My anxiety has been in overdrive today. Like, warp speed overdrive. To the point that it’s hard to focus on anything else.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I worked with my doctor to wean off my depression/anxiety medication. I know, I know, there are medications that can be safely taken in pregnancy, but if you’ll remember, in the beginning I wanted to be as crunchy/natural as possible (LOLOLOL looking back now at the pitocin/epidural delivery, I could just punch me right in the gullet). Anyway, I haven’t had any meds since May 2019, and it has generally been an okay experience. I occasionally find myself overwhelmed with the weighted blanket of panic sometimes — once, it became bad enough that I had my phone in hand, ready to call my OB’s office and ask that she start filling my prescription again — but for the most part, I’ve done alright. It hasn’t been too much.
Here in the last forty-eight or so hours, though? It’s been rough.
Currently, I know my anxiety is situation-specific, which gives me some hope moving forward.
(like every mom out there right now) … I’m scared that Scout will get sick.
That’s the trigger, the ultimate cause. I know I’m relatively okay because I can pinpoint a “why” … whereas previously, I was scared and panicked, but had no idea if there was a cause. Generalized anxiety is a pain in the ass, and usually, the walls would close in and suffocate me for no identifiable reason.
Now, though? It’s all about the kid. And I know that.
Our governor never issued a mask mandate or a shelter in place order. So people didn’t. That’s why, if you watch the national news, Northwest Arkansas is trending upward in a huge way. Even so, people have been deciding to have their weddings, so Dale douses himself in Clorox and heads out into the world. He wears his mask, he distances as best as he can, he santizes his hands … but people at weddings aren’t always wearing masks.
Scout has been fussy for the last two days. In my heart, in my brain even, I know she’s teething. I can (barely) spot a little white bud on her bottom gums. She’s drooling a river, she’s chewing on everything, she’s shaking her head back and forth … like, I know it’s teething.
I’ve managed to convince myself, though, that through my trips to grocery shop and Dale’s wedding parties, that I’ve passed COVID to her. That it’s much more serious than it is.
It’s like the new mom worry and guilt on pandemic speed. I worry for her so much that usually, when my heavy head hits the pillow and I say my prayers, which have become increasingly more succinct in my exhaustion, my prayers is reduced to one thing —
“Please keep her safe.”
“Please, please keep her safe.”
And then I worry that something happens to me. But not because of the actual thing that might happen to me (prolonged illness, death, etc.), but because what will my exclusively breastfed baby do if something happens to me? Thinking of how she would struggle hurts me deep in my chest. She would be in the very capable, loving hands of my husband, but the great paradox of motherhood is that even though you feel like a failure every single day, you still don’t think anyone else can care for your baby as well as you can.
I worry that she’ll be sick. That she’ll be injured. Kidnapped, killed. I worry about SIDS, about cancer. I worry that I’ll fall down the stairs while carrying her. I worry about car accidents, boat accidents. I worry about drowning, about open flames, about my diet. I worry about school shootings and police brutality. I worry for her future struggles, about alcohol and sexual assault. Is this much independent play good, should I focus more attention on her (hahahaha), will this glass of wine hurt her, will the volume of the sound machine harm her hearing, should I be feeding her more or less baby food, should I make it or buy it, “is there too much sugar in this??,” is this spoon BPA free, what is that red blotch on her hip, is her poop a different color, is she talking enough, “does she feel warm to you?”
The proverbial “they” warn you that having a kid changes the way you love, but holy shit, I wasn’t expecting this. No wonder I can only get out a few sentences of prayer nowadays … I’ve worried myself into an exhausted stupor.
My biggest fear, though? That something will happen to her, but I’ll survive. That I’ll spend every day of my life missing her and wondering if I could have avoided the catastrophic.
I know that I’m not supposed to be fear-stricken into paralysis, but I sometimes feel like I am. Or maybe I’m stir-crazy with the cabin fever. Like I’ve said previously, Scout was born during flu season, so I basically haven’t left the house since 2019. I want to leave, but can’t. When I do leave, I’m anxious to get back.
You know, when you were two years old, we thought you had polio. You know about that? …Yeah, well, for a week, we didn’t know. l hated you for that. l did. I did, l hated having to go through that — the caring, the worrying, the pain. That’s not for me. And you know, it’s not like that all ends when you’re 18 or 21 or 41 or 61. lt never, never ends . . . there is no endzone. You never cross the goal line, spike the ball, and do your touchdown dance. Never. l’m 64. Larry’s 27. And he’s still my son.
I’ve accepted it, but acceptance doesn’t necessarily make it easier. It just is. It is something with which I have to come to terms, and I will, but now is a hard time for change when everything is different.
Everyone talks about a “new normal.” There’s some degree of comfort in knowing that everyone is facing the same new struggles in adapting to a new life. But new moms? There is literally nothing in our lives that is recognizable, except for the walls of our homes. My new normal feels completely foreign, and I’m slowly parsing out how to do it (semi-)successfully.
Here’s to positive thinking.