Mom Anxiety

Something that I rarely admit to others is that I struggle with anxiety. I’ve always been an anxious kid. I remember not being able to fall asleep at night as I spent hours worrying about something that happened at school earlier that day. I would check my alarm clock about 15 times before I went to bed to make sure that it truly was set. As I got older and moved out on my own, I had to check to make sure everything was unplugged and turned off multiple times before I could leave the house.

Despite this, I thought I had everything under control. I never needed to talk to anyone about it because, although it added extra time to my day every day, it didn’t make my life unbearable. It was all stuff that, in my head, was completely manageable.

That was, until I got pregnant. The second I saw that second like on my First Response pregnancy test, my anxiety went into overdrive.

I worried about everything you could possibly ever imagine.

Chemicals. Toxins. Bacteria. Parasites. Germs. EVERY SINGLE THING YOU CAN IMAGINE. I became an expert at anything and everything related to pregnancy and hidden dangers.

I remember walking with my husband around the neighborhood when I was about 6 weeks pregnant and looking about 100 ft ahead and seeing someone having their yard sprayed by a pest company. I freaked out. I refused to walk past that house and went straight home.

I spent hours googling about it. Thinking of all the ways my baby could be harmed.

A couple of weeks later, there was a small fire a few miles away from our house. The firefighter planes flew above us and sprayed fire retardant on the nearby houses to help protect them. Once again, I panicked. I refused to leave the house. Not only was the toxic smoke going to harm my unborn baby but so was the fire retardant… I had a full-on breakdown about the experience.

I wouldn’t eat any of our homegrown vegetables because there were cats in our yard that could have possibly pooped in the area (despite having it fenced) which could infect me with toxoplasmosis.

There were countless other times throughout my pregnancy where I went from 0 to 60 with my anxiety. 

I never spoke about it to my doctor. I was embarrassed by it. I knew I was often being irrational, but I didn’t want to admit to that. My husband, while he became more and more frustrated with my anxiety, didn’t want to go over my head and talk to the doctor about it either. He tried to support me the best he could which meant comforting me when I would have my panic attacks.

After my son was born, my anxiety turned something more intense.

I still had anxiety. I would stay up long after he fell asleep (when I desperately needed sleep) just to make sure he was still breathing. I purchased first a Snuzu and then an Owlet to help manage my anxiety about his sleep. After my son got sick and had issues breathing at 6 weeks, I spent countless hours googling retractions, watching videos on Youtube, and asking questions on BabyCenter blogs about his illness (after multiple appointments to his doctor as well as an ER visit).

I noticed that my anxiety was starting to come about in different ways as my son got older. In the past, I would spend all my time researching whatever caused me alarm and just thinking about it nonstop. However, now, I was starting to have lots of anger and rage with my anxiety…directed solely at my husband. I was always angry at him.

My husband, while not being the absolute perfect person in the world, is a good father and partner. He’s always an equal parent. He is willing to change diapers (and tends to do so more than me), plays with our son, cares for him, lets me sleep in every single weekend, and so on. However, he never worried or planned like I did. He wasn’t the one that had the so-called mental load on him. He didn’t think about doctor’s appointments or our son’s laundry and what we needed to feed him in order to make sure he was getting his nutritional needs met. It was me. And this, combined with my anxiety with other concerns, caused me to become unbelievable angry. I was mad at him for not worrying about our son all the time. I was angry that he didn’t think about all the things that I thought about nonstop every day. And this wasn’t his fault that he didn’t think about these things.

After many angry episodes, I decided that I was tired of always being worried. I was tired of always being anxious about everything.

When my son was about 8 months old, I finally sought help. I went to my doctor and was prescribed medicine.

While the medication didn’t completely help me control my anxious thoughts, I did find that I started to relax more. After a couple months, I no longer had the rage blackouts I would have towards my husband. I actually enjoyed hanging out with my husband again. I remember why I loved him. I appreciated what he did to help me out and how good he was with our son.  

I stayed on the medication for about 8 months. I slowly weaned off it, with the guidance of my doctor, once I felt like I finally had control of things.

I still suffer with anxiety to this day. However, I’m learning how to better control it via other ways. I try to exercise. I try to meditate. And I try to talk about it as much as I can.

Mom, Interrupted.

As I sat in my son’s room, getting ready for that night’s bedtime routine, I burst out in tears.

I just couldn’t do this anymore.

It’s not that I didn’t love being a mom. I loved my son more than anything in the whole entire world. I loved him so much that it overwhelmed me. I spent my time thinking about him always. Was he saying enough words for his age? Is he getting sick? Should I be working on his socialization more? How many more clean PJs does he have before I need to do another load of laundry?

So many things raced through my head every second of every day that it was like a never-ending game of anxiety. On top of my constant thoughts and fears, I also worked full time at a semi-stressful job.

Everything was a constant balancing act.

Every morning, my routine went like this: Get up at 5 am, take shower, put on makeup, make sure I look halfway decent for the day (while actually looking like a mess). Put lunches together, pack up the car, let the dogs out to go to the bathroom, make sure dogs and cat have food and water, pray that the dogs don’t pee on something or destroy something while I’m gone, wake my son up (who never wants to get up at 6 am), get him changed and dressed, get him some food and milk, pack him in the car and leave, drop him off with childcare, and then finally go to work where I spend half the time thinking of my son and what he’s doing.

Once I leave the office: I rush back to pick up my son, run home (if I don’t need to run to the grocery store first to get food), try to spend some quality time with him (which to be honest only lasts 10-15 minutes), start making a semi-healthy dinner, unload the previous night’s dishes, chase after son while attempting to do previously listed tasks, serve dinner, eat, clean up after dinner, make lunches for the next day, try to spend some more time with my son, and then bedtime routine.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this story. Sitting in my son’s room, trying to keep it together but unable to do so.

I think about my life. Everything seems to be a disaster. My house is always a mess. I can never keep up with everything. I hardly spend time with my son as I’m always working and when I’m home, I’m so busy cleaning, cooking, and doing chores around the house. I feel like I am failing at everything. I’m not used to failing. I was a 4.0 student who never struggled. I have always been an excellent employee who got the job done in advance of the deadline with praise and raises.

But, as a Mom, I felt as though I was failing.

My son saw me crying (which unfortunately will leave me with a host of other feelings of guilt – should I let him see me cry like this? How will this affect him? Am I just being irrational right now?) – and he came up to me and gave me the biggest hug and kiss.

My feelings of failure began to vanish.

I may not always be doing the best at everything but that’s okay. I am human. So is everyone else. I can’t be one of those Pinterest or Instagram moms who has a picture-perfect life. Hell, I can hardly get my laundry folded before I need to wear it.

But, at least for now, I am with my son and happy.