Pregnancy is a time that is different for everyone. It’s such an individual experience. I have heard some people say, “I felt the best I have ever felt being pregnant. I loved it!” Others feel ill the entire time, and their bodies just don’t accept the pregnancy in the best way.
Whether one is on one extreme or just somewhere in the middle– trudging through the more difficult seasons of pregnancy while smiling through the joys– I will say that there is something unique about the “first” pregnancy. Everything is new, everything is a first, everything is something to be analyzed (at least for most females 😉 )
I can’t believe I’m 10 weeks out– in some ways, that seems very close, and in other ways, it feels like an eternity away still. Regardless, I can look back on my first trimester and see how long ago that feels. Upon finding out I was expecting, one thing that seemed to plague me immediately was anxiety.
Anxiety… the seven letter word that affects so many women for so many reasons. For me, mostly it became about wanting to protect the growing baby in my belly. I was aware of every single physical change in my body (which in the world of pregnancy– is a lot– sometimes on a daily basis) and while this hyper-awareness can sometimes be good, it can also be a curse. Interestingly enough, as my baby has gotten bigger and I can feel him move around (and kick me in the ribs daily– thanks, little buddy), this anxiety has shifted from the unknown to an awareness of the huge responsibility before me.
I have been keeping a journal throughout my pregnancy of everything I have experienced, from weight gain to physical symptoms to emotional struggles. It has been really interesting to look back on. For one, I wanted to document this process, since just like everything else, I knew if I didn’t I would soon forget. But mostly, I want these notes to look back on someday, especially in future pregnancies, so I can compare. I will be able to read back on my weird symptom in the second trimester and be put at ease when I see that I experienced it the first time, too, and lived to tell about it.
Recently, I was updating the journal and at the end of my entry for the 21-24 weeks period, I wrote something that caught my eye…
“I still have anxiety related to the huge responsibility this is, especially now that I’ve seen baby boy’s face and know his gender, and feel him moving around… I am his source of life and protection. It’s big. I can’t wait to meet him, and cannot imagine if anything happened to him and I’ve not even held him in my arms yet. It’s just a daily surrender of his life to God, His Creator. I don’t have control, anyway, and he belongs in God’s hands. I love him so much already!”
Writing has always been therapeutic for me; some people like to talk out their troubles verbally, but I’ve always been a non-verbal processor. I often don’t know just exactly how I feel until I write about it. And it’s in my writing that I can usually come full circle. (My encouragement to you is to find what works for you and do it– if talking is your medicine– then find a trusted friend or family member to share what’s on your mind– or if you’re the internal type, take a walk or write in a journal).
It makes me realize that my anxiety comes down to what anyone’s anxiety is about: control. When we feel lack of control (which, let’s face it– as a mom, is quite often!!), we resort to worry to fool ourselves into thinking we have some sort of power over the situation.
I recently watched a documentary on minimalism with my husband and on it, they talked about worry. The point was to try to minimize things in your life that clutter it up and don’t add value. But it was so interesting because one of the guys on it being interviewed shared the thought that the best advice he’s ever received on the subject of worry is to ask himself, “Is this useful?” Most of the thoughts we allow to dictate our minds are neither useful nor logical for everyday living. If the thought is not useful, then do not think it. Put it away and move on.
My husband just nodded his head in agreement and said, “That has always been my philosophy with worrying.”
Of course it has 😉 He has the most logical, black-and-white-thinking mind on the planet. He is also extremely non-reactive and calm in most everyday situations. He is able to process thoughts and emotions on a level that heeds this advice… and a lot of men can. But a hormonal woman?
This is why I am so thankful that God knows what He is doing in putting together a male and female in marriage! It’s this team effort that helps diffuse a lot of the “alarmist” thinking that we women obsess over in regards to anxiety and our abilities to mother and the states of our children.
There are a lot of things I can be worrying about in regards to this pregnancy and the little life inside me. If I were to fathom all of the things that could possibly go wrong, I could send myself into a panic attack. But are these useful thoughts? Are these necessary paths to visit?
My one ebenezer with anxiety in regards to “what if this happened to me” sort of thinking is this: I have lived a pretty blessed life, but it has not been without it’s hardship. And in those hardships, when things were thrown my way, did I survive? Did I have the support network I needed to get through? Yes. It maybe wasn’t a pleasant experience and it took awhile to move through it, but with God’s grace, I did, and I have. I can look at others’ experiences of tragedy and get wide-eyed and think, “If that happened to her or her child or her husband, then surely it could happen to me! What would I do? I’d just die!”
Not useful. No need to “live” every painful scenario that may (but likely won’t) ever plague us. And if the painful times do come, so does God and His help. He supplies grace for the day, and those that love us offer prayers for the process. When we adopt a mindset of anxiety, it’s because we believe we know what will be best (and what would be worst) for our lives. And surely, we do not.
So my conclusion to this very deep, drawn-out post on anxiety 🙂 is this… Pregnancy is the beginning of a journey. It comes with so many new changes, both physical and emotional. It is truly a gift of Life. Yes– it’s a big deal! There are so many things that “could” go wrong. But there are also millions of things that go right. Anxiety and a need to protect doesn’t stop once the baby is born… in fact, it probably increases exponentially. But with “useful” thinking, a teachable heart, and anxieties that are stopped in their tracks and handed to the real Creator, a mother can be exactly where she needs to be: present in the moment.