Pregnancy and motherhood have kicked my butt.
Scares and ultrasounds through the first trimester. Monitoring our son in Seattle every few weeks during my second trimester, all to be told he looked perfect at 29 weeks. Then being in the hospital twice for preterm labor. Lots of sleepless nights trying to time contractions and decide if I needed to go in.
On top of it all, a very real anxiety disorder and PTSD from my brain tumor and missed miscarriage. Constantly fearing bad news. Afraid of having it all ripped away from me again. Panic attacks for the span of every ultrasound.
Then, an eventful 24-hour labor that left me afraid to ever do this again.
And now, holding my sweet baby boy, whom I love so much it hurts. Being afraid to go to sleep at night because I want to watch him and make sure he’s OK. Having to make decisions about his care. Everyone having differing opinions about what’s right and wrong.
Before I became a mom, when I was terrified of not ever being able to conceive–and of course after my miscarriage–I didn’t get it. I’d hear about moms struggling and think “wow, she should just be thankful she’s pregnant/has kids.”
But now I’m realizing more and more that just because something’s a huge blessing doesn’t mean it’s easy.
As I’ve struggled I’ve often had friends and family members tell me I just needed to be more thankful, or count my blessings, or realize how blessed I am. But that’s just the reason us anxious people often struggle. Because I am so in shock that I actually get to be a mom, that I’m terrified. I’m not ungrateful one bit, and this blessing is far from lost on me.
I spent my whole pregnancy convinced I was going to lose him, so of course when he was born I had a hard time connecting and understanding that he was really here, healthy and all.
And I shouldn’t have had to be ashamed to admit I was struggling. I didn’t need to hear things like “you know all that stress affects the baby”, “you’re just making this harder on yourself”, or “it could be worse.”
Because for many women pregnancy is hard, uncomfortable, scary, tiring, and feels unending at times.
Then you’ve got taking care of a newborn, which is no joke. Those first few weeks were amazing and also very emotional. Having him outside of me all of the sudden was terrifying. I was a sleep-deprived, hormonal, anxiety-ridden, sore postpartum mess.
And I felt like I had to hide it.
All I’d ever heard about was that instant love connection, of not caring how difficult it is because of how much you love them. Not being so exhausted by the time you push your baby out that you can barely keep your eyes open enough to see them. Not feeling terrified to take them home because you have no freaking idea how to take care of a real-life human baby who depends on you for everything–even if you are the eldest of 5 kids.
…or still feeling like you’re flying by the seat of your pants nearly six months later.