Three lessons I learnt going through tricky times…

It feels quite strange to return to blogging after a 14 month break (has it really been that long?!). I used to do it every few weeks, and have been out of action for a while. So, where have I been?

Well, I had a baby! Our baby boy decided to make a surprise early appearance in late 2020 – three months ahead of his due date. He had to stay in hospital for just under four months, but thanks for the amazing NHS staff that looked after him at Homerton Hospital he’s been happy, healthy and keeping us very busy at home for a while now – hence the radio silence on my blog!

Luckily, I’ve still been able to do some coaching work for the last few months, but haven’t quite managed to prioritise writing a blog amid balancing new parenthood.

It’s been a challenging couple of years for many people (to say the least!) and I thought I would share with you three lessons I learnt navigating having a premature baby during a pandemic.

Lesson 1) Take everything one day at a time

There has been so much uncertainty for many of us the last couple of years – we haven’t known how Covid will impact our friends, family or ourselves. Not knowing how long this uncertainty is going to last has also been hard, with many of us staying glued to the news trying to fortune tell how things will pan out.

When our baby was in hospital, we had no idea how long he was going to be there for. Doctors (understandably) didn’t want to raise hopes unfairly, so we had no clue how long his recovery might take, or how the recovery would go.

It become so important for me and my husband to take things step by step, and focus on one day at a time. It may sounds obvious, but trying to stay present, and focusing on what was happening that day really helped when the uncertainty stretching ahead of us seemed unbearable.

Lesson 2) Support networks are invaluable

I have always known that family and friends are important to me, however it has never been so obvious and tangible as it was when going through the process of having a premature baby. Having people to talk to, cry to, moan to, and (occasionally) laugh with was so important, and really showed me how important connecting with others is to me – no matter what else is going on in my life.

It wasn’t just my existing personal relationships that developed; new friendships with other mums on the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) also became a source of reassurance and inspiration. I was also lucky enough to receive counselling from the hospital to support and guide me through some of the challenges I was going through.

Lesson 3) Focus on what you can control

Whether you’re anxious about Covid, your career, or having a poorly family member, it’s natural to worry and think about all the things you wish were different. There are so many things out of your control, and it’s easy to spend time and energy focusing on what you can’t control.

It’s much easier said than done, but for those months when our baby was in hospital, focusing on the things I could control really helped me. Ensuring I was eating decent meals (most of the time), was getting some kind of exercise (mainly walking), and doing other things that help me manage my wellbeing (writing in my diary, talking to others etc) – gave me a focus and helped me feel I was doing something useful.

As it slowly looked more hopeful that he would be leaving hospital soon I focused on getting things ready; cleaning out the flat and getting the huge amounts of baby paraphernalia ready.

Looking back now, the months he was in hospital feel a bit like a blur – at the time I didn’t feel I was coping particularly well, and didn’t consciously implement the above as strategies. Going through challenges can often feel that way – we muddle through, somehow, and don’t realise how far we’ve come until we’re out of it.

I hope these reflections are useful and provide some insights for anyone else experiencing their own challenges.

If you’d like to know more about premature babies, or about managing your wellbeing, take a look at the Bliss website or visit Mind.co.uk.

Here’s to a good 2022!

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