At some point during a high-risk pregnancy, women ask themselves this question.
That question can com in many forms: What did I do to cause this? What did I do to deserve this? How come I couldn't have a simple, easy pregnancy?
No matter how it shows up for you, almost every woman with a complicated pregnancy asks herself this.
Maybe it entered your mind after devastating news about your health your baby's health. Or it pops up for you every night when the house is quiet, your partner is asleep as you hug your body pillow wishing it is your baby that you will eventually hold. Perhaps it hits you mid-afternoon when you're on bed rest, watching your third movie, alone with your baby, and the weight of the responsibility that's your shoulders feels extra heavy.
Whatever your trigger is, you aren't alone in wondering this.
The silent driver of these questions is grief
It is absolutely natural to wonder why a terrifying experience, such as your high-risk pregnancy, is happening to you.
You're grieving the loss of a dream, healthy pregnancy and the vision that you'll have a healthy baby to bring home at the end of your pregnancy. You're grieving the loss of safety and security, the loss of innocence and even ignorance that pregnancy can be anything but a blissful experience. Your high-risk pregnancy has impacted your relationship with your partner, your other children, your friends, all of which come with grief.
You weren't ready and you weren't expecting so much to change.
While you may still bring home that chubby, squishy, pink baby, the uncertainty of that experience - the very fact that it is in question at all - is enough to trigger grief and thus the question, "Why me?".
Asking "why me?" is a way for you to find answers during an incredibly precarious time.
Hearing from your doctor that, "This just happens" or "We don't know why this happens to some women/babies" can be almost as difficult to cope with (if not more so) than the complication you're facing.
You start questioning everything you've eaten, you've done, you haven't done, all with the hope that you can pinpoint exactly what caused you to have a high-risk pregnancy, to bleed, to have a weak cervix, to have high blood pressure.
You want to believe that if you can pinpoint exactly what caused your high-risk pregnancy, you can find a way to undo it and get back in control. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. (Tweet that!)
In searching for answers to "Why me?" and "What did I do to cause this" you can fall into the harmful trap of self-blame.
You start to think about decisions you made, believing wholeheartedly that if you hadn't made that decision or done that one thing, you wouldn't be in this situation.
You're certain hosting your partner's birthday party is why your cervix started shortening.
You're sure indulging in craving for burgers is why you're on watch for pre-eclampsia.
You believe that you did something in your past life or prior to your pregnancy that caused you to deserve this.
That guilt is prime breeding ground for anxiety, depression and additional stress, all of which impact your pregnancy and your baby. (Tweet that!)
Specifically, stress and anxiety are closely associated with preterm contractions and delivering prematurely. Depression has been shown to increase your risk of gestational diabetes and delivering a baby with low birth weight.
You don't need additional risk factors when you're already going through a high-risk pregnancy!
When you find yourself asking, "why me?", instead of turning the blame on yourself, try this.
Turn the why into what.
Instead of asking yourself, "Why me?" or "Why is this happening?" ask yourself, "What can I do right now to have a healthier pregnancy?" "What can I do to make my situation better right now?"
Short-term solutions can include distracting yourself with a good movie or book, journaling, taking a nap or venting to a friend.
Longer-term solutions that can have a profound impact on your pregnancy can include improving your sleep hygeine, tweaking your diet so it improves your mood as well as bringing your physical and emotional stress down.
By focusing on the what, you are putting yourself back in control of your pregnancy.
Remember that a high-risk pregnancy is just an increased risk for complications. It is not a predictive statement about what will definitely happen. (Tweet that!)
That's why it's critical you make daily efforts to improve the health of your pregnancy. How you think, how you feel, how well you sleep and eat all have a positive impact on your pregnancy and can improve your chances of staying pregnant and giving your baby a healthy start to life.
You can do this.