16 years ago today, my life was brimming with hope and excitement. I was nearing the end of the second trimester of a twin pregnancy – and loving every moment of it.
And then, at a routine checkup that evening, I was rushed into emergency. It appeared that I was fully effaced and 4 cm dilated.
That night I went into active labor. The doctor who came in said that had it been 3 days prior, they would’ve aborted the pregnancy given the prospects ahead. But it was too late – we now faced a 0.4% probability of both babies being normal, IF they were to survive. I’m choking up even as I’m writing this.
The doctors tried to subside the labor and the delivery was allayed. I was also told that everyday I managed to keep the twins in, their chances for a normal life increased greatly.
How I was to do so, I hadn’t a clue. All I knew was that I was hospitalized and on bed rest for the next foreseeable length of time, and that I had a job to do.
Even though the doctors had little to offer, an inner wisdom guided me and I managed to do what at the time seemed impossible. I managed to keep in my babies who weighed less than a loaf of bread each, until they were ready to enter the world. And I discovered the immense power of the human brain to overcome its fears when a higher calling, a purpose or a love propels us forward.
A Compelling Vision
That higher calling became my vision. I would visualize me and my babies playing together in bed. I would dream of taking them for walks, picking them up from school, even attending their graduation! Yes, pregnancy can do that to you!! And I used these heartwarming mental slideshows every time the doom and gloom around me made me lose hope, or to find my way back from the delivery room where I ended up multiple times in this tumultuous journey.
But the vision was not enough to help me through. I needed to break it down into smaller goals that pulled me forward and did not overwhelm me. And so I started setting myself mini-goals to keep my babies in. It was late November – the first goal I set myself was for my mom’s birthday in the very beginning of December. I got there – and set the next one – December 7 – my own birthday. Another family birthday a week later and I was already in mid December, with my twins developing everyday in the safety of the womb.
A Daily Practice
I then became more courageous. Christmas was next on the list, followed by the New Year. And then the big one – my older daughter’s birthday in early February. And in that one month, I realized that it’s what you do everyday that determines the outcome of your goals. I used every moment in my hospital bed to learn skills and strategies that I had never used before – at least not consciously. I learnt to self-soothe when my fears got the better of me, and to build little moments of joy into the uncertainty of each moment. And over time, these daily habits gave me the confidence to stay grounded through the literal ups and downs of contractions, to slow them down, and even to control them on good days.
I made it to my daughter’s birthday. But with no more birthdays for months ahead, I also lost the desire to set any more milestones. It may partly have been the fact that I was tired – tired of fighting everyday. It may partly have been the knowledge that my babies had crossed the 34-week mark where a twin pregnancy is considered full-term. But I suddenly lost the passion that had been driving me. And yes, right one day after my older daughter’s birthday, the twins made their entry into the world!
I’ve often looked back over that period to reflect on how I intuitively did what I’ve consistently repeated in order to reach my goals. Align with a deeply desired vision, set compelling goals and then create powerful habits that move you towards them.
So whether you’re bringing about change at a personal level, or wondering what you can do to bring about change at a national or global level, think of the power that lies in each individual moment. We could be headed for bigger purpose, but it’s the reality of the everyday that makes up the fabric of our lives and determines the legacy we leave behind in this world.