What I Thought I Would Feel When I Had the Baby
When I was pregnant, I was so optimistic about what life would be like with a baby. I had a few friends who had unplanned pregnancies tell me how they didn’t think they were ready for kids, but the moment that baby was placed on their chest, they thought, “I want more!” Well, let me tell you. I distinctly remember the doctor pulling the baby out…she plopped her on my chest, and I thought, “Yea, I’m good.”
Everyone also tells you about this intense instant love that you have for your baby, but I didn’t necessarily feel it how I thought I would. It was more of a cognitive, “I know I love you and will do anything and everything for you,” but as for actual feelings…they weren’t so mushy, is all I can say.
In those first few days, I was fairly gracious with myself. I was aware of how I was feeling and there was a song lyric that kept popping into my head, “grace, grace, for all those who love Jesus Christ…” I just had a major life event, my hormones were all out of sorts, and I was physically in pain and sleep deprived. I gave myself permission to feel whatever it was I was feeling, even if it wasn’t what I had anticipated.
The Prevailing Feeling Post Labor
But after we left the hospital, another feeling started to creep in, completely blindsiding me, and it continues to persist until now – anxiety. Sure, in the past, I’ve dealt with anxiety, but not to this extent. It’s hard to say what’s normal and what’s not, but in the past, I got anxious occasionally about certain issues or events. I think I learned to cope with the anxiety and it would resolve itself over time.
I did not expect anxiety to accompany motherhood in the way it has for me.
some of the things that have made me anxious over the last year:
Breastfeeding – Am I producing enough milk? Is baby extracting enough milk?
Baby isn’t gaining enough weight. What if she is diagnosed with failure to thrive? What if they call CPS? How am I going to explain that I’m a former social worker and now my baby has failure to thrive?! I’m going to be considered a negligent parent!
Jaundice – is her bilirubin going down? Is she going to be yellow forever? Is it okay that we took her out to be in the sun even though everything says we’re not supposed to because she can’t wear SPF yet?
Pacifier –is she going to have nipple confusion?!
Formula – is this the right formula? Am I a failure because I’m not producing enough milk? She might have an allergic reaction to this formula, what should I use now?
Is baby getting enough milk? Is she waking up in the middle of the night because she’s hungry?
How many times is she going to wake up tonight? WHEN?!
What time is she going to nap today?
How can I schedule a meeting with my discipleship group when I don’t known when Hope is going to go down for a nap or how long she will stay awake?
Is she gaining enough weight?
She’s not eating enough solids.
Other babies are developing faster.
COVID-19 – when I go back to work, I could contract it and spread it to Hope. When she goes to her grandparents, she could give it to them. Or, they could give it to her.
Returning to work – I’m never going to get to spend as much time with Hope as the last few months.
Naps – How is Hope going to nap at her grandparent’s house?
Feeding – How is she going to eat? How will I package the food? I need to get plates with suction for the grandparents. Will they cut her food small enough?
Pool – What do I do if the grandparents don’t want to get a safety gate/fence around their pool?
Cameras – What happens when we set up cameras and actually see something we don’t like. How are we going to have that conversation?
Sleep – What time is Hope going to have to wake up to leave for grandparent’s house? It’s too early. She’ll have a super early bedtime and I’ll never get to spend time with her!
Milk Supply – I just got my period and my milk supply just tanked. Now I’m worried that breastfeeding will end before Hope is ready, or before I’m ready.
Nursing – Is she getting enough breastmilk since my supply decreased? Is she getting enough liquids in general? Is she crying because she is constipated? How do I get her to drink more liquids. I’ll offer her milk and water in a sippy cup and/or regular cup. She takes sips but not a significant amount of liquid intake. Her diapers are barely wet. She’s going to be dehydrated!
Moms Are Anxious About Everything
I know, it’s probably a little terrifying, but that’s just a little glimpse into my mom brain on any given day. When I talk to other moms, they all nod in agreement and tell me this is what it’s going to be like from now on. I understand that there is an element of worry when you’re a mom, and lack of control, but it’s hard for me to believe that this chronic sub-level of anxiety is normal and/or pleasing to God.
What Does God Say About Anxiety?
“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42
Many times, I’m anxious and troubled by many things, obviously. But here, God is reminding me that that isn’t good. My anxiety doesn’t please him, and all the things that trouble me don’t matter. Instead, he says, “but one thing is necessary.” What is the one thing? It’s the one thing that Mary is doing, which is sitting at the feet of Jesus – talking to him, but probably mostly listening to him. So in the midst of all my troubles and anxiety, I need to sit at the feet of Jesus. God is telling me, that’s the only thing that matters. When I do that, I can see clearly. I can have maybe a glimpse of his eternal perspective instead of my narrow perspective.
How To Manage Anxiety in a Practical Way
Especially when I was working from home during the start of COVID-19, there were days I just woke up anxious. There was one verse that I repeated to myself.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
On days when I really struggled (and continue to struggle) with anxiety, I pray this verse in chunks. First, I prayed, “Lord, your word says, ‘do not be anxious about anything.’ Help me not be anxious.”
‘But in everything by prayer with supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.’ So then, I literally list all the things I’m anxious about and present them to God. “God, you know I am anxious about whether or not Hope is getting enough to eat, growing, my milk supply, how long I’ll be able to nurse, weaning when that time comes, grandparents watching her, her safety, whether or not I should continue school, my ability to balance working from home and COVID. What will happen if I have to return to work, etc. Help me give those worries over to you.”
Then, I recite the rest of the scripture, claiming God’s promises, knowing that they are true and God is faithful. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus!” When I end the prayer, I know God will alleviate my anxiety because his word says he will. He will give me a peace that surpasses all understanding.
If you’re a mama, or if you’re not, but you struggle with anxiety, give it all to Jesus. Lay your troubles at his feet and just sit with him. He will meet with you where you are.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30