"Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact." - William James
Fear dominates. It stops you in your tracks. It will rob your joy if you let it.
The NICU experience begins with fear. From the moment you are informed that something is not proceeding as planned fear creeps in. The doctor may tell you that you will deliver prematurely or that something is wrong with your baby. In a split second your pregnancy shifts from a place of hopes and dreams to a place of stress, worry, and overwhelm. It is completely natural and probably even healthy to surrender to the fear. Embrace it. Embracing these feelings without judgment is part of the process. But it is a process, meaning that you spend some time in this place, build up your strength, and prepare to move on to the next phase, living.
As you move from embracing to acceptance fear tags along. It becomes a buddy, a pal, and for some, a comforting companion that keeps you stuck. The key is to manage the fear. You don't have to fight it or make it go away. That is wasted energy. Instead, recognize that this friend's purpose is to protect you. You can then decide whether or not you need this protection. You get to decide if it is really a help or a hindrance and a crutch to keep you from taking the next steps in your life. Do you need more time to process or are you ready to partner with fear and take action?
With acceptance you are ready for action.
You are ready to claim your role as mom or dad and decide what that looks like for you. Fear is there, but you can give it another role. Make it work in your favor, cheer you on and champion you. Or make it your competitor and bet on yourself to win. Your discomfort does not completely go away; it simply lessens so that you can be the parent you are meant to be. Each step of the way, you call on your inner strength to accomplish what you once thought was impossible. This is the courage that is available to you each time you sense fear.
Steps to Managing Fear:
1. Recognize it for what it is: a protective mechanism.
2. Be gentle with yourself. Avoid judging yourself when in fear. Avoid making decisions when in fear.
3. Connect to your strengths. Recall previous fears that you overcame. Call on those strengths and skills now. Your inner voice knows the truth and will guide you.
4. Acknowledge when you need help and support. Reach out and get it.
5. Celebrate each step you make in spite of fear.