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I want to enjoy pregnancy but anxiety gets in the way

I want to enjoy pregnancy but anxiety gets in the way

by

Jamie Reed

posted in Pregnancy

I’ve always been a worrier. It’s been one of the constants of my life and I’ve tried to drop my worries over and over again. But what I had always assumed were just normal worries that everyone experienced took a turn — in my 20s I was handed an anxiety disorder diagnosis by a therapist.

Maybe my worries weren’t “normal” after all. My anxiety manifested itself in some difficult, dangerous ways, but with a lot of treatment I made progress over the years. And then I got pregnant.

My husband and I talked and worried about trying to get pregnant so much that no baby could possibly have been more planned. We had years of wondering if children were in our future. I spent countless nights awake in bed reading articles and opinions on my phone, trying to determine if I would be a good mother, if I could handle the physical and emotional changes that come with growing a baby as well as parenting and all that comes with it.

 

pregnant woman - anxiety

When the pregnancy test was positive I felt almost electric with nerves, both good and bad. The decision was made, there was no turning back, and I was merely along for the ride. While I don’t consider myself a control-freak, pregnancy is the ultimate lack of control. Body changes, mood swings, trying to prepare for a future you have no idea how to plan, it’s a lot. Having spent years trying to control my control issues, pregnancy has felt almost crippling at times.

I love that the pregnant body works to create the right environment for growing a baby. It’s amazing to me that, with or without my help, my body knows what to do. At the same time, it’s startling when you’re faced with the reality of a body that seems to grow overnight, aches and pains you can’t shake off, and emotions that veer from terror to cautious excitement and back. I know every pregnant woman experiences these types of feelings, but my standard high anxiety combined with the pregnancy hormones just makes it feel like too much.

I expected to feel nothing but excited. And that’s the feeling I got from other people — excitement. Period. I really want to feel that way — but it’s often covered up by another emotions.

When you’re terrified of things going wrong, it’s hard to relax and enjoy the experience. Something as simple as a routine doctor’s appointment can keep me awake all night, scared of what I might hear. I want so badly to look forward to ultrasounds so I can get a glimpse of my growing baby; instead I can barely breathe until they’re over, fearing some piece of bad news. I never want to be someone who constantly expects the worst but it’s hard not to constantly be thinking what if? 

So where does that leave me as I enter the third trimester? I’m hanging in there, and things feel a little easier every day. My anxious thoughts still crowd my brain but I work on focusing in on the joy I don’t want to miss.

Woman-getting-blood-pressure-checked

 

I want the excitement of registering for my first baby. Picking out soft blankets and ridiculously large stuffed animals that will inevitably be stuffed in a toy box one day. I want to shop for a beautiful dress to wear in maternity photos. I want to laugh until I cry with my husband over hilarious baby names. I don’t want anxiety to rob me of any more of my life than it already has.

This pregnancy has already changed me in ways I’m only just beginning to comprehend. I’m finding I’m braver than I thought I could be — that me and my body are capable of more than I ever imagined. And while I know my anxiety will continue to be a struggle, it’s a battle worth fighting.

Do you struggle with anxiety during pregnancy? What things have you done that have helped?

images via iStock

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