“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

I don’t have a choice. I feel helpless in so many aspects of my life right now. I muster on as though I am strong, but really I am stuck. I am stuck with the situations that have happened and a past I can’t change. There are so many things I want to change for myself and for my family, but I can’t because I don’t have a choice.

Since delivering our son at 30-weeks gestation via emergency C-section, I have felt adrift in the midst of my own existence. I think about the last few months often, but never very deeply for fear I will get lost in the stress and anguish. Each step of the way, I think about how I didn’t have a choice and how I still don’t have one.

RELATED: Everyone Warns You About Childbirth But No One Warns You About a NICU Stay

I didn’t have a choice when my body went into labor at 30-weeks even though it was too early. I didn’t have a choice when I was only able to glance at my son for a short moment when he was born before they took him to the NICU as I lay on the surgery table alone.

I didn’t have a choice when we had to follow the NICU’s orders for his care and get their permission to be able to bring our own child home.

Even now, with him home, I find that I am angered by this season of our lives because it is not what we had hoped for and I still do not have choices to alleviate my frustration.

When we were discharged from the NICU, we were given a list of follow-up appointments that were already made for uswe were supposed to reschedule our lives around these appointments. I know these appointments are necessary and meant for good, but they are like a tether that continually ties us to our past hospital stay, a reminder of our son’s prematurity and the struggles that continue to vex us.

RELATED: To the NICU Mom Who’s Back at Home

I had hoped that once we left the NICU and were home, we would be free to regain some of the happiness we were supposed to have with a newborn at home. But I realized that we still do not have a choice, and we will continue to be swept along, without a choice. The exhaustion and stress of our son’s delivery and hospital stay has worn away our ability to emotionally cope and rebound. Now, everyday experiences can send us over the edge and make us feel like there’s no hope and no end in sight.

So, we continue on, because we do not have a choice.

Every day, I push through the exhaustion and frustration, knowing I have no other choice. This is my reality right now. While it is not what I had hoped for, I am still thankful for my son and for his health and safety. I am thankful I can still take in his big, cheeky smiles and watch as he develops into a little person. I have to hold onto those little glimmers of hope and happiness because I don’t have a choice.

I have not chosen this journey for us, but I can choose to be strong for now. I hope that one day I will have other choices again, but for now, my choice is strong.  

Rachel Meeker

I am married with two sons and lots of fur babies. I love animals and wildlife. I'm a self-proclaimed mental health advocate who wants to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. I love the Lord and am so thankful for His work in my life. I would like to share my journey with you, so come join me in my trials and triumphs.