Anxiety: Then & Now
I’m an amazing worrier. Not a great skill to have, in fact I’m not sure it should be labelled a skill at all. But, regardless of what you call it, I’m good at it and often take worry to the next level and work myself up into a ball of anxiety.
I was having a middle of the night conversation with a fellow blogger about anxiety the other night. Like me, she is new mom after years of hard fought struggle. Our conversation about anxiety got me thinking, have I really changed since becoming a mother to a living child?
Before, while living through recurrent pregnancy loss my anxiety was absolutely not healthy. In part anxiety eventually lead me to leave my full-time professional career. I was consumed:
- Will this baby live?
- How will we get through this miscarriage? Will I have another D&C, or will misoprostol actually work this time?
- Will we ever have a child(ren)?
- How will Mr. MPB react to another loss? Can our marriage survive?
- My body is truly failing our children. This is my fault and I cannot stop it.
- If I eat this or that will it cause another miscarriage?
- Can I exercise, if so how much? Is it even worth risking it?
Then with adoption, I continued to worry. I worried about:
- When will we have a match. I hate waiting.
- Will the match fall through?
- How much money is this going to cost us in the end? (heck, I still worry about this one)
- Will our child be healthy?
- Will we have a good relationship with our potential birth mom?
- Will our child be scared from his adoption experience?
- What if we have a revocation that occurs after we are already caring for baby? How can we survive that?
And now that I’m parenting, the anxiety is still there.
- Is Baby MPB eating enough? Is he growing enough?
- Is Baby MPB happy enough?
- Should baby MPB be doing this or that at this age? What’s his next milestone, what if he is late for it?
- How is our birth mom? Is she okay?
- What if we go to bed and Baby MPB is gone in the morning? As in, this is all just a dream and it’s going to come crashing down around me at any moment. (Until now I hadn’t thought about the idea of kidnapping, but now that’s going to be stuck in my mind too).
- What if I trip and fall and Baby MPB gets hurt?
- What if he stops breathing?
- What if I die and he has to grow up without a mom?
- What if we are driving and someone hits us and his car seat turns out to be defective and he dies?
- What if I fall asleep with Baby MPB and roll over and kill him?
So, clearly, I’m just a crazy lady. Right?
I’ve been thinking about this but I’ve decided I actually don’t think I’m crazy. I think this is all pretty normal. First, I think all parents have fears. Second, I think parents who have endured hell (i.e. some sort of infertility struggle) to have a child face a unique set of fears. Third, there is a common thread in all my fears – the pain of loss and the fear of more loss.
I know all too well the pain of losing a child too soon. And now that I am actually holding this one I just cannot even fathom the idea of loosing him. Just by reading my above lists I can see that my fears during recurrent pregnancy loss have stayed intertwined in my thought processes since then as I am still afraid of losing our child. After experiencing five losses, loss is all I know. I’m not used to having a happy ending.
Today as a new mom, it’s requires real and deliberate effort on my behalf not to focus on these fears and not to play the dangerous what if game. I basically refuse to read books and/or google milestones so that I cannot obsess about them (except when rolled over at 7.5 weeks, I did google that one). We bought a Snuza Hero to help us sleep at night (which worked great until my sleep deprived mind accidentally put it through the washing machine last night, turns out they aren’t waterproof and their customer service is seriously lacking). We monitor every single ounce of food he eats (thanks to the Feed Baby Pro app we know exactly how much he is eating). We do not co-sleep (I just cannot get over this fear so it’s best for me to avoid it entirely). I still work to train my mind not to focus on the really scary bad stuff that could possibly happen maybe one day. And, I still see my counselor about once a month.
I’m not going to lie, at times it’s hard work.
But, I will acknowledge that what comes easy now is that I am continually reminded of the goodness of our current situation. We are so incredibly fortunate to be parents to an amazing little boy so I absolutely refuse to take a moment for granted. And so, I am thankful that we survived all the earlier heartache with our marriage and mental health intact. And, I’m thankful we found our path to our son via open adoption.
Again, I wont lie, it’s not perfect.
For me, the reminders of all that we have endured to get here help me focus on living today and staying focused on the present. Whenever the fears rear their ugly head I just remind myself that today, we have Baby MPB and so today is a good day. (And then I text/email a few amazing women who get it and unload my crazy on them! Thank god for amazing friends!)
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