Along with the happy news of my pregnancy came a series of the most challenging months I’ve ever experienced, health wise. The first bleeding started at 6 weeks and I went for an early ultrasound, learning that I have a bicornuate uterus, which is also known as a divided or heart-shaped uterus. I also learned I was pregnant in both sides, and having a miscarriage on one side of my uterus while the other embryo struggled to hang in. After that was a series of subchrionic bleeds, heavy bleeding caused by a hemorrhage (hematoma) so large it took up a third of my uterus (almost as big as the fetus and placenta combined). I spent weeks 10 to 12 of my pregnancy in and out of the hospital, and weeks 13 to 16 on bed rest, the first 2 weeks of which I was complete bed-bound, only able to get up once a day to shower.

For those of you who know me personally or have a sense of my through my blog, I am an incredibly active person. Learning to surrender completely to my body, my pregnancy and the process I needed to follow to heal and help my baby survive was a huge challenge and something I obviously needed to learn. They say that your life changes forever when you have a baby, and I experienced this massive shift from way before the baby was born. Life as I knew it has definitely changed.

The following are five lessons that were reinforced to me during the first 4 months of my pregnancy. I’m sharing them because I believe that these lessons can be applied during any time of need, whether it be sickness, a time of emotional strife, or a time of transition. 

1. Ask for EXACTLY what you need. 

If you don’t ask and spell it out for people, you won’t get what you need. This also serves a double function, it helps get your needs met while also providing your loved ones with some guidance as to how to help. Sometimes they want to but don’t know how. Here’s an example:

My father was really uncomfortable coming to the hospital. I would call him in the morning and tell him what I needed… a green juice, some fruit, a book, speakers for my computer, what have you. This gave him a purpose and a way to feel helpful – other than sitting in the hospital and keeping me company. It helped me so much because I knew I could count on him for the things I needed to make my stay more comfortable.

Asking for what you need can also extend to what you need on an emotional level. For awhile, I needed my loved ones to not talk “worst case scenario” with me. It wasn’t helpful, though I understood that some of them were trying to understand the gravity of the situation and to plan accordingly, my head and heart were filled with enough fearful thoughts that I didn’t need more. So I asked for what I needed, which was to be surrounded by positivity and hope (more on this below), and to leave it to the doctors to plan for the worst.

2. Embrace the power of prayer, positive visualization and reframing. 

You’ve probably heard this from me before but I really learned to lean into this powerful trifecta of tools. And – coupled with #1 lesson of asking for exactly what I needed – I got super specific.

As per my example above, I asked people near me to reframe if I felt the conversation was slipping down the negativity slope. Each time a fearful or negative thought or image popped into my own brain, I would actively expel it and replace it with a positive image or thought. Sometimes it even required me saying it out loud, or meditating with that image in mind for several minutes.

I asked the doctor and my mid-wife exactly what needed to happen for everything to go RIGHT, for the hemorrhage to heal and for the baby’s optimal development. They painted the picture for me with imagery and words. I wrote these details into an email and sent to my closest friends and family, along with a prayer and visualization guide. I attached a picture of my belly and asked that they rub their hands together, close their eyes, reach out towards the mental image of my belly and then visualize the hemorrhage healing, the baby continuing to grow, etc.

This can work for any ailment, or any tough situation. Ask your friends and family to help you uphold the highest vision for the best possible outcome.

During one of my hospital stays, around week 11. I had participated in Liz Dialto’s #ishineyoushine experiment a few weeks earlier, and this was a reminder to myself and others that no matter what, my soul shines.

3. Break the silence. 

In order to do #1 and #2 – you’ll have to reach out and be honest about what is really going on. I understand that this can be hard – but if you keep everything bottled up inside and try to maintain your superwoman facade, you’ll never get the support that you need.

This was tricky for me. I was very early in my first trimester – a time when many women are still advised to keep quiet about their pregnancy. While I understand the importance of discretion when there are still so many variables in the early stages of pregnancy, and I certainly wasn’t going to go posting all over Facebook just yet, there did come a time when I needed to share with my closest friends and family what was going on. I also shared with several online groups of women I am a part of and received a tremendous amount of support from women I had never met, yet offered me strength and hope. I am ever grateful for this. (If you want to know more about these groups, ask me in the comments!)

This was hard though. I had to again challenge myself and learn to be vulnerable. What was happening in my body was also a direct conflict to the belief I had about myself – that I was strong, healthy and fit and “shouldn’t” be having these types of problems. I had to be at peace with myself and understand that these problems did not mean there was something wrong with me, and to get cozy with vulnerability in order to ask for support. The same goes if you are struggle with alcohol or other addictions, or other health issues. Don’t keep the people around you guessing – help them help you.

4. Get out of your head. 

If you are anything like me, this is easier said than done! It’s a great concept, but how does one do it, especially during long days of hospitalization, sleepless nights of worry, weeks spent in bed, immobilized with a body in forced repose and an overactive brain?

I learned that I needed a variety of tools for this, because what worked one minute might not the next. Here are a few of the “turn down the brain” tools I used regularly:

  • Aromatherapy: relaxing, stress relieving and sleep inducing blends worked wonders.

  • Accu-pressure: My practitioner came to my bed side and worked on stress points – and was so successful that I often fell asleep before she finished working on me.

  • Drawing: I don’t usually draw that much on a regular basis. I was gifted some nice paper and coloured pencils and I made myself to suspend judgement on whether or not what I was doodling was “good” and allowed my mind to drift as I played with colours, words and shapes… I made drawings for my body and for my baby. Maybe I will share them one day maybe I never will, it doesn’t really matter. It helped.

  • Humming and listening to music: Soothing piano worked wonders. I had several songs that I would play on repeat and would allow to carry me away. At night, I often hummed songs to myself. Something about the vibrations through my body was incredibly relaxing. I would place my hands on my belly and imaging the hums as healing energy moving through my body.

5. Patience, faith and surrender.

I surrendered to the love and support of my partner and loved ones, and worked on my self-limiting beliefs around vulnerability/perceived weakness/being dependent.

When it came down to it, I had to trust. I learned to surrender to the process and have patience. To trust my body and have faith that there was a higher plan at work. To be a peace with “not knowing” all the answers or why these challenges were presenting themselves to me, and to appreciate the lessons as they revealed themselves to me.

I hope that these lessons and tools will be as helpful to you as they were for me! As always, if you know someone who would benefit from these words, please pass this along to them.