Lately, I’ve been having some anxiety.
And just so I’m clear, right up-front…this isn’t a call for help. I support woman to live confident lives and frankly, we can’t be confident if we can’t talk about how we really feel.
My anxiety boils down to where I’m at with this third baby situation. Overall, here’s what I’m struggling with:
One of the biggest disadvantages of small town living is that we don’t have a full service hospital. Now, don’t get me wrong, ours is good for where we live, but they stopped delivering babies right after I had my oldest. We doctor 85 miles away. If my water were to break at home, there’s a chance I will not make it to the hospital. My own doctor believes that based on how quickly I delivered my second. Now, there’s the option to head straight to the ER where I live, but I was visiting with a doctor from there yesterday, and she said, “No, get in the car and get as close to your hospital as you can.”
At my 38 week appointment yesterday, my own doctor said, “No. Stick with your plan. If your water breaks, get on the road.”
I mean, really?!? Holy shit. She went into all the things they are likely unprepared to do, like resuscitate a baby if necessary. She even said that immediate post-natal care for infants changes all the time and that nothing scares an ER staff more than a pregnant lady. Give them a lopped off limb and they’re good with it. Gushing amniotic fluid and a crowning head? Not so much.
I’m been plagued with dreams of delivering in the back of our car on the interstate. I can say that my husband will be a rockstar in the event this occurs. He’s rational and level-headed so he’ll be calming for me, but if it gets right down to it and he has to zip-tie the umbilical cord because I just popped out a kid (and yes, that’s actually his preferred product…you know over buying some string or something that sounds less farmer-like), I’m not sure what he’ll think. He may never look at me the same again.
My Support System
This is hands-down, unequivocally, the WORST time of year for me to have a baby. Most people already know this. It’s not news.
But this past week, I’ve been doing what I can to help my mom get ready for her seasonal pumpkin patch business. I have had a pretty consistent pit in my stomach since. It’s not like I’m the world’s greatest help to her, but I know what’s going on. We’re a team and even though she does more than 90% of the work to prepare, I feel like we’ve always been close to equals when the season actually hits. I’m good with people and managing the business part of it for her. Now, she’s relying on a lot of other people to make it happen and I’m just struggling.
Now for the quick pity party…at least we can backfill the schedule with other people for her. What about me and this new baby? My husband will be in the field and for the first full month, my mom will be completely indisposed.
There are a lot of people who will help me. I just have to reach out. But, I’m not good at that. I’m certainly going to have to get good at asking if I want to get through it.
The last area of stress overall just relates to how this baby will change our lives. We’ve got a pretty good thing going in our household right now and the idea of going back to no schedule and no sleep is seriously tripping me out.
Obviously, I’m getting closer to having this baby, so everyone wants to know if I’m excited. I hesitate nearly every time I’m asked. I mean, sure I am. But, I like order. And babies are chaos. What can I say? And this is one of those areas where you have to tread lightly. People don’t want to hear that you’re not 100% stoked. They want me to beam with pride and glow with anticipation. That glow is sweat. Anxiety-induced sweat.
Clearly, there are lessons hidden, and more often buried, in everything that happens in our lives.
In case you’ve forgotten, I do confess to be somewhat of a control freak, so not having a lot of influence over a situation is a difficult place for me to spend time. I guess you could say I’m outside my comfort zone. And I know that when I’m there, I’m being challenged to grow.
Maybe I’m tired of growing at this point. (I am physically, that’s for sure.)
At the end of the day, I know that I am loved by a God that believes I’m capable of handling all of this. He also is not-so-gently reminding me that I never was nor will I ever be, in control.
So, here’s how I’m actually coping and if you’re finding yourself in an ‘out-of-your-control’ situation in your life, I hope these ideas will help.
All of these strategies come straight from Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. His techniques can be applied to business or personal life and I use them religiously.
Live in ‘day-tight’ compartments
I basically only try to think about what’s right in front of me. At this juncture, all my stress lies ahead, it’s not so much about the past, but focusing on either robs you of today. It robs today of its beauty, fun and energy. You can’t be good at what you’re doing today if you’re fretting over past mistakes or thinking incessantly about what’s to come.
Use the following 3 step process:
Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?”
Prepare to accept the worst.
Try to improve on the worst
This is a great technique. I’ve actually sat down and thought through this with each of the areas I’m struggling in. With delivery, the ultimate worst that could happen is that my baby or I wouldn’t live.
Now truly, there’s no reason to believe that will happen nor can I really accept it (at least right now), so barring that, the worst that could happen is that we wouldn’t make it to the hospital. I have accepted that as a possibility. And, we’ve got a decent contingency plan in place to cope. (And really…it would make for one hell of a story for you read about later, wouldn’t it?)
With the post-baby fears, the worst that could happen is that I’d have a very sick or colicky baby. This is a potential reality all new moms have to accept. The only way I can improve on this situation is to remember that my #1 job as the mother of a newborn is that baby. Yes, I have two other kids, but I’ll have to get good at offloading them to friends and other family if my baby is really struggling. It will be quite the ride, but we really are so loved and we’ll figure it all out.
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries
This is another useful and rational principle. Basically, there are many ways that labor can start. While the chances are decent that my water could break at home, how likely is it that we won’t make it to the hospital? (There are not THAT many stories of women delivering babies on the side of the road.) The point of this principle is that we tend to get really focused on that worst case scenario, which is usually one of the unlikeliest outcomes. We end up exerting a lot of energy worrying and fretting about things that are likely to never pass.
It’s also a solid reminder that our thoughts carry energy. Thinking about only the worst case scenario all the time creates a whirlwind of negativity. Changing our thoughts to productive, positive thoughts is a challenge, but one worth pursuing.
Yep. Mr. Carnegie has this in his timeless book. It’s one of the pillars of my sanity at this point. God brought me to this place and He’ll carry me through it. (Oh and I know that I can’t put this all on God. I know how babies are made. A fun night away in Fargo is all it took and while it wasn’t planned or on my radar at all, it happened because we let it.)
Through prayer, I also ask to be reminded of the incredible blessings babies bring. The truth is, I’ve never been a good ‘newborn’ mom. I love it when they get to about 4 months. Rock throwing can commence at any time.
I seriously just never did that well with infants and don’t even start me on the topic of nursing. (I’m sure I’ll share the full scope of this once we’re in the throes again, but needless to say, it’s not pretty.)
So, I’m praying for strength. I’m praying for support. I’m praying for peace. I’m praying for confidence. I’m praying.
In the end, this will all be as it’s meant to be. I just have to roll with it. The other side contains blessings and further lessons that at this point, I can’t even comprehend.