Pregnancy panic: The fears women had before they became moms
In places like the Middle East where maternity leave is often limited, it’s understandable for moms to worry
I’ve always been an anxious person.
More than the obvious - starting new jobs or moving abroad - I worry if my neighbor didn’t see me wave hello or the cleaner is upset because I had no choice but to walk over his mopped floor to get to the office. Many people have told me I’m a worrier and I need to relax more.
So having a baby was an enormous thing for me.
While I realize most of us spend some of those nine pregnant months contemplating how we’re going to handle labor pain and sleepless nights, I seriously questioned if I was fit for my new role.
I panicked that my brain full of fuzz would fail me and I’d end up forgetting my new bundle of joy, leaving her in the supermarket for hours. I worried that I was a bad driver and couldn’t be trusted with a VIP on board. I panicked that I hadn’t bought cupboards full of toys like many of my other pregnant friends. That I hadn’t started taking folic acid tablets early enough. That I had a cat – who was really shy and soft and would always be kept away from my baby - but still, I worried.
So I read Brittany Noonan’s story with great interest.
The mum, who lives in Australia, recently shared her account of overcoming anxiety, depression and an eating disorder while pregnant.
Explaining how she went to see her psychologist the day after discovering she was pregnant to say she wanted to be a mum but wasn’t sure she could give birth, she said she felt ‘scared’.
At 27, Brittany has suffered with anxiety and depression since being 18 years old and after developing Hyperemesis Gravidarum early on in her pregnancy, which made her violently sick, eating disorders once again raised their head.
It was only after delivering her baby that Brittany was finally able to wave goodbye to her issues.
On her blog, The Fashionable Fit Mum, she explains how, towards the end of her pregnancy, she realized she needed to change to make sure her daughter never felt the way she did about her body.
She made it her goal every day to change her mind and ‘after nine months of hell’, she learned to appreciate her body and what it had achieved.
Her tale made me wonder about other mums and their fears.
It seems we all had them. In fact, many still do.
Noor Hiassat says: “I remember thinking to myself, what if my baby doesn't love me? What if I don't know how to soothe him and he ends up hating me? What if he keeps calm with everyone else but me? I was so worried about not being good enough!”
Admitting she’s realized you don’t need to be so fearful, Noor adds: “Twelve years later I’ve found out that kids love you no matter what. Even if sometimes you turn into Godzilla they still find excuses for you in their sweet little hearts.”
Rasha Zahr-Moughabat says she’s learned to accept that being fearful is completely normal.
She says: “I was worried I’d not be able to understand my baby's mood when he's cranky, or I’d not have enough patience for him or wouldn’t understand what he wants when he cries or be able to provide him things that he wants and needs. After 10 months I think I'm understanding him by following my instinct. The fear will always be there but eventually things will happen the way they should be done.”
Sara Ali says her concerns centered on bonding: “My fear was that my baby would call my mother in law Mama, not me, and be more attached to her than myself as I went back to work when my daughter was five months old,” she says.
“She is 15 months now and I am her number one even though she spends most of the day with her grandma. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
In places like the Middle East where maternity leave is often limited, it’s understandable for moms to worry that they won’t have time to bond with their children.
But for Heger, who was spending her days surrounded by sick people, her fears were far less rational.
She says: “As I was working in a hospital, my big fear was that my babies may have some health problems or congenital disease. I was haunted by this idea so before even conceiving I would cry for days just imagining having a baby with health problems.
“When I was pregnant, at any pain or new sensation I hurried to the doctor. For the first year of my eldest girl’s life I was too scared about her health and I took her maybe every two weeks to the doctor for any problem. I regret it very much as now she is childish and can’t stand any pain.”
Try not to get too anxious advises Yoan Latuasan. As a mum to three children under five years old she has realized that while you may panic, generally things turn out for the best.
She says: “My first fear was what if they stopped breathing while sleeping. I’d keep on checking on their breathing. And then when they grew bigger my fear was about doing things wrong for them, not feeding them nutritious food. Then it was all about how they will hate me because I'm yelling too much or not be able to give my full attention to all three of them. It all vanished into thin air once I realized that what they want is my love and attention and one on one time for each of them. Whatever I do, for them I am still perfect, still their everything and I am enough.”