Note: Today’s guest post is written by warrior mom Andrea Bates from Good Girl Gone Redneck, addressing the often overlooked issue of pregnancy and anxiety.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was over the moon excited. Beyond thrilled. And, if I’m being honest, a little bit shocked.
As someone submerged in the mental health field, I was on the ball. I knew what to look for. I knew what could happen.
I knew about postpartum depression. I knew about maternal mental health. I knew from anxiety. I experienced it in my regular life.
Pre-motherhood. Regular. You know? The basic days of work and school, caring for pets, becoming a wife. Moving across several states. Away from friends and family.
I knew anxiety. I knew it could hit me. I was ready.
But I never knew how hard it would hit.
My experience was during pregnancy. People focus on postpartum mental health a lot. Many mamas don’t know that they can experience this during pregnancy, as well.
I’m here to tell you it happens.
Even when you’re armed with information.
Even when you think you know what you’re looking for.
You know so much, and yet—when it hits you? You’re never quite ready.
I had no idea the thoughts would come so quickly.
Would race—unstoppable—through my head.
I didn’t know my heart would pound. The tears would fall.
I didn’t know my fears would escalate.
I didn’t know I’d fear for my baby’s life for no reason.
For. No. Reason.
Nothing was wrong. Pregnant women have fears. For certain. These were beyond the “norm.” These were intense.
I rationalized with myself. I told myself the doctors would tell me if something was wrong with my baby.
I knew they would. Of course they would!
Realistically I knew that.
But it didn’t matter.
I tossed and turned in bed as my husband slept blissfully beside me.
How could he just SLEEP? Didn’t he know how terrifying this was? Wasn’t he worried about our baby?
I reached a point where it was time.
I spoke with my doctor and started medication.
I have no shame.
Medication helped me remain calm. Helped me get through pregnancy with restful nights.
Turned off those racing voices.
Prepped me for motherhood in some ways, as I truly believe that addressing my anxiety during pregnancy helped me to avoid experiencing more intense postpartum anxiety. Keeping the lines of communication with my doctors wide open ensured that I was being watched and helped right away.
I was fortunate to have this help early on. My anxiety after my daughter was born was certainly there. It shifted through stages as she grew and changed. There were days I felt it like a brick on my chest. But I made it. I found my way through. I shifted the brick. Tossed it to the side.
I confess, it still shows up every now and then. My daughter is eight. I still get anxious. I still feel moments where things are out of my hands and my mind jumps ahead. But I talk myself through it. I turn to friends. I find the support and reminders I need that things will be okay. I will be okay.
After all, look at what I’ve already survived. Look at what I’ve made it through. I’ll be fine.
Original image credit: mateusd.