There are times in life when you are just broken. Times where everything is spiralling and you just have no control over anything. This is exactly where I was in the lead up to losing Poppy. In the weeks where we were going through Poppy’s diagnosis our lives were full of tests, scans, appointments and pure fear. I was beyond scared, I was beyond being able to cope. This is when I needed a coping strategy for scans, procedures, waiting in the horrendous side rooms, meetings. And to just survive. For me this is where the power of 100 started.
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I counted everything. The patterns on pictures in side rooms, the tiles on the floor, the windows outside, just about anything I could see. I can still see the side rooms and the objects within them as I spent so long counting everything. I used counting as a way to distract myself to try and calm the whirling emotions. But to also try and blank out the fear of what we were going to be told.
the power of 100
The power of 100 came in when I was having procedures done and I needed to be apart from myself. I needed to detach myself and to do this I needed a distraction. So I counted. I counted to 100 over and over again.
My most vivid memory of counting to 100 was during an MRI I had to clarify what the consultants had established from my scans. I knew this procedure wasn’t invasive but I was absolutely petrified. It was the one procedure that Rob could not be with me. My rock and my strength was unable to be there to hold my hand. I also knew how hard it was for Rob to have to wait outside by himself.
Once in the scanning machine I had to lay on my side with a support underneath my bump so Poppy would not be able to move so much. I had ear plugs in to help drown out the noise of the machine. It all felt very claustrophobic and that was without the fear that was already circulating inside of me.
The MRI took longer than was expected as Poppy was so active. How could my baby be so active when she was so poorly? I couldn’t escape my own mind, the constant rambling of thoughts and emotions. The noise of the machine screeching through me alongside the fear. I just wanted to escape. The numbers kept flooding through me and eventually they calmed my anxiety and my breathing a little . Just enough to be able to get through the MRI.
I have since learnt that counting is a distraction technique for anxiety, panic, trauma and pain. It was and still is a technique that just naturally occurred to me to enable me to detach myself from the moment. I also sometimes count from 1 to 10 really quickly over and over again. Or quickly tap my fingers together whilst repeatedly counting from 1 to 5 as I do it. These two techniques I use most often when my anxiety is generally bad or trying to calm a panic attack.
In the time since Poppy has been gone I have spent a lot of time sewing by hand. I find this helps calm my mind and distracts me from my anxiety building to a point of having a panic attack. I have tried to turn this skill into something productive by setting up my project Hearts from Poppy. By challening this distraction technique into something productive it means I am able to help other families which brings me comfort. But also helps me to spread Poppy’s Legacy of Love.
What distraction techniques have you used? Which have you found to be the most effective? Please share in the comments section below. Thank you. Sara x
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IF YOU NEED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT:
Arc – Antenatal results and choices.
Petals – The Baby Loss Counselling Charity.
Tommy’s – Baby Charity – Together, for every baby.
Sands – Stillbirth and neonatal death charity.
Baby Loss Support Links – A dedicated page I have put together of a range of support links.
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