Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dealing With Anxiety

Today I'm feeling the need to discuss something that affects pregnant women more than you might think, yet is something that is not commonly discussed: anxiety. And I'm not talking about the "normal" mommy-jitters...I'm talking about the kind of anxiety that makes you worry about every little thing, and stress out unnecessarily during a time when you're already emotional enough as it is.

I've always been an anxious, easily stressed out person. It's something I constantly work on, but also something I wasn't expecting to affect me so much during pregnancy. As someone who is predispositioned to experience anxiety, pregnancy, especially early on, has proved to be a challenging time in dealing with stressors and anxious feelings.

I experienced what I had assumed were normal fears when I first found out I was pregnant: am I really going to have to squeeze out a kid the size of a watermelon? How are we going to make room for a baby in our relatively small apartment? Can we afford this? I'm really having a baby??? Sure, these are normal fears for any first time (and probably second, third and so on) mom. But it was when these fears escalated into much more, and caused me much more stress, that I knew this was not quite "normal".

Pretty early on I was panicked about the potential to miscarry. Once I had gotten over the initial shock of being pregnant, I was excited to know that I had a little life growing inside of me...and petrified that with a rate of up to 20% of women my age having a miscarriage, I could lose that little life. My fears of miscarrying became so intense that at any little tweak or odd feeling in my abdomen, I was checking to make sure that I was showing no signs of having lost the baby. Even more so, my fears of miscarrying developed into a fear of going to the doctor...and them not being able to find the baby's heartbeat.

My irrational fears and anxieties only became worse from there. Feeling the baby move for the first time on Easter was a really exciting occasion for me...but when I didn't feel any movement for several days after, I worried...even though I knew in my head it was totally normal. And when I experienced round-ligament pain for the first time, and didn't realize what it was, I worried that maybe I had moved wrong somehow and had seriously injured my baby...who I knew was well protected in my belly.

After irrationally fearing that I had broken my baby's neck by bending the wrong way, I knew I needed to take up my concerns with my doctor. I didn't want to be stressing out and spending the rest of my pregnancy being an overly-anxious worry wort. I found that discussing my fears with my doctor was a great idea. She reassured me that the baby was fine, even letting me listen to the heartbeat for several minutes just for my piece of mind. She answered my questions about my crazy fears with great comfort, reminding me that my baby is fine, healthy and safe. And she gave tools, not medicine, to help me be able to reassure myself when fear and anxiety takes over. My doctor has made it comfortable for me to call the office with any questions or concerns I have, no matter how big or small they may be, and has provided me with the knowledge and resources to become more comfortable and less anxious with being pregnant.

Now at 25 weeks, I'm feeling good. As the baby has grown, I've become more comfortable and less anxious worrying about if everything is ok in there. Now that I can feel my little peanut move and thrive, and even react, I am more secure in knowing that everything is ok. And talking to my doctor proved to be a helpful tool in maintaining my fears and getting me to the point where the most stressful thing about being pregnant was eating right and picking out a theme for the nursery (or baby-cave, as my husband affectionately calls it).

As a stubborn person, I've always disliked asking for help. I'd rather do things myself...but in this case I learned, sometimes you just need to open your mouth. Help isn't always a bad thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment