It’s hard to know what’s normal

Bleeps, I’m having a struggle.

It hasn’t been kept a secret here that I have some anxiety issues, and I feel like they’ve gotten worse during pregnancy. The issues with my family have certainly taken their toll, but I can’t blame it all on that. Some of it is just that this whole “becoming a mother” thing has me pretty freaked out some days.

On Saturday I felt pretty bad. Just straight out the gate-didn’t want to get out of bed, body was hurting, feeling lonely and morose (Chief was at drill) sort of day. Then around 12:00 I started cramping. Not like when I had the bad endometriosis before my surgery, but also not super light cramps. I kind of started to freak out thinking I might be going into labor. And as much as I want this baby to come out, the thought that it might ACTUALLY be happening sent me into a blind panic. I texted Chief that I was hurting but I didn’t know if it was worthy of him coming home or not yet, so to stay put but stay by his phone (he was in a ceremony in his dress blues to top it all off-bad timing), and then I cried a little because I was just flooded with so many emotions:

1. Anxiety. I do not feel ready to be a mom. Period. I do not feel like I’m going to be good at it. I am afraid I won’t be able to breastfeed. I’m afraid my daughter won’t like me. I’m afraid I won’t be able to soothe her. I’m afraid my delivery will be horrible and my physical recovery will marr the first few weeks with my daughter. I’m afraid of PPD-BIG TIME. I’m afraid I’ll miss my old life (so selfish-I know. PLEASE don’t hate me).

2. Sadness. This could very well be the only time I’m ever pregnant, and I’ve been pretty uncomfortable these past few weeks and spent a lot of the last nine months filled with anxiety and worry. I feel like I’m missing out on what should be a really special time here at the end.

3. Stress. My house is only moderately clean, and we have newborn photos scheduled for roughly a week after she’s born, whenever that ends up being. How will it get clean if I can barely move around now and barely move around after? My husband does the absolute best he can, but our definitions of clean are very, very different.

4. Fear. This is probably the most normal feeling I had, because who isn’t a little afraid of delivery?

Later that night after Chief had run an errand he came home and I was laying in bed, where I am a lot these days.When I went to sit up I felt like I pulled a muscle in my stomach and I cried out in unexpected pain. He rushed over, and I was okay pretty quickly-it passed, but I started to just sob. He thought I was still hurting, but I’m just….not feeling like me anymore. And I don’t feel like that’s okay. I don’t feel like I’m supposed to feel this way.

Chief says that he bets every new mom feels this way, but I’m genuinely afraid something is wrong with me. I feel like if I’m this anxious and at times depressed before she gets here then after she gets here is going to be a shit storm. I still want her-I’m not regretting this decision or this baby or any of that, but I feel inadequate. I don’t feel strong enough. I feel tired, ALL the time and worry that I won’t even have the strength to deliver this baby. I fear I won’t have the fortitude for the round the clock nursing, or the colic, or the reflux, or any of the other things she might have.

And Chief can say that this is normal, but no one talks about prenatal depression or anxiety. I think I should mention it to my doctor, but I feel like all he’ll say is “you’re 38 weeks pregnant, of course you’re anxious.” And maybe that’s all it is, but I don’t feel like it’s supposed to be this way. Is it? Is this just a result of being overtired and facing a huge life change? I welcome your honesty, because I don’t really know what to think. Sometimes I’m fine. Right now I’m actually fine, which has made writing this hard. Right now I feel like if I went into labor I’d be ready and excited-it’s the dark moments that scare me.


18 thoughts on “It’s hard to know what’s normal

  1. It’s been no secret that I’ve felt the exact same way over these last few weeks, as well! Literally everything you’re anxious about, I am too… And as much as I hate to validate my husbands happy-happy explanations, I really do think a first time mama feels will always have these anxieties. How could we not? We’ve never done this before. I freak out about contractions and labor because I just don’t know what it feels like and then what if I wait too long to go to the hospital and then I’m pushing on the side of the highway? – type of panic. Among so many other fears.

    I think you’re ready, and I think you’ll be great. There is no way Charlie won’t love you and Chief! She already does 🙂

    I also think the last few weeks are hard to enjoy… When you can’t roll out of bed normally but need to get up 18 times a night to pee, you lose 50% of your sleep, and you just can’t eat like you want to, and walking is now a certified waddle – you’re allowed to be miserable. And changing your entire body and lifestyle is so scary! Of course you’re afraid to lose your old life.

    But I guess, when things are sucking, siting in bed with some ice cream, hand on your tummy feeling your little miss move around, try picturing how cute she is going to be, how fun it’ll be to plan her birthday parties, and how much love Chief is going to show the both of you… Maybe it’ll make things better, for even just a moment.

    All of that had such a peace-love hippy feel to it…. Sorry lol

    (Also, I am in no way trying to invalidate how you feel!! Like I said, I feel the same on a daily basis. I guess it’s easier to tell someone else that everything will be fine lol)

    Email me if you ever wanna chat 🙂

  2. I think a lot of what you’re feeling is normal, but that’s coming from someone who also struggles with significant anxiety. I also think it’s really important to be proactive about mental health, and that you shouldn’t shy away from expressing your feelings to your doctor. Maybe this won’t help, but some of the things you’re afraid of probably will happen sometimes. You’ll miss your old life. You’ll struggle to soothe your daughter sometimes, and maybe it will feel like she doesn’t like you. Being a new parent is exhausting and the reward can be somewhat delayed. But a) you’ll get through it, because you’re strong and you’ll love your daughter so immensely, and b) the reward, however delayed, is fantastic. There are so many ups and downs in parenting, and I think it’s completely human to worry. Cheered you right up, there, didn’t I? But seriously, don’t forget to look forward to all the good things to come. Like baby fingers and toes, deep blue eyes, curiosity, the first smile, laughs, when your daughter starts wrapping her arm around you when you carry her over your shoulder, etc. So much to enjoy 🙂

  3. Did you happen to read the NY Times Magazine’s sorry on pre partum depression? You might want to check it out. It was interesting and an important read. This is a mobile link, so if it doesn’t work, it’s from May 28th. I think your anxieties are normal, I wonder if the fact that they consume you, or can consume, you isn’t. I worry about much of the same things, but can usually let it go by thinking to myself-we’ll manage or it’ll all work out. It doesn’t make me sob (but I’m not a big crier) or worry incessantly. I think the biggest indicator that it could be a problem is that you think it’s a problem. If your doctor blows you off, maybe try an employer sponsored talk therapist. I forget what it’s called, maybe an employee assistance plan, but generally they have counselors you can talk to that can help you cope. You’re normal, Charlie will love you, you’re going to do great, but in order for those words to resonate you have to believe them. Hang in there.

  4. Prenatal depression and amxiety is definitely a thing so if you are worried about this please definitely tell your dr. Tell him also about the ongoing stuff with your family which has seen your anxiwty builds. It compounds. Despite all that you are totally feeling normal feelings. And evem if you DO end up with PND (worst case scenario) you WILL get through it and you will love your child and BE a great mum. No one knows how to be the best mum ever. We are all just figuring it out as we go and it can be different with every child you have too. No matter what the circumstamces back yourself that you will work it out. From the small picture I have of you from your writing I am sure you can do this. It is totally ok to feel shit amd afraid though. Totally. Xx

  5. While I’ve never been close to delivering a baby and have not been where you are at this time…I can honestly say that I will probably be feeling the exact same way whenever I do get there. I’m normally an anxious person, and have struggled with depression for years. I feel like if you’re worried about it, mention it to your Dr. But make it a point to tell him how deeply you feel these things, that they aren’t just passing thoughts, and how much they get you down. Hope you’re feeling a little better soon, and that you get through the next couple weeks fairly easily!

  6. Believe me, you aren’t the only one who has felt this way! Pretty much everything you mentioned in #1 I have felt. Even as my daughter is almost 6 months old now I still struggle from time to time with things. However, being able to hold her and love her outweighs all of the things that bother me. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it. I would definitely mention your feelings to your doctor though.

  7. I echo what others said. Mention to your doctor about these feelings and at the very least they will keep a close eye on you in the coming weeks. Sure they are normal but then again so is PPD, in that lots of people experience it. I’m 38 weeks with my third so not so freaked about what it will be like etc, but I still remember so well that first couple months with my first. It isn’t easy but even though it feels like a long time, it passes fast.
    And I myself am talking to my midwives and doctors because even though I’m all been there done that, my mother died a few weeks ago and these sorts of life changes are just very intense with all the hormones. You are going through a major life change! You’ll make it but it is OK to feel freaked out. Late pregnancy ain’t no place for sissies.

  8. You are definitely not alone. With my first daughter, after 6 years of fertility treatments, 3 Ivfs that finally resulted in a singleton pregnancy, I was thrilled. When labor started, I was excited. When labor stalled, I worried. When they said c-section, I had a full out panic attack. As I hypervenilated, I decided I changed my mind. I didn’t want to do this anymore. But I saw her face and it all went away. Every fear melted away. Even her cries were musical. When Charlie gets here, you’ll forget the aches of pregnancy.

  9. Totally normal feelings for a first time mom. I worried about if I was going to be a good mom, if I would be able to breastfeed after the c-section, I was worried that with my older age I would be annoyed with losing out on me time, etc. But all of those feelings were not valid.

    As far as your newborn shoot, your house will never be as clean as before you had kids unless you have the money for a cleaning lady. Just figure out which room you guys will be in and clean that one. Family and friends can also help clean!

  10. As they say…. NORMAL. Further, after the birth, you will still be hormonal and emotional… for 45 years at least so relax about that! Some will be good emotions, some tough emotions. And Charlie will cry and you won’t know what to do and you both will get through it anyway. You will do things you can’t imagine today and you will store and keep the memories you wish to keep forever. Pregnancy is not 100% unicorn joy for anyone, and your posts through out this pregnancy are filled with joy and excitement. You will be the best mother you can be and that will be good. Becoming parents simply is overwhelming.
    Yes, some people really need help post birth with emotions, but most while emotional, are not in deep trouble. Be honest with Chief and your doctor and remember it is OK to ask for help with any part of parenting. You will come through and laugh at yourself and life will keep changing and by sharing and posting you will be supported.
    We women have been doing this baby thing from the beginning of humanity … and people are still here. You are resilient and normal, we believe in you.

  11. I think it is so normal to be feeling this way when facing labour and child rearing for the first time, in addition to having anxiety issues generally.
    I think the most important thing is to make sure both you and Chief are fully aware of the risk factors and symptoms of PPD and to seek help the second you might think you have it.
    Otherwise as some of the others have said there will be times where you will do and experience exactly as you have written. Parenting is going to be very hard, that is why it’s so scary and maybe it’s a good thing that you are going into this with fears, they are realistic after-all. I have read so many blogs of women who go into it thinking it’s going to just be a breeze and they have a very rude awakening.
    Know this though, it will be worth it. I too am terrified and we’re not close yet. But I do know that there will be hard times and there will be such incredible times. Also when it does get hard know that it will pass and you will get through it because you love Charlie and because you will be a fab mother.
    It will be ok. You can totally do this.

  12. So, I know as previous infertiles, we are supposed to be so joyful when we do achieve pregnancy and viability that it almost feels (for me anyway) like a slap in the face to the infertile sisterhood to not be thrilled with actually being pregnant. But, pregnancy effing sucks! It’s hard, it’s stressful, it’s physically awful, it’s thing long rollercoaster ride that you desperately wanna get off of before you puke again but you’re terrified if you will be able to stand on your own after such a ride. Analogy aside, pregnancy is emotionally exhausting, especially for a first-time mom. I remember almost begging my doctor to induce me to get me off that crazy train while internally panicking because I didn’t want to do labor and delivery…and what the hell was I going to do with a newborn?!

    I think everything you are feeling is perfectly normal. I also think you should let yourself feel the feels and not be afraid it is a sign of something wrong. I think avoiding these scary thoughts and feelings will give them way more power than they already contain. Tell your doc if you and Chief think you should. I also strongly believe in keeping Chief in the loop and asking him to keep an eye on things. Is the intensity of these feelings on par for the intensity of other feelings throughout your pregnancy? Ask him. It is damn near impossible to judge those things when you are pregnant and in the middle of them. Sending you lots of good vibes! (Apparently we’re all on the hippie train now)

  13. While I think these are all totally normal feelings that just about every woman experiences in the long stretch of those last weeks of pregnancy, they are obviously going to be heightened if you have a history of anxiety/depression. And since you have that history, I think it’s normal that you have an increased fear of PPD (I know I do!). But also remember that because of your history, you already have the benefit of knowing how and where to reach out for help should the anxiety/depression continue or even worsen. And you know you have the ability to get through it. At least you aren’t flying blind — IF it happens, you’ll be quick to identify it and you’ll know what to do. That puts you at a significant advantage over a lot of other women who are experiencing anxiety/depression for the first time during pregnancy or post-partum.

    As far as the house needing tidying, now is as good a time as any to set some visiting policy! When my brother and SIL had their baby, they were totally clueless (teenagers) and I practically lived there and we had one rule — NO VISITORS unless you plan to bring food or do something while you’re here! Doesn’t matter if it’s loading the dishwasher, taking out trash, folding a load of laundry, dusting, literally anything at all, but you should do something! This woman just gave birth so make yourself useful! 🙂

  14. You’re totally normal! Surround yourself or at least have on speed dial a few other moms who you feel comfortable with to help you through this. You need a little village. I was very lonely after my daughter was born, and only later found out that people stopped calling because they were afraid to interrupt or wake the baby etc. I had been used to do much attention in anticipation of the baby arriving. What I learned was how important it is to keep all lines of communication open. Talk about the good and the bad. You’ll find we have all struggled. Motherhood isn’t easy, but you’ll figure it all out. You’re probably a bit of a type A, and being out of control drives you mad. You’ll adapt. You’ll find your strengths, and chief will be there all the way. He sounds like a pretty smart and amazing partner to be on this adventure with! We will all be here too, all along the way, no matter when you need us. Your own little village at your fingertips! And your breastfeeding fears are normal. I was naive in thinking I would have no problem because I was so determined. The truth is, a number of obstacles can arise that will make the challenge that much more difficult. I would recommend finding a good lactation consultant in your area, and perhaps even meet them prior to baby arriving. My daughter needed her jaw muscles worked on because she wasn’t able to open her jaw all the way and therefore wasn’t able to properly latch. This caused me a lot of physical pain and both me and the baby a lot of emotional pain. One trip to the osteopath, and one visit with the lactation consultant, and the sun finally came out from behind the clouds. Health practitioners aren’t always pro breastfeeding so you may have them jumping to give formula if your baby isn’t gaining fast. Don’t give in, if that’s not what you want. A specialist in lactation can do wonders. Xx

  15. I think you’re going to be just fine in the momming department.

    But, I also know a thing or two about anxiety. Tell your doctor now. Tell all of your doctors or nurse pracitioners, not just OB related ones. Let them all now that this is a concern and that you would like them to touch base with you at your post-natal appointments. Maybe even ask for some referrals to look into while you are in this lull and waiting for things to happen. Taking care of yourself makes you an even better mother.

    Also, anyone who passes judgement on the houses of people with tiny babies should take the express bus to hell. If anyone tells you they kept their house clean when Baby was 4 days old, tell them there is a key under your doormat and they can come over and knock themselves out. And bring a casserole while they are at it.

  16. Reblogged this on Eventual Momma and commented:
    I would definitely share your concerns with your doctor. Whether you are experiencing normal anxiety or not, they should be able to calm your fears and will be on the lookout for ppd. You recognize that what your feeling may not be normal and are taking steps to make sure everything is ok.

  17. I’ve been panicked and anxious too. I definitely think that speaking with the doctor is a wise decision. Whether what you are feeling is normal or not, you are concerned enough about it to have brought it up to chief then it is worth mentioning to the doc too.

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