I won't lie, from before conception I was worried about how I would cope with pregnancy and having a child. Having generalised anxiety means I worry about everything and over think every aspect of life. So when my life grows to include a plus one, living in my womb - that shit can get even trickier, right!?
Right. Especially when I had to stop taking 2 of the 3 medications that had previously helped me manage my anxiety, due to pregnancy risks. "Can I cope without them?" ran through my head constantly. The short answer is yes.
Anxiety Trigger 1: The first trimester was the most difficult for me. I didn't cope with being physically unwell. The nausea and exhaustion had me couch bound so often, and the fact I couldn't do what I'd planned to, or what I wanted to - affected me mentally, big time. I found that I wasn't finding joy in much at all, which worried me a lot.
How I coped: I think it did come a bit easier as I went along, realising that I needed rest more in pregnancy than I did pre pregnancy. But it was still hard. I felt guilt constantly. But I just continued to do rest. Couch days, naps, only getting 3 of the 5 things on my list done. And I was very lucky to have support from Matt. He's not particularly empathetic by nature, so I thought he'd think I was lazy. But he was understanding and caring - which was a huge help.
Anxiety Trigger 2: I felt really overwhelmed about what the baby would need. Each item had 100 different options and I had no idea how to tell what was the right one. Everyone kept talking about products like it was common sense, and I had no idea I even needed a *insert baby product here*. It seemed hard. It seemed expensive. It seemed like too much for me to handle.
How I coped: I wrote lists. A list of what I needed for the baby. An "if I can" list of pretty things. A list for when the baby is a few months old. A list of what I'll need in the hospital and what I'll need for the early days at home with a newborn. I literally instantly felt more in control. I slowly started ticking off items on my list, and they got a big green tick (fulfilling AF!). I asked specific questions on Instagram, my due date groups, friends and Matt and slowly decided on what would work for us and our baby.
Anxiety Trigger 3: Before kicks came along, I constantly feared that I'd miscarried and the baby had just disappeared. It seems strange - but my entire life I've had dreams that I was pregnant or I was giving birth, and then I simply wasn't. That played on my mind a lot. Did the dreams mean anything? Did they know something?
How I coped: I got extra scans. I think I got 2 extra scans before I felt kicks to reassure me. I told Matt I was going to and he encouraged me to do it. He "knew" everything was fine and it was just my anxiety freaking me out. But knew that an appointment was what I needed to reassure me.
Anxiety Trigger 4: I was seriously worried about birth. Yes the pain, but more specifically about the uncertainty of it. (Let me just say here - I know almost everyone worries about it. But I was incredibly anxious about it. To the point that having a baby didn't seem worth the uncertainty).
When would I go into labour (this one freaked me out sooo much)? How hard would the birth be? Would I cope? Will I go into panic during birth? What if *insert no less than 100 unlikely, but possible, scenarios here*.
How I coped: I discussed a caesarean with Matt (who I expected to talk me into a natural birth) who was super supportive of the idea. I discussed a caesarean with my obstetrician (who I expected to talk me into a natural birth) who was super supportive of the idea. The possibility of a c section became my reality and I was able to start coming to terms with it (and researching everything there is to know about it!) There is still uncertainty, yes, but I mostly know what to expect.
So, in short, my anxiety has been a roller coaster ride so far this pregnancy. And I expect that to continue for the next 13 weeks. And then through birth. And then through the first nights. And then through the newborn stages. And then when she starts to walk. Perhaps it will end when she goes through puberty, but probably not. Having methods in place and having a good support system can help you cope. We've got this, mamas.