In the midst of the chaos of a high-risk pregnancy and a NICU stay, it can be so hard to see the light during what can feel like a long, dark journey.
This experience can be traumatic.
It can make you feel on edge.
It can drop your mood.
It can make you feel hopeless.
But as you are on this rollercoaster, you can do things to protect yourself and heal from the trauma that you're experiencing.
Gratitude is one such powerful healing tool.
Gratitude promotes resilience and happiness and is so important for our overall wellbeing.
Let's be clear though.
We are not talking about the "I should be grateful instead of feeling bad" or the "things could be worse" type of gratitude.
Statements like that simply invalidate how you feel and push your true emotions inside.
Suppressing those feelings is like burying dyamite. (Tweet that!)
Pushing your feelings aside builds stress in your body and your emotions will find a way to come out some other way.
So no, not that kind of gratitude.
But the kind of gratitude where you take a deep breath, look around and you appreciate what you have, right here, right now so you can find some peace.
Authentic gratitude is your answer.
Authentic gratitude is when you can acknowledge all of the emotions that you feel - the good, the bad, the ugly - and still feel appreciative for something in your life right now.
Your life may not look anything like you had wanted.
You may be on bedrest, alone and scared.
You may be waiting for test results that you are dreading to receive.
You may be in the NICU, your baby's whole hand unable to wrap around your index finger.
You may be in the waiting room while your little one is in surgery.
And that can bring up so many different emotions, from anger to sadness to grief to resentment.
But it is possible to feel thankful at the same time.
What you are grateful for doesn’t have to be anything profound or deep.
Perhaps you’re grateful for the medical advancements that have developed the medication you’re on that is helping you stay pregnant.
Or you’re grateful for the nurse who stops by every morning to tell you the weather outside while you’re stuck on hospital bedrest.
Maybe you’re grateful for your partner’s smile, the flowers on your end table or the internet for being able to stay connected with your friends and family.
The reality about gratitude.
When you are authentically grateful, you recognize that being thankful does not erase any of the other emotions that you feel.
Gratitude is not meant to replace any of your other emotions. (Tweet that!)
It is simply meant to help you get through the next week, the next day or the next hour while you’re scared and worried about your baby’s future.
It is meant to give you some balance in what you see and experience so you can remain hopeful about your baby’s health.
Ready to start practicing authentic gratitude? Every evening before you sleep, write down 1-3 things that you are grateful for from the day.
Share what you're grateful for in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!