Anxiety is Not the Same as Fear
“With there being very little antenatal care in my community I
began to feel frustrated that the care needed was coming
either too late or not at all. My frustration turned into a
realisation that I had to do something to help support this
crisis, that’s when Beautiful New Beginnings was born with
the ethos to support and empower parents on their parenting
journey from birth.” Carolyn
Until I was pregnant, I had never experienced intense anxiety.
My eyes still well up when I think about the time that I did. I
would feel silly talking about it then, because I couldn’t make
sense of my own mind. So I didn’t breathe a word. I sat in
silence and let the world pass me by, every day thinking that
surely I should have been overjoyed that I was expecting my
first child, but I was terrified, scared and very lonely. I
became irritable, especially when I didn’t understand
something or hadn’t had the best of sleep, because of the
worries that raced through my mind. I kept going over and
over what life with a baby was going to be like.
All this anxiety feels like it should be excitement. It’s therefore
one of the hardest things to talk about openly without feeling
like the worst mother in the world, before you’ve even become
one! This can affect your sleep patterns when you’re
pregnant. Thoughts of the upcoming birth and parenting
guides is enough to give anyone sleepless nights.
Time was my particular enemy in the fight against anxiety. I
was counting down the months, weeks and days until my due
date, because obviously my baby was going to come on time,
right? Wrong! I went over. Those days felt like years! I would
call the midwife when I got a twitch, to be told to wait until
my waters broke, or until I was in that much pain I had to
come in. I was told, you’ll just know when it’s the real thing.
But how would I know? This was my first baby.
The midwives know their role inside and out; I just didn’t
realise then that their calmness was necessary. After all, I
wasn't the only woman in labour who needed their attention.
But my anxiety took over and it felt like I was failing before
my baby was even born. How didn't I know what real labour
was? Of course the anxiety of not being good enough or
knowing enough had been present throughout my pregnancy.
Even though I was healthy, didn’t smoke or drink and
exercised regularly, I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough or
getting anything right.
Stories of miscarriages particularly played on my mind.
Sitting in the hospital waiting room, booked in for my 20 week
scan with my first born, I met a woman whose first pregnancy
had ended in miscarriage. She was so nervous about her
second. Although she walked out smiling and holding her
new scan photo that day, I was shaken by what could happen
to any woman.
I knew that I had to get out of this mindset. I needed to walk
away from it all, so I did just that.
My next blog will explain how I did this.