I’m one of those people who finds it very easy to imagine the worst in just about any situation. I’m sure it’s partly genetic (sorry Pip), my mum is a real worrier too. I’m the only person I know who was literally sent to school in cotton wool. I used to fall over a lot as a child but because my arms were short I used to fall straight onto my face. After several tumbles in the playground (who knew it was possible to get a fat lip in your top and bottom lip at the same time? I looked like a fish for about a week) my mum decided to stuff my woolly hat with cotton wool in an effort to cushion my head from falls. I panic if I’m somewhere crowded and always need to have an escape strategy in my head, ready for any situation. At a very young age I can remember asking my dad how I would stop the car if whoever was driving had a heart attack. It’s fair to say that worrying comes naturally to me.
Throughout my pregnancy with Lentil I worried, a lot. Whilst still in the first trimester I burst into tears at my parents house and told my mum I felt like I was just waiting for something to go wrong. I often seem to be working through probabilities and statistics in my head. It had even crossed my mind that none of our friends had lost a baby late in pregnancy so maybe it would be us. When things are going well it sometimes all seems too good to be true and I can’t help but wait for it all to come crashing down. I’m not sure why I think like this. I consider myself to be an optimistic person. I can see the bright side in most situations and I think I’m good at making the best of things.
Today I’m 16 weeks pregnant with Pip and I’ve been worried the whole time. Every twinge sets alarm bells ringing in my head and I’ve been unable to sleep the night before each scan. The scans give a brief respite from my panic as they reassure me that everything is fine, Pip’s heart is beating, Pip’s growing, all is exactly as it should be. Knowing that the scans are the only thing that calm me down Paul bought me the best Christmas present this year; as many private scans as I need to reassure me. He’d even booked the first one in, we went on the 2nd and my parents were allowed to come too which made it even more special. Pip was feeling particularly uncooperative, lying on his or her tummy, thumb in mouth, other hand on the back of his or her head, looking very relaxed and far too comfortable to move and give us a good look!
This week Paul has gone back to work, I’m not currently allowed to drive and I find public transport really hard to use (although living in Cornwall there isn’t a great deal of public transport to use!). So I have a lot of time to think, too much time to think. I’ve been distracting myself this week with online shopping. This provides the double distraction of the actual shopping and then the deliveries but I’m going to have to find a different distraction soon as this one can be a bit expensive, especially when you’re on maternity leave! I decided that some baby sales shopping would be good for me, I am hoping that it will help me to feel more excitement about Pip rather than just panic. I want to be able to see my future with Pip not constantly panic about what will happen if I have to say goodbye to Pip as well as Lentil.
Everything you read and hear when you’re pregnant tells you to trust your instincts. I didn’t with Lentil and I can’t help but regret that. After my waters had broken and before my labour had started properly I cried and said I wanted to go to the hospital for a c-section. I had been worried that Lentil hadn’t been very active but the midwife had been, I’d told her I was worried about lack of movement, Lentil’s heartbeat had been strong, I was reassured. I convinced myself I was being silly, that I was just scared of labour and I was looking for an easy way out. By the time the midwife returned my contractions had started properly, Lentil’s heartbeat was still strong and I had composed myself, I felt ready to welcome our baby into the world and felt confident in my ability to have my drug-free home birth. I can’t help but think now that if I’d gone into hospital when I had that panic, Lentil might be here with us now. In reality I know that there’s a good chance he wouldn’t be. His heart rate dropped so suddenly and we were rushed to hospital immediately but it’s hard to keep the ‘what ifs’ at bay.
After Lentil died I promised myself that I would trust my instincts next time but I’m finding myself completely unable to do so. If I called the midwife every time I had a panic I’d never be off the phone. My instincts are no longer to be trusted. During this pregnancy I have been scared to move, scared to go to the toilet, scared to leave the house, scared to let my dog sit on my lap, scared of every twinge, every symptom. Yet I didn’t realise that my thyroid had stopped working. I invented so many other potential problems but didn’t realise when there was actually a real problem so how can I now trust myself?
I’m trying very hard to be rational, to keep my logical head in charge, it’s just not always that easy. I know that worrying will not help and that I have to learn to trust myself again, it’s just easier said than done.