Pregnancy and Worrying Go Hand in Hand
When we began trying to conceive and were unsuccessful the first month, I began to worry that it would take months and months – or, worse, that we wouldn’t be able to have to kids at all. I know how ridiculous that sounds because I am well aware that, for many couples, it takes several months for conception to occur, and this is completely normal. In retrospect, I recognize how incredibly lucky we are to have conceived our healthy baby boy within just two months, and I don’t take it for granted for a minute. Still, though, looking back, the worry that I would be living the two week wait over and over again was real.
My conception worries were, thankfully, short-lived. However, the minute I got a positive pregnancy test my worries immediately transitioned to the “what if I miscarry?” variety. The first trimester – actually, a good portion of my second trimester, too, if I’m being honest – was spent hardly believing that the pregnancy would result in me giving birth to a healthy baby. At every little ache or pain, I spent way too many hours scouring the Internet for an explanation. While I’m of the mindset that it is good to be informed about the possible risk factors of anything in life, pregnancy included, this was mostly counterintuitive. It resulted in way too many stories about fateful 12 week ultrasounds that discovered that a baby had stopped developing at the 8 week mark or late miscarriages that occurred after the mother had already happily told her boss and colleagues about her pregnancy, to name just a few examples. I think I rationalized that if I didn’t get my hopes up, I wouldn’t be as heartbroken if something were to go wrong.
The Internet assured me that once I passed the critical 24 week mark, I would be able to breathe easily. However, while I know the risk of stillbirth is quite small compared to miscarriage, which is sadly quite common, the thought of losing the baby still lingered at the back of my mind. Oddly, I never worried too much about genetic abnormalities or other health conditions. For some reason, my worry centred on losing the baby due to miscarriage or stillbirth.
This wasn’t helped by the fact that our baby isn’t super active. He does move around semi-regularly, but there’s often no pattern to his movements and, until about week 30, he would sometimes go a day or two without my feeling him move at all. I think this can be attributed, in part, to my placenta being in front of the baby, preventing me from feeling all his movements, and also due to him simply being a relatively docile baby. Even now, at nearly 35 weeks, he still has quiet days, but if I lay down and concentrate on doing my kick counts, I generally detect enough movements to ease my worries.
Now that I’m well into my third trimester and the arrival of our baby boy is just weeks away, it feels more real – and I’m happy to report that my worries have dissipated, if only slightly. As I get closer to actually giving birth, thoughts of something going wrong during the process occasionally crop up, but I try to focus on the positive: I’m healthy and we currently have a healthy baby. I also have a supportive husband and a team of knowledgeable healthcare professionals to assist us. Women have been giving birth for centuries and, while sadly there are multiple things that could go wrong, the majority of births go right.
So, now that I’ve detailed all my fears, both rational and irrational, you’ll probably be surprised when I say that, generally, I think I'm fairly level-headed. However, when it comes to our baby, the uneasiness is ever-present. Maybe I'm just a worrier, or maybe it's a "Welcome to Motherhood" wake up call, since my own parents and in-laws assure me the worrying never stops once you become a parent. Thank goodness I have Adam, my level-headed husband, to ground me when I want to go to the hospital at 3 am because the baby isn’t moving enough. (Note: If you're genuinely worried, you absolutely should go to the hospital, even if just for the peace-of-mind. I had some bleeding early in my pregnancy and went to the ER twice, which was well worth it when a healthy heartbeat was detected. It’s better to be safe than sorry). Fortunately, though, in our case, after a little reassuring from Adam, I always feel more relaxed and, sure enough, the baby moves.
At the risk of painting myself as an anxiety-ridden mom-to-be who worries unnecessarily, I share this because, despite all the excitement that comes with pregnancy and welcoming a new baby into the world, it can also be a trying time emotionally. I imagine hormones are partially responsible for my heightened anxiety, as is the big life change that’s about to occur. There’s certainly a fine line between being informed and dwelling on worst case scenarios – and I may cross that line a little too often. While worrying is normal, to a certain extent, in cases like mine where those worries are mostly unfounded, we also have to be able to push our fears aside as focus on the positives.