When Life Feels Hard and Unfair: 4 Lessons That Helped Me Cope

Posted by on March 4, 2017 in Conscious Living, Conscious Parenting with 0 Comments

By Amy Beth Acker | Tiny Buddha

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” ~William James

Two years ago, I gave birth to my second daughter via a planned C-section at thirty-seven weeks.


My first daughter had been born via emergency C-section after seventeen hours of unmedicated labor. I had very much wanted a natural, intervention-free birth. Due to a number of issues, the surgery was so complicated that I was told it would be dangerous to ever go into labor, much less have a natural birth ever again.

Of course, this was devastating for me.

Still, I went into surgery on the morning of my daughter’s birth with hope and excitement. My second pregnancy had been extremely difficult and I was glad for it to be over. I was still heartbroken that I would never get the chance for a natural delivery, but at the same time there was a piece of me that was a bit relieved the decision had been taken away from me.

My second C-section proved to be even more complicated than my first. The surgery went at a snail’s pace as the doctors tried to navigate the extensive scar tissue created by my first C-section. The spinal anesthesia made me unable to feel myself breathing even though I was breathing just fine, and I panicked and repeatedly questioned whether I was suffocating and going to die.


Still, pictures of me and my daughter in the recovery room right after the birth show me smiling in a highly medicated but contented glow.

It was a few minutes after those pictures were taken that the nurse noticed there was something wrong with my newborn’s breathing. It was labored and staggered. The medical team decided that they would take her to the NICU to make sure everything was okay.

In my post-surgical stupor, I didn’t think much of it. I figured they would observe her for a few hours and she would be back in my arms by the time I made it out of recovery.

I was wrong.

My daughter spent the next ten days in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) with a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension secondary to transient tachypnea. She was kept alive by various tubes and machines, and I got a crash course in C-PAPs, oxygen monitor readings, and feeding tubes.

I wasn’t allowed to hold her for the first five days because her situation was so precarious and unstable.

I knew it was extremely serious when her NICU roommate, a baby born three months early, was wheeled to another room because my daughter was going into crisis every time someone turned on a light or spoke too closely to her.

It killed me to watch her covered in tubes and machines, unable to hold her, much less breastfeed her. I stood by, helplessly pumping milk every three hours and putting her life in the hands of the NICU nurses, who were clearly angels sent directly from heaven.

I struggled with massive guilt that my body had failed me in my first childbirth experience, leading to the mandatory early C-section and all of its complications for my second daughter. I also felt guilty every time I left the NICU to spend time with my older daughter and every time I left my older daughter to go to the NICU.

I was angry. Angry that this happened. Angry with myself for not appreciating how much worse it could have been when I was surrounded by parents and babies who would be spending months, not days, within the NICU’s walls.

Despite the severity of her condition, my daughter’s story was one of mighty strength and resilience, and she left the NICU with no lasting complications—a major blessing for any NICU baby.

My story was one of lessons learned: how to forgive myself, how to let go of what I want to be and embrace what is, how to truly live in the moment, and how to practice unconditional gratitude. Most of all, I discovered new depths to the meaning of the word love.

Though it took me spending ten days with my daughter in the NICU to learn these lessons, they are universal and certainly don’t require a crisis to integrate them into even the most mundane aspects of our lives.

I share them with you in the hopes that if you’re dealing with pain in your life, you will bring to it the knowledge that while the pain may be unavoidable, the suffering is always optional.

Here’s what ten days in the NICU taught me:

Focus on the present.

For several days, my daughter’s condition seemed to get progressively worse before it got better.

This made it very easy for me to get lost in a never-ending maze of what if’s, each more terrifying than the next.

And yet, when I forced myself to focus on the moment, somehow things were always manageable.

Yes, she was hooked up to a lot of scary and unpleasant machines, but she was surrounded by a nest of soft blankets, and for all she knew, she was still in the womb.

Yes, she turned blue when she cried, but the nurses and doctors always got things stable quickly, and with no drama. They knew what they were doing and I knew I could trust them.

I learned quickly that the future was a place where the worst loomed both possible and probable. The present was a place where my daughter was safe, loved, and receiving some of the best care the world had to offer.

If you find yourself in the middle of a crisis, you probably feel like you’re trapped in a whirlwind that’s pulling you in so many different directions, you’re having a hard time figuring out which way is up.

Instead of picturing yourself as powerless against the chaos of the situation, try thinking of yourself as the eye of a storm. While chaos may reign around you, the present moment is always manageable.

Remember that while the future seems scary with all its unknowns and possibilities, the future also doesn’t exist yet. All we have is this moment. And in this moment, there can be peace.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE……

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