Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Managing Stress Before Your Baby Arrives

If you know me, you know that we're expecting another baby in a few weeks. This, of course, is great news (it was planned) and I'm really looking forward to new experiences and the unique dynamic that will form between my little girl Ewa and her new baby sister/brother.

Now about that heart attack...it all started after a very stressful weekend of tax preparation (gone wrong) and job application deadline hell. When your wife's pregnant and you're stressed, she's likely double stressed. This is something that I learned the hard way and would like to share with you so that you can consider the implications before you begin to mismanage your stress levels at such an inopportune time.

I went to work following my busy weekend and was working away pleasantly. Then I heard the phone ring. I answered and was happy to hear Basia, my wife, on the line. But the news wasn't good. "So....I have to go to the hospital," she said. My heart sank and a million thoughts went through my mind. I asked her why and she explained, "I'm having contractions."

OH My GOD!

~ Heart Attack Initiated ~

I thought, "HO-LY crap! It's WAY too early for the baby to be born."

I began to worry.

Soon after that first phone call, I received another. This time it was my mom, "You better get to the hospital, the contractions are 3 minutes apart."

"OH MY GOD!" I thought. I'm still downtown and there's no way I'm getting up there on time to see this through. I jumped on the subway as fast as humanly possible.

As I sat there on the subway, I was filled with a range of emotion, mostly excitement and happiness. The thought of just telling everyone - anyone - on that subway that I was about to be a father again did cross my mind.

You begin to see (above) that I went from worried to happy in about 15 minutes. These are the emotions that you too will go through when you get the news that your baby's on the way. It's scary, exciting, and new...even if it's the second child.

On the train home, I looked up the implications of premature birth. I realized that the circumstances were really not in my favour. This baby needed to hang on a little while longer.

If you've had kids of your own or you've looked into it, you'll know that premature birth isn't totally uncommon. But it can be very difficult on the child. Lung development, brain development, and a range of other very important physical growths happen in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

At the end of the day, our baby could be in big trouble if it's not developed enough. Not to mention the fact that we'd be stuck in the hospital until it comes to full-term - now about a month away.

On the way home I had my phone on full-blaring-speaker mode so that I wouldn't miss even the slightest ring with an update. I didn't care if my phone woke up every single sleeping person on that train; I was about to be a father again!

Mass texting out to the family ensued. I had coordinated a full alert labour movement, for lack of a better term. Everyone was ready to come by and support us in this, but by the time I got home, the crisis had subsided. The contractions were starting to fade, as they should. And I began to recover from my heart attack. Thank the world for small favours.

A week later, I'm sitting here thinking, in retrospect, that the onset of labour may or may not have been attributed to that stressful weekend. But at the end of the day, I would have been blaming myself if things had have gone wrong; if my new baby was born too early.

Now, I've got a story to tell and some advice to give: keep your cool, no matter what. Be smart, lenient and generally offer God-like forgiveness to the mother of your child. Keep calm. Stay cool. And eliminate as much stress as possible from your life as you and your wife get closer to the day where you expect to have your brand new bundle of joy. It's more stressful to have a premature baby prone to sickness and ailments than it is to deal with the yearly tax season.

All the best on your discovering moments...I hope you've enjoyed reading about mine.

~ Ken ~

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