your role in mind helps you show up with your whole self.
Secondly, remind yourself of the courage that lives within you. If you doubt it, look back at your life. It’s impossible that you’re reading this today without having survived challenge after challenge of your own. What helped you in those times? What strengths can you harness again? Who are the people you can turn to for advice? Because we were never meant to do life alone; even in physical distancing, we have to stay emotionally connected.
And when things seem too hard (because they will), reassess your thoughts and behaviors. Do you remind yourself of your why every day? Do you celebrate your progress, however small and inconsequential it may seem to you? Your role is not to change the world. It’s simply to do your part. And importantly, where are you spending your time? Are you hooked on non-stop news and fearful thinking? Or are you taking care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing?
If you need help with calming anxiety and managing your wellbeing, please join us this Thursday at 5 pm Eastern for a free webinar. I’ll share strategies to stay resilient for the long haul, as well as answer questions that will help you deal with your challenges.