Infectiously Happy

Equanimity.

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e·qua·nim·i·ty
ˌēkwəˈnimitē,ˌekwə-/
noun
1. mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, esp. in a difficult situation. Presence of mind.

Last week something amazing happened. I met my son for the first time. At 12:37pm on 12/13/13 he came bursting into the world. Instantly the only thing I could do was love this nine pound, five ounce bundle of happiness. It was more than I could have ever imagined and I have learned what it means to truly maintain my gratitude/happiness/peace despite less than stellar circumstances.

Besides the normal blues associated with post-partum, the juggling of new responsibilities and the fatigue of caring for a new baby, Frenchie and I were not prepared on Saturday when Palmer was whisked away to the NICU after concern for his breathing uncovered that he had respiratory distress associated with immature lung function. He had been born three weeks early to avoid complications for me and we were left with questions and fears about the future and health of our new son. When I was dismissed from the hospital on Monday, Palmer could not leave and we were given timelines as long as two weeks. I was devastated. I had eaten right, I had exercised moderately. Heck on Friday they handed me my baby and told me he was perfect. So why was this happening?

Enter your new vocabulary word. Only a week earlier my friend and yoga teacher, Stacy said to me her intention for the day was to practice equanimity. There are no coincidences in life and as I laid in my hospital bed in tears because I was scared I was jolted back to my center by this word.

Of course I learned so much in these few days and Palmer was released on Thursday, earlier than predicted, due in large part to the stellar care he received but also I think because Frenchie and I, along with our family and friends had the presence of mind to pray for his healing, focus on the good, and visualize his release from the NICU.

Here’s my suggestions for remaining equanimous in the face of daunting situations:

Release attachment. Attachment is the cause for suffering. No doubt about it. In my mind, once he was here and deemed healthy we would go home together in a few days and I would get busy learning and growing with him. Running back and forth to the hospital, having to express breast milk for someone else to feed to him and seeing him full of probes and IVs didn’t fit anywhere in my birth plan. I cried… Several times. And then I realized I was creating my own suffering by wallowing in scenarios of what I wanted instead of dealing with what was. The plan was evolving, the plot was thickening and I needed to flow with what was going to get my son back to his best health.

Focus on your power. Can I tell you that initially I felt powerless? I couldn’t feed my baby. He was four days old before I had the privilege of changing a dirty diaper because for nearly two days we weren’t even allowed to touch or pick him up. I remember feeling like I wasn’t even a “real mom”. But then I had to remember that if nothing else I am powerful in thought. So every morning and every night I focused my thoughts, on bringing him home on getting good reports from his daily checks. I decided that I would focus on eating well and remaining hydrated because he needed milk and I was the only one who could make it.

Let love lead. Fear will stamp out any hope so in the midst of your storm you must move to the polar opposite… Love. Love will stamp out fear every time. I was tired. Running back and forth to the hospital all week wasn’t the type of rest I needed after my c section but how else could I tell Palmer every day how much he was loved and supported? We copped a squat beside his little bed and in each moment I used that love to remain focused on his improvement, instead of dwelling in the fear associated with our child being sick. I surrounded myself with those who were going to hold me up and love me through this.

Be transparent. While I chose to primarily keep what was going on this week to myself and my family, I decided in the end that I needed to share. Often I encounter people who assume that I am happy because everything goes according to my plan. They assume I preach happiness because that’s all I know and that tough times grace past me. I am being transparent now because for me this time has reenforced what I always say: happiness should not be determined by your circumstances. Each moment of this week I have had to decide that I was going to focus on our happiness and the result is a healthy, happy baby snuggled next to me as I type. :-)

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19 thoughts on “Equanimity.

  1. Wow, just wow! Thanks for sharing your story. Very inspiring. Way to handle your struggles with such grace and love. That is yoga. Palmer chose well :) congratulations!

  2. This was your best post yet new mommy! I wish I could tell you all the worries and concerns and scary moments that make you realize how much “lack of control” we have in our lives as parents but it always works out just fine….. you are doing great and there’s no book, except for the one you write through living it.

  3. What an amazing happy ending!!! To have used lessons learned and omens recognized to help you make it through what seemed like a really tough situation for you and yours. More power to you woman! True inspiration :)

  4. Thanks for sharing your story! I was told while i was still pregnant that Brendan would have to be “observed” in the NICU after I delivered him because of his heart. I broke all the way down thinking about everything that I was already going through at the time. I had to pull myself together and remind myself that stressing while preggo isn’t good either. It’s amazing what we go through and accomplish as mommas.

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