I am an anxious person. Having been officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder several years ago, this is not new territory for me. However, the anxiety over becoming a first time mom (or dad perhaps) is unlike anything I could have expected.
My pregnancy journey was not a simple one, in fact, even our journey to getting pregnant was filled with doctors, tests and medications. Unfortunately, even after that second line turned up on that test, the complications didn’t disappear. At 7 weeks we thought I was having a miscarriage and rushed into hospital (90 minutes away). At 20 weeks we were told I had an abnormally shaped uterus and it could pose complications for delivery. Weeks 27-29 were full of bleeding episodes which again sent us racing to hospital. By 30 weeks I was put on modified bed rest and was called off work completely.
Despite these issues, my anxiety was manageable. I found ways to cope that worked for me using essential oils, emotional freedom technique and more. It wasn’t easy, but it was manageable. Fast forward to a meeting with a specialist at 34 weeks when we were told that baby girl would have to be born via belly birth (read: c-section). Again, not ideal, but manageable. The first moment we heard her cry in the operating room it was like all our worries melted away. That feeling lasted all of .2 seconds before we realized we were now responsible for this tiny life.
Is my baby getting enough to eat? Why is she grunting so much? Is this pain from breastfeeding normal? Does her belly hurt? Is she sleeping too much? Should I wake her up? Is she uncomfortable? Is her breathing normal? What is croup? Does she have a fever? Is she gaining enough weight? Why isn’t she sleeping? Why is she crying again? When can people meet her? Can we go outside? Is she in her car seat correctly? What are the causes of SIDs? Where is the safest place for her to sleep? Am I spoiling my baby? When should we sleep train? Why is she so congested? Can she breathe? When can we introduce a pacifier? Why am I crying? Is my she too cold? Is she too warm?
The questions keep on coming. The fear that we are somehow doing everything wrong continues to creep in. Each day brings a new challenge, each day is different. And for someone with anxiety, that’s hard – and also great in some ways. The constant shift and change is definitely keeping me on my toes and forcing me to cope with my anxieties versus sweeping them under the rug. Man is this journey a tough one.
How many new parents feel this way? Is it just because I am had anxiety before becoming a mum? Why aren’t we talked about it more? Rather than telling a new mom to “enjoy every moment because they go by too fast,” ask her how she is feeling and explain to her that you went through some of the same struggles. So many moms out there posing for that perfect picture with their kids, or staging their kids for that perfect picture but are truly struggling behind the scenes. Why do we feel the need to live this double life?
So I am here to say – from the conversations I have had with the mamas who are brave enough to say so – anxiety surrounding becoming a first time mom are normal. In fact, many women even say they don’t feel like they have confidence in their mothering until their second kid comes along! I am about a month into this journey, there are still a lot of firsts and new territories left to cross, but I am determined to start mothering and stop googling. This is my daughter, and her dad and I know her better than anyone else. I really hope that speaking about my insecurities and anxieties can give some strength to other mamas out there going through the same thing.
What were you most anxious about when you became a new parent?