Anxiety & Pregnancy: How Do I Really Feel?

Guilty. The answer is, surprisingly: guilty. At least, that’s the answer I have for you at this moment.

Happy. That’s the answer most of the time. I am so happy. I am so happy that I could cry with gratitude. And I have.

Relieved. I am so relieved that this is a time of respite. No turmoil. Just calm and love.

I don’t know why. I don’t know how. But my anxiety baseline plummeted when I became pregnant. I’m not talking about zero. I’m not even talking about person-with-no-anxiety-disorder levels. After all, I’m still anxious about taking the baby I nanny for a walk. (I have no idea why. It’s not rational.) And I have no excuse for not showering even every other day. (Just be grateful I don’t have strong body odor and move on. It’s not rational.)

But I’m not afraid of laundry.

I’m not afraid of leaving the house on time for work or appointments.

I’m not afraid of doctors, not even my psychiatrist.

I’m not afraid of my meds.

I’m not afraid of cooking.

I’m not afraid of doing dishes.

I’m not afraid of cleaning.

I am excited about my upcoming project of putting my regular person clothing in Rubbermaid tubs and clearing out my fabulous Ikea wardrobe for just maternity wear.

I’m excited about organizing our things while we move.

I’m excited to move into the bigger, nicer apartment across the hall.

I’m not afraid of money. I can look at the bank accounts, the bills, the upcoming bills, and no matter what, my heart rate doesn’t even rise.

I’m not afraid to go to therapy or to cancel when I feel sick.

I’m not afraid to rest when I’m sick or just plain need to rest.

If you had given me this list just a year ago, maybe even just this January, I would have said, “That’s not me. It will never be me.” The doctors told me that there’s always a chance that hormones during pregnancy can help you feel happy, not make you anxious or cranky. My mother and sister were both pretty serene pregnant women. But then, they don’t deal with the kind of anxiety I’ve faced, so that always made sense to me. I couldn’t take their experience as a predictor of my own. I prepared for the worst. I braced myself. I warned my husband to brace himself. And then, the test turned positive…

Since then, the world has just settled into place. It has stopped spinning or tilting at random. I literally smell flowers and the rain more intensely (that’s a pregnancy symptom–a super sense of smell). I haven’t felt panic in, oh, about 14 weeks. I know that I still need the medication–if I forget a dose, the anxiety creeps back up. But I am serene in my knowledge that I have made the best choices I could make for me and for my family.

And now, I feel guilty. All that preparation, this entire blog, and I turn out to be the poster child for a happy pregnancy? Ok, not quite the poster child (there are those meds, after all). But seriously, I am happier pregnant than I was before. I am happy. What about all the women I’ve found through this blog who relate to me? Will you still relate to me if my moods remain even? Will you resent me for reacting so well to pregnancy, which has been such a scary experience for some of you? I resent me for reacting so well to something that, according to… who? that’s a good question… according to someone, was supposed to make me an emotional wreck and unpredictable hormonal nightmare.

I was afraid that I would run out of things to write about. I’m glad that I haven’t. I am so glad that I have been given this reprieve. I thank God every day. I do not take this drop in anxiety for granted, not even for a minute. Maybe it will give the book I want to write the kind of happy ending readers love. But who am I without my excuses? Without my disorders? It’s really pretty exciting to find out. Go ahead, strip them from me. I’ll find a new identity. Happily. I still have a strong voice. I am still me. And that is just… weird. It’s completely bizarre. I don’t understand it.

But that’s the thing about gifts from God: I don’t need to understand. I take them and say, “Thank You.”

Bug, at 14 weeks, you are apparently the size of a lemon. But you are sweet as pie! Thank you for all the sweetness you bring to my life, every day.

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Comments

  1. Abby says

    If you are never anxious a day more of your life, your insights would still be valuable to those of us who suffer from anxiety. I am grateful for your candid posts which help me to negotiate my own anxiety. I’m happy you’re happy!

    • says

      This is so very sweet. Thank you, Abby. And I’m still perfectly comfortable being candid about everything around mental health and pregnancy. You can bet that for every new study that comes out, I will write a post about the study and probably another about how the media are jerks for writing stupid headlines about it!

  2. says

    Unlike you, my anxiety got worse with pregnancy (however, I do seem to have respite between 12 and 30 weeks, and then it increases again). That said, I feel like I still relate to you, because you probably “get me.” And there are so few people in my life I feel comfortable talking to about these things, so it helps for me to chat about it with the (somewhat) bit of anonymity I have on social media…I’ve never even made it public knowledge that I suffer from anxiety/depression! So thank you, thank you. I will still read this blog, and I’m feeling so happy for you that you have found some happiness in this pregnancy.

    • says

      Apparently, it’s something like 50/50. The anxiety gets better or it gets worse! Wait and see! Because *that’s* always what a woman with anxiety wants to hear.

      Re: making things public–it is not easy. I found myself “outed” during/after an extremely public breakdown in college, so I feel that because my entire family and all my friends already know, I have a special “out.” It lets me blog without worrying that I’ll have to explain things to anyone. I was scared to tell my husband’s family at first, but I don’t think they even blinked!

      I do still worry that my employers will google me and go “Wait a minute, we hired *this* woman to care for our child?!” But hey, at least they’ll also find out that I’m taking good care of myself…

  3. Stacey Stump says

    I’m so happy I found your blog and you’re handling your anxiety well in pregnancy.  I’m not pregnant yet but I’m worried about what will happen to my anxiety when that day comes.

    • says

      As I said to Misty, the “wait and see” thing sucks. And it’s all we have. Ugh. Pop another Xanax? (anxiety patient joke–don’t really!)

  4. Casey says

    I was the same way when I was pregnant.  And I’ve suffered with bad anxiety most of my life.  Pregnancy did wonders for my moods.  It was wonderful, and I’m glad you get to experience it.

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