Worries

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.

  

8 thoughts on “Worries

  1. Congratulation 16 weeks 😊
    All that pip needs is food and sleep. This was never going to be an easy pregnancy for you. But your nearly at the half way mark which is fab!! Pregnant days are officially 50,000 times longer than any other day. But pip is tucked up nice and safe inside you. At least neighbours is back on now to help pass the time of day 😜
    Do you have another scan booked? Xx

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    1. Neighbours being back on is of course a massive help! Luckily Paul was off work for the whole time it was off the air so I didn’t miss it too much! We haven’t booked another scan yet, they seem fairly able to fit people in at short notice, I’m thinking we may go again around 18 weeks, I don’t want to obsessively go all the time but 4 weeks seems a long time to wait for the next hospital scan! We’re seeing our midwife tomorrow, I’m hoping we’ll be able to hear a nice reassuring heartbeat 😊 💗 xx

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  2. I completely understand. I went through this after a loss I had at 10 week. My subsequent pregnancy had quite a lot of drama involved and I essentially kept waiting for something to go wrong. When I then had the experience of stillbirth, it only elevated my anxiety and fears. It was as if all my paranoia was justified. My son had a medical condition that explained his death – his renal system did not develop properly – but just the experience of losing a baby so late in pregnancy made me aware not just of what went wrong with that pregnancy but the whole host of things that can lead to the loss of a baby. I was on high alert the whole time. As I have shared with you before, my last pregnancy – the one following my stillbirth – was filled with problems so I had this perpetually elevated anxiety. I could not allow myself to feel excitement or hope because I feared the flipside of that. I did not buy a single thing for the baby except on the day of the anomaly scan. As a test, following the news that everything looked good, I bought a little hoodie for him. That was all I could do until he was safe in the outside world.

    I was very lucky in that my community midwives, perhaps given they were covering a small population, were willing to see me as often as I need, scan me even as often as I needed. After 20 weeks, I was being scanned twice a week anyway for medical reasons to do with the placenta. The scans were weird in that seeing the baby with the strong heartbeat and everything looking good was reassuring but knowing I was being so closely monitored, waiting for the crunch point where he would need to be quickly delivered, added to my anxiety.

    Like you, I have always been anxious and fearful. I think I am hard wired for stress. My husband says I don’t function unless I have something to stress out about and I think he is right. However, I do not know a single person who has experienced what we have who can then breeze through a subsequent pregnancy devoid of fear. It is a completely normal response to what we have endured. The fears might not be rational but the reason for them is.

    I did, incidentally, give myself some rules for when to contact the midwife. As much as they did not mind visiting me whenever I needed, I did not want to unsettle my older kids with all the hubbub. They were traumatised enough by what had happened. I bleed in pregnancy anyway so I told myself it had to be X amount of blood before I phoned. I also did kick counting obsessively and only contacted them if the baby did not meet the goal I had set for him – which was aligned with advice from Sands. I even had a kick counting bracelet to help me keep track of how many movements I had felt. If I just had general fears, I would set myself a time limit for calming down and would only contact the midwife if I was still experiencing a spike of anxiety after that time. Maybe that is the sort of compromise you could make?

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    1. It’s funny you mention the kick counting bracelet as my mother in law recently got one for me. It’s just so hard to believe that everything can and will be ok. I know stress isn’t good for Pip but then I stress about that too! I know it’s to be expected and in the circumstances I think I’m doing ok, June just can’t come quickly enough. Xxx

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      1. I had to count down the days of the week and then the weeks of the pregnancy. I had no other way I could get through it than “one day at a time”. Ultimately my last baby was born prematurely (all but my first came early) so I did not get through the whole countdown but it was almost like having a pep talk to score off that day on the calendar, like saying to myself, “Well you got through today so you can get through tomorrow”.

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  3. As a psychologist I’m compelled to remind you that most of what you learned about the world and how safe it is or isn’t, came from your parents in a socially learned way so genetics aren’t everything! I’m sure if you can allow Pip to explore and fall over with aplomb he can avoid the anxiety you’ve suffered.

    For all my training I’m learning more about anxiety at the moment than I ever learned for work! I thought I’d be straight to hospital with any concern this time but actually when I was freaking out the other day I was too scared to go and waited until the next day so I could see my own consultant. I wouldn’t even use my Doppler in case I could find a heartbeat! Everything was fine though. Now I’m worried that instead of overusing maternity services I might actually stay away for fear of bad news! So complicated!

    You are doing great to be functioning in the tough circumstances that you are, all you need to do is keep doing what you have been for the past 16 weeks xx

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    1. Thanks LanaSalt,
      I’m really aware that I’m going to need to allow Pip to explore and not pass my own anxieties on. We’re having our garden completely landscaped later this month and I’ve been really careful to choose materials that are safe to fall on. I want to be able to open the back door and let Pip go and play without constantly worrying! At least that way I can make it safer without Pip knowing I’m being mental! Paul’s very good at telling me when I’m letting my anxieties get the better of me and he’s much more relaxed so hopefully he’ll provide some balance for Pip.
      I know exactly what you mean about being scared in case of bad news. I’ve decided not to buy a Doppler as I think it would make me more anxious. I’m really glad that everything’s ok after your scare, let’s hope for no more scary times between now and June xxx

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