Because Pregnancy Makes You Crazy, Period
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,
Is All This Worrying Normal? Yes, Absolutely
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 addle-pated 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.
How to Manage the Anxiety
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.
Published October 12, 2006. Last updated November 10, 2017.
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