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Because Pregnancy Makes You Crazy, Period

Oct12

by

Amalah,
I guess I don’t know what I’m really looking for, be it advice, words of support, somebody to tell me to snap out of it… these are all acceptable responses to this email.
My problem is not really a problem at all, in fact, it’s wonderful, I should be overjoyed. I am pregnant with my first child, and it really is something that I wanted. I would bug my husband, “Can we have a baby?” at least once a day. However our plan was to wait until my husband graduated school and got a job. Well, I guess we’re not good planners, because here I am, 7 weeks pregnant. I guess that now we’ll have lots to celebrate in May, both my husband graduating and a sweet little baby.
However, I just can’t seem to get happy. I’m scared to death that we won’t have enough money, that my husband won’t be able to find a job when he graduates, that we’ll never get our debts paid off, that we’ll never be able to buy a house, etc, etc. I just can’t focus on being happy, I have too much to worry about. I’m trying my best to stay positive, but it’s not really working.
My husband is being extremely supportive, but as a full time engineering student, he’s got his hands full as well. We have moments of joy, but I’m just racked with so much fear and anxiety that I can barely get anything done. Now I’m afraid that my work will start to suffer, and good god I can’t possibly lose my job.
Of course there’s more, add on additional family drama and now grandparents who want to know every little thing that’s going on with me I just feel like all the pressure is on me, and I’m starting to crack. So please, if you or any other AlphaFoxyMama has ever had similar issues, please lend me a hand. And, also, please give me as many great money-saving tips for being a first-time mom as you can. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Thanks in advance,
Allison

Oh dear girl, welcome to pregnancy. It’s all so normal. And awful. And NORMAL.
I don’t want to sound like I’m brushing all your very real worries off with a dismissive wave of “oh it’s just hormones and female troubles“, but oh my God, the hormones that are coursing through your body right now. They are vicious. They are unlike anything on earth, and everyone reacts to them differently.
Some women throw up for weeks on end, while some women immediately want ice cream and pickles. Some women cry all the time. Some women want sex all the time. And some women can’t stop worrying about every little thing on earth, and every little thing turns into a BIG THING because you are going through this BIG THING and everything is BIG and IMPORTANT and TERRIFYING.
And if this teeth-rattling anxiety weren’t bad enough to begin with, you’ve got all kind of nitwits reminding you to “enjoy this precious special time!” and saying stuff like “you must be so excited!” and you will derive a disturbing level of comfort from imagining them getting run over by a bus.
But then you start worrying that the nitwits are right. You worry that you are some kind of freak for NOT enjoying this precious special time. You worry that it says something about your future mothering abilities.
But the nitwits are not right. You are not some kind of freak. When I think back on my own pregnancy, the one symptom that stands out the most — more than the puking and farting and swelling– was the near-constant buzz of anxiety. I felt exactly the way you describe. We’d made a mistake. The timing was off. Our marriage would suffer. Our careers would suffer. Our finances were nowhere near where they should be and blah blah blaaaaah.
People told me to relax. To get a massage and a pedicure and shop for baby clothes. But of course, I was too freaked out about money to treat myself like that, so I generally just worked a lot of overtime in order to balance out all the mistakes that I just KNEW I must be making in my addlepated state.
But here’s the thing: you are seven weeks along. You are in the absolute thick of the hormone craziness. You probably just look and feel bloated instead of pregnant. You probably haven’t told a lot of people yet. You haven’t felt the baby kick or seen him on an ultrasound or done any of the things that actually ARE kind of precious and special.
So please. Give yourself a break. It’s completely okay to not be completely over the moon and in love with the hypothetical little question mark in your womb just yet. It’s perfectly natural to worry about the future, particularly when its full of so many Big Unknowns. And it’s okay to maybe not feel super happy all the damn time.
I hope this doesn’t sound ultra-wishy-washy-touchy-feely, but acknowledging your anxieties rather than beating them back into your brain because you shouldn’t feel that way is a really wonderful way to cope with them.
You’re worried about your family’s future. That’s a perfectly valid thing to worry about. Everybody worries about that. And of course, pregnancy magnifies everything times four billion. I mean, if you think back a few weeks ago, there was still the chance that your husband might not find a job immediately after he graduates, but it wasn’t the all-consuming, intrusive fear it is now. Once your hormones settle down and you get more used to the idea of your pregnancy, this fear will likely re-claim its place on the back burner.
In the meantime, take care of yourself. Stop telling yourself to “stay positive! smile! yay!” if you don’t feel like it. I mean, I don’t want you to wallow in a puddle of fear and misery, but I just want you to lay off your poor beat-up, hormonal little emotions right now. Take baths. Eat ice cream and release some tension with a good cry over a dumb movie. (I use 13 Going On 30 for a nice happy cry, and when the big guns are required? Steel Magnolias. Oh my GAWD.)
And for the practical side, I highly recommend talking to a financial adviser about your debt repayment and savings plan. (If you have a 401(k) through work you can probably get help from that company, otherwise talk to friends and family for a recommendation.) Not only is this something I think EVERYBODY should do (my financial background is showing! heavens!), but you’ll feel like you’re doing something about this mountain of worry. It’s like writing something you’ve already done on a to-do list just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. Ah. Bliss.
And really, babies don’t need that much. Register for the essentials, accept hand-me-downs whenever you can, and don’t collapse into a blubbering heap of tears at Buy Buy Baby because your baby is totally going to die if you don’t buy the most expensive crib mattress with the extra 17 layers of flame retardation.
(Not that I know anyone who did that, ever.)
Things really do have a weird way of falling into place sometimes. And in May, when someone hands you that sweet little baby for the first time, you’ll think back to this letter and laugh, because you won’t even remember the woman who wrote it. Promise.

Visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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18 Responses to “Because Pregnancy Makes You Crazy, Period”

  1. Corinne Oct 13 at 8:28 am Reply Reply

    We went through the exact same thing. Only my husband had just graduated from college, and was having a hard time finding a job (the economy sucked, yo), so here we were, me pregnant, and him unemployed. Eventually, he did find a job, which moved us out of state and up to DC, where we knew absolutely NO one. We were in debt, alone, and having our first baby. Yes, it’s been hard, but Lordy, has it been worth it. You’ll make it.. I promise… even if at times you feel like your drowning in a sea of emotions or what not, you’ll find yourself stronger than you ever imagined… especially when you’re fighting to stay afloat for the little one you’re having.
    So hang in there… you’re not alone… and chin up :)

  2. Abigail Oct 13 at 9:16 am Reply Reply

    I agree, pregnancy made me crazy & anxious about soooo many things, I know it’s hard to be patient but Amalah is right, this too shall pass. I wanted to add, for money-saving tips, I don’t know if she can endorse this here on the website but I highly recommend the book “Baby Bargains”, they have a good system of ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’ of rating products and advising on price. While I didn’t always choose their recommended item, it really helped reading through all their evaluations and information. You can even look up particular products on a website they have for the book and see parents’ reviews as well. Also, if you are thinking about staying home with the baby, cloth diapers are an AMAZING way to save money. It may sound weird and archaic but there are some really great cloth diaper systems out there and they are not as much work as you would think, really. You can actually save thousands of dollars compared to disposables and if you have more kids you save even more by using them again. The baby bargains book also reviews diapers, and provides info and websites on cloth diapers as well as some good wholesale disposable sites. As for other baby gear, like Amalah said, you really don’t need a lot of stuff, a bed and a swing to start and then lots of secondhand/hand-me-down/yardsale clothes!

  3. lizzybelle Oct 13 at 9:33 am Reply Reply

    I am also pregnant and due in May. This is my second child, and OMG I think I worry SO much more this time, and about such different things. It’s just the nature of pregnancy. With our first child, who’s 2 1/2, my husband was in medical school – talk about student stress – and he was on call (at the hospital overnight) every fourth night for the first two months of our son’s life! This time, I don’t have those same student worries, but I worry much more about whether the baby will be healthy! The anxiety is totally inescapable. However, you will get through it. Trust in that, and also that even though you will still worry, that it won’t make any difference in the end. As hopeless as that sounds, it can also be very freeing. And people will give you GIFTS, so a lot of the baby gear won’t be your financial burden!! Yea for GIFTS!!!!

  4. Ms. Huis Herself Oct 13 at 11:38 am Reply Reply

    Welcome to the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy! It’s quite a ride, but I totally agree with Amalah about recognizing your feelings and realizing you do and will feel a huge range of emotions from paralyzing fear to dizzying joy to complete confusion.
    On the money-saving side, I have to say that second-hand stores and yard sales are a great source for both maternity clothes and baby stuff. Granted, not everything is in great shape, so don’t buy the crap – just look for the nice stuff. You’d be surprised how often things show up there new with tags – gifts given too small, or too big and then put away and forgotten about, or out of season once the right size – or just in wonderful condition because it was worn like twice before being outgrown.
    Good luck with it all!

  5. Lisa L. Oct 13 at 11:52 am Reply Reply

    When we were in the same situation, we got a book by Jane Bryant Quinn “making the most of your money”. We didn’t have enough $ to see a financial advisor and had no 401(k) or anything like that. It was our bible for a long, long time. I would also suggest seeing a therapist if your worries are affecting your relationships and job performance. Depression during pregnancy is just as common, if not more common, that post-partum depression. Both times in a life when society feels a woman should be overjoyed, can actually be grought with anxiety due to hormones and an general upturning of life. Add in job search and you’re talking about 2 of the biggest stressors you’ll ever deal with, besides death of a loved one. Lots of people are worriers by nature, and knowing you’ll be responsible for another human being greatly enhanced those worries. But when those worries start to affect your job and relationships, pregnant or not, one should speak to a health professional, a pastor, or a therapist and see if some counseling sessions are in order.
    Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and baby!
    Lisa L.

  6. LauraLou Oct 13 at 11:58 am Reply Reply

    Oh, thank you so much for posting this question and for your very reassuring answer. I’m six weeks pregnant and have been feeling so many of the same things as Allison. I’m in grad school right now and will be one class short of finishing my degree when the baby comes in June. How will we buy all the things we need on one income? What will we do if I can’t find a job? How on earth did I think I was ready for this? I don’t feel pregnant yet, just tired, overwhelmed, and like I’m going slightly crazy. It helps so much to be told that this is normal, that I will be okay, and that it will get better at some point. I will save this question and re-read it when I feel like I’m about to smother under the blanket of anxiety. Deep breaths, it will all be okay.

  7. iheartchuck Oct 13 at 12:32 pm Reply Reply

    If it helps at all to know that you are not alone in your feelings, then I will tell you that (and you can see from previous commenters) that you are not alone. We discussed and planned and planned and discussed having a baby for a long time–so you would think that I would be overjoyed to find out I was pregnant. I was totally the opposite. I was terrified, depressed, and so overcome with anxiety that I didn’t leave my house for 2 weeks…couldn’t eat or sleep. I was convinced that, despite our deep desire for a child, that it was the biggest mistake we had ever made in our lives. What were we thinking???!!! We couldn’t afford a baby…our lives were never going to be the same…I would never sleep again…and I completely doubted my ability to even be an adequate mother to a child. I even (and I feel so ashamed admitting this-have never told anyone) secretly hoped for a miscarriage. Thank god, THANK GOD, the pregnancy went very smoothly and I now have a nearly one year old beautiful amazing love of my life little girl.
    That is how crazy pregnancy makes you. Not that it is like that for everybody–but those hormones and life changing realizations will make you just a wee bit nuts. My OB said that some women respond to the hormonal changes by getting nauseous, some have mood changes (ie. anxiety/depression), and some lucky ones get both!
    Anyway, the point of my rambling is that your feelings are so completely normal–and they do get better.

  8. leahkay Oct 13 at 1:12 pm Reply Reply

    This is the stuff no one talks about. This is why I love the internets.

  9. heels Oct 13 at 1:14 pm Reply Reply

    And can we say NORMAL once again? Yes. Normal. But still painful.
    When I got pregnant, I had just started a new job (literally- the day before) and my husband was in the thick of a very intense Master’s program. He was making NO money (and accruing piles of debt) and I was making very little. Though we had been trying to get pregnant for 8 months before, we were a bit shocked (try kocked to the effing floor) when it actually happened, and we both were hit with immediate doubt and anxiety. Like stomach-churning, migrane inducing, staying up at night kind of anxiety.
    And then, all of the sudden, I realized: there is NEVER a really perfect time to have a baby. Sure, some times might be a little more convenient, but you will always have the stress and anxiety, no matter how much money you have or what situation you’re in. Somehow that made me feel a lot better.
    I started shopping around for baby stuff and realized that, as long as I didn’t succumb to all the dumb stuff advertisers made me feel like I would NEED (or my son would be retarded and a SERIAL KILLER!!!), that having a baby wasn’t going to be all that expensive, after all. Maybe we’d have to give up going out to dinner quite so often.
    After my son was born our priorities shifted so dramatically that we moved back to our hometown in California to be close to family, leaving grad school in the dust back in Pennsylvania. My husband, though he didn’t finish his program (in philosophy), now has a great job in IT. We’ve had to scrimp a bit, but we’re not really hurting (except my shoe buying- O! How it hurts to be wearing the same shoes I wore last year!!). It was good to worry, because it made us really look at what we were doing and appreciate its importance. But, after all of those sleepless nights, we’re fine. And deciding to have him is the best thing we’ve ever done.

  10. hanskey Oct 13 at 10:06 pm Reply Reply

    OH MY GOSH! I can’t believe Amalah answered my question!! Thanks so much to everybody for your answers and support. It honestly does make me feel better to hear that I’m not alone. I didn’t really think I was, but for the last couple of weeks I have felt that way. You’re all great, and I know that this too shall pass. I’ll keep my chin up, and take everybody’s advice (I can use all that I can get!!)

  11. Deborah Svoboda Oct 14 at 2:57 pm Reply Reply

    Amy, that was one of the best responses I’ve ever seen anyone give! Cheers for ice cream and the bathtub…cheap, effective therapy! Good for those frustrating days, too, because while you’re soaking you can fantasize holding the head of some nasty person who pissed you off under the water…letting them up…then back down..
    What, I’m the only one?
    Pregnancy will also clearly illustrate why the female of the species is the one who gives birth. I don’t know any guy who could handle it!

  12. CallistaWolf Oct 16 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    I look back to when I got pregnant with our first son, and I wonder why I wasn’t MORE worried than I was. I must have been oblivious because I was still in college, we were JUST married, I had no job, my husband had JUST started his, we had NO money and lived in an apartment and had awful debt… OMG. How did we do it?
    The answer? We just did. The baby came and it was all well and good and things took care of themselves. Like Amy said, you actually need very little with a baby and try not to worry (too much) about not having that super cool, super expensive stroller.

  13. mwas Oct 18 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    Ahhh, the dreaded hormones. They will make your head crazy – and if you think this is bad, wait till the baby comes and sleep deprivation hits.
    Take it one day at a time, one minute at a time if you have to. Practice the relaxation techniques Amalah suggests – particularly ice cream. Yum!
    The real reason I’m posting is to link to http://freecycle.org . “…a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. ”
    I’ve seen a TON of baby stuff come and go on our list.
    Wishing you all the best!

  14. Blythe Oct 19 at 4:17 am Reply Reply

    I’m still pregnant (28 weeks). Though we’d planned the pregnancy and though I’m over 35, it still felt like a shock. I was anxious and sad and weepy and calling my husband in the middle of the day to tell him that I just didn’t think I could become the mother I was supposed to be, and that I hated where we live, and that I would probably have a sad baby because I was so sad all the time. That happened at between 6-12 weeks for me. I was sure I would be freaked out for 40 weeks, maybe more.
    I’m writing to let you know that it did get better for me once the hormones slowed down. Also, that it doesn’t matter what causes it (hormones or financial worries or lack of chocolate in the house or whatever), it’s OK to feel what you feel. My husband, who continues to prove his worthiness on an hourly basis, just kept reminding me on my darkest days that tomorrow will be better. And he was right. Now, I’m still nervous and anxious and wondering what kind of parent I’ll be, but those feelings are balanced with the excitement and anticipation and all the things I hoped pregnancy would mean. That might not help you feel better right this minute, but maybe another “me too” will balance all those “aren’t you excited?!” comments you’re getting right now.
    Amy’s answer is on the money (ha! a financial reference!). When I was feeling terrible, this post helped me as well:
    http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2006/02/qa_depression_d.html (hope it’s OK to link to another advice blog?) Hang in there, Allison. (And try craigslist.org too. Awesome bargains to be had.)

  15. Jezer Oct 22 at 2:04 pm Reply Reply

    I realize that I’m a tad late to the party, but I couldn’t resist commenting. Amy, your advice is spot-on. Allison, what you are feeling is temporary, yet so, so very real and normal. At the same time, don’t ignore anything that feels too overwhelming or too hopeless. I sunk into such a deep depression when I was 8 weeks pregnant (Hello again, Clinical Depression and Anxiety Disorder! Meet your new best friend, Pregnancy Hormone Soup!) that I had to return to medication. But everything turned out fine.
    And it’s true–babies don’t need much. We bought the whole beautiful nursery get-up and guess where our son sleeps? At night, with us. During the day, on a pallet on the floor. Anywhere but that gorgeous, impeccably decorated crib.
    You will be OK. In fact, you’ll be great. And don’t feel bad for not enjoying pregnancy. It can be, and often is, a most heinous experience. Just try to relax and do what you need to do to feel prepared and calm.

  16. Michelle Potter Jul 14 at 5:19 pm Reply Reply

    Just so you know, this is not just the territory of new moms. I went through this with our 6th child. Before I got pregnant with her, I had baby fever, and for months all I could think about was getting pregnant again. Then, when I did, and once it had sunk in, I became convinced I’d made a huge mistake. I kept thinking that my then youngest child was “meant” to be the baby of the family, that we were “meant” to be a family of 5 children only, and that I had screwed up some important cosmic design. I felt so guilty, and there was nothing I could do.
    Fortunately pregnancy ends and the “haze” clears. I now have a beautiful 19 month old daughter who is herself about to become a big sister. I now feel silly about dreading her arrival, but at the time it was all a very real concern (of course, not made any easier by well-intentioned friends and relatives who already thought 6 kids was about 3 too many.)
    As far as money, you might want to research the myth of the two-income family. The widespread belief in our society that a family MUST have two incomes in order to survive is completely erroneous. Even if you plan to keep working, realizing how many families are making it on just one income should help you feel calmer that you can get by, too.

  17. loulou22 Oct 18 at 9:28 am Reply Reply

    Hi there…I am now 7 weeks pregnant and totally out of control with anxiety and disbelief about being pregnant. I have a 9yr old and has some anxiety with her but this is far worse. Soooo many worries….please help!

  18. Sandy34 Nov 29 at 3:18 pm Reply Reply

    Well, it is truly helpful to read everyone’s posts…especially the ones regarding “what have I gotten myself into…I though I wanted this”. The fear can be debilitating at times about the life changes that we are about to embark on and the constant sickness and need to eat makes matters far worse. To know that other women experience this is comforting. I swear my friends that have had children already are flat out lying that pregnancy was “magical” and they really do experience amnesia regarding how they felt physically. It seems that everyone I know has not had morning sickness and I am the only one…and I am in my 12th week and very frightened that it won’t go away. I tell myself everyday that I will absolutely not do this again and I don’t care how much I want to have another child…why? Biology is a cruel thing and I am hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. The anxiety can be bad but my advice to loulou22 is to make sure to get outside and get fresh air and a little exercise every day (which I have not been able to do but when I do I feel so much better) and surround yourself with distractions and loving people. I think the anxiety lessens or maybe just changes…just what others have shared with me:) Good luck to you…

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