One of the questions I am asked most frequently from women who have experienced a high-risk pregnancy or who have delivered early and had a baby in the NICU is:
How do I forgive myself?
The guilt feels so real and makes you believe that you deserve to put that blame yourself for not being able to protect your baby.
But by being able to forgive yourself, you're not only able to heal from trauma, the sadness, the grief, the loss and all the pain that you have gone through while you were fighting for your baby.
By being able to forgive yourself, you're also opening yourelf up to being more present and really being able to enjoy all the special moments that are happening right now, right around you and all the special moments that are to come. (Tweet that!)
Here's how you start:
I know it can feel hard to do this. Sometimes even impossible.
Make a list of all the things you are doing and have done to protect your baby. I promise you've done a lot! (Tweet that!)
Here are a few examples:
Being on bedrest, you sacrificed so much.
You sacrificed your job - maybe you had to quit or take a leave of absence or maybe you even lost your job. You my have experienced a change in income for your family because of this too.
You sacrificed your relationship with your partner and your other children so it looked different than what you expected or wanted.
You didn't get to attend many of the events you wanted to go to like weddings, graduations or other celebrations for your friends and loved ones.
You went through all that because you were protecting your baby.
And all those medications!
You took medications with all kinds of side effects for your health complications or to stay pregnant longer. You used messy suppositories and got bruises and welts from the injections.
You were hooked up to IVs in hospital to help you stay pregnant longer that made you feel like a truck was running over you all day long.
You withstood all of that because you were protecting your baby.
You trekked to the NICU.
Every time you went to the NICU, whether it was once a week or 15 hours a day every day, you wer there when you could be.
And when you were there, you loved your baby and cared for your baby in a way that no one else could do. You spoke up for your baby every time you knew he or she needed something.
You did that becuase you were protecting your baby.
You deserve credit for all of that.
I know it can feel lie you did something wrong.
I know it can feel like you're at fault and you're to blame for everything that happened while you were pregnant or because you delivered early.
Here's the reality
Women who are able to deliver at term or who have a healthy pregnancy don't do anything differently or anything extra that you didn't do.
A high-risk pregnancy and a preterm birth can happen to anyone. (Tweet that!)
So you deserve the opportunity to forgive yourself. It will take time. So give yourself all the time that you need.
Take it one day, one step, sometimes even one breath at a time. But you will get there.
I know you can do this.