First Trimester Fears: Pregnancy Anxiety
I’m not really a ‘worry about the future’ kinda person.
That old saying ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ is the complete antithesis to my conviction – this baffles and infuriates my sister to no end. I think it’s probably because nothing in my life has ever actually gone according to plan, no matter how good the plan, so somewhere along the line I gave up on it. So far, it’s working out fine. I have, however, discovered that I am not immune to the anxiety and that often associates pregnancy, particularly first trimester fears and reservations. For once, I’m starting to wonder if I might have to actually have a plan… Is it time to worry about the future?
Through trawling Facebook groups and online forums, I’ve discovered that my pregnancy fears and anxiety are totally normal. Maybe you’ll resonate with some of them too, otherwise I’d love to hear what’s keeping you up at night too (besides cravings and insomnia, of course).
I don’t believe I’m pregnant. I can’t believe I’m going to have a baby… this isn’t real.
Yes, truly. I found out I was pregnant at just 4 weeks, a discovery made completely by accident after I gave myself concussion. Besides the complete exhaustion, which was as much to do with the concussion as the pregnancy, I had absolutely no symptoms. Still, at almost 12 weeks, I have barely a symptom to speak of, no sign of a bump, no particular cravings, aversions, or heightened sense of smell… I do now have a pregnancy test, HCG hormone results, and two scans to confirm that I am actually going to have a baby.
It wasn’t really until the second scan at 8 weeks, or perhaps when we finally found our midwife and she let us listen to the baby’s heartbeat at 10 weeks, that I began to accept that this was real. Prior to this, I discovered that other people find it quite strange when you tell them you’re pregnant but you don’t actually believe you are… I must have sounded like a Princess Diana conspiracy theorist.
My symptoms have disappeared. The baby must have stopped growing. The baby’s heart has stopped.
Though my symptoms have been almost null and void the entire time, that week that I found out I was pregnant, I was at least exhausted. The following weeks (5-6) I think I had slightly sore boobs, and felt like peanut butter more than usual (or was I imagining it) but since then, nothing.
I know how lucky I am, how unwell some poor mums-to-be get with morning sickness, and have even seen first-hand the completely debilitating effects of Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the severe sickness Kate Middleton had during both her pregnancies. I’m absolutely not complaining about the lack of symptoms or sickness. Sometimes, I’d just like a little confirmation that the baby is in fact still growing and still alive.
Of course, the one day I did have a tiny cramp, I was certain that was the end of everything… which leads me to:
I’m scared I’m going to have a miscarriage.
It’s been a long time since I’ve taken any interest in statistics (if ever) but after finding out I was pregnant so early, I have to admit I’ve been analysing the likelihood of miscarriage week by week, factoring in my age (under 30) and weight (healthy range), and allocating myself a percentage.
A part of me thinks I did this to prepare myself for the worst, so that I wouldn’t be in complete shock and despair if I did have a miscarriage. I’m not sure that statistics and percentages would ever actually alleviate any of the inevitable shock and despair if I did actually miscarry, but something about narrowing my chances down to a one digit number reassured me, in some way.
By the way, is it just me, or does reading that 15–25% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage, and 80% of these miscarriages occur in the first trimester make you feel absolutely paralysed with anxiety?
My body is never going to be the same.
The trouble with this pregnancy fear in particular, is that you know it’s not irrational or unfounded. After pregnancy, your body is never going to be the same. While there’s inspiration to be found in the insta-Mums who share the tiger stripes they earned, or wear their baby belly as a badge of honour of motherhood, I can’t help but think how unfair it is that my husband gets to become a parent and keep his body – especially as he’d care a lot less about post-partum pooch than I might.
It’s vain, I know, I admit that I’m being shallow, and the blessing that I have been given is worth more than any version of my body I’ve ever had, but it’s also the truth. As someone who overcame an eating disorder and put on almost 10 kg just to be able to conceive, I really need to get over this last remaining pretension and work on accepting my body in whatever shape it is in after this journey.
Oh… and while we’re talking about body, what on earth is going to happen down there? Had you heard of a stage four tear, or ‘perinieal laceration’ prior to getting pregnant? Neither. I’m not even sure I know how to comment on this fear, other than that I’m quite happy with things the way they are.
How are we going to afford a baby?
While I’m quite comfortable with our financial position, along with everything else changing next year, our budget is going to have to as well. We own our own home, but we have a house full of flatmates. We’re both working, but I work for myself, running one business that absorbs up 90% of my time, and another smaller business that soaks up the rest.
I absolutely love my work, and I’m so fortunate to have the ability to work from home, and keep flexible working hours, but unless my baby actually sleeps through the night from the day we get home, and sleeps quietly all day, waking for the occasional easy and peaceful feed, I can’t see how I’m going to keep up with everything.
Did I mention that babies are expensive? A cot, pram and car-seat are only the beginning, and even if we’re given enough baby clothes to get through the first few months, we’re in for a life-time of expenses. This was almost enough to make me want to run out and buy a a new handbag for myself, one last impractical purchase, but when I found myself browsing the shelves, I kept wondering which would be the most suitable nappy bag… backpack or neverfull.
First world problems I know – we will be okay. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say this didn’t cross my mind every time I swipe my Visa frivolously… am I spending the dollars that would otherwise give my baby the best start in life?
I do have a choice.
While nothing will alleviate my pregnancy fears, and I will always manage to find something to be anxious about, what I have realised, is that this is only the start, and I do have a choice.
Parents don’t stop worrying about their babies when they leave the womb: about whether they’re still breathing; whether they’re being given the best education and opportunities; if they’re safe at school or walking to the bus-stop; or whether they’re driving carefully; or choosing the right boyfriends (or girlfriends). I don’t have the mental energy to paralyse myself with worry for the next 18, 30, or 50 years, so I’m putting a stop to it now.
As someone who knows that life is impractical to plan, I also know it’s impossible to safeguard. I won’t ever know if this baby is 100% safe inside me, just as there is no point in worrying about when/if or how my body (or my bank balance) will recover. All we can do is our best, and positively hope for the best too.
All I’m thinking about now is bringing my baby into the world with my mind calm and my resolve positive. I hope you might be able to do the same.
Que será será, whatever will be will be.