Collin County Moms is thrilled to present “Honest Moms,” a series on authentic, vulnerable looks at motherhood and life in general: the good, the bad, and the ugly—what we love, what we struggle with, and what we are working through—all as a way to connect with YOU. We want to know what you’re going through, what encourages you, what helps in the times of confusion, chaos, and solitude. We are all in this together, and our community is a strong one that seeks to lift others up.
I may never forget the words that opened my eyes to what I’d been ignoring for over two years. I was chatting with my best friend, rehashing an argument I’d had with my husband about our two-year-old son.
“I have to be honest with you…” she said, hesitating. “That’s not normal.”
“I know,” I said. “He’s so oblivious!” Obviously she was confirming that my husband was not normal for not being worried about the long-term impact of our son skipping his nap at daycare.
See, my son happens to have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out). If there’s any activity, noise, light, or people in the room, he needs to be a part of it. He doesn’t succumb to the overwhelming need for sleep, like some kids do. So, daycare naps are a challenge for him. He often sleeps 30 minutes, if at all…and we pay the price for it later with a cranky, overtired toddler. The result is that I check his daycare app for updates, constantly. I check to see how much he’s eaten, if he’s been participating in the activities, if he looks happy in the photos. And most of all, I wait for the nap update.
If we haven’t gotten a new photo or update in a few hours, I get antsy. Sometimes I call the daycare center to check in, but sometimes I just text my husband to gripe about it, and get the panic out of my system. He indulges me most of the time, but occasionally, if I catch him at a busy moment at work, he’s…less than understanding of my crazy.
But it’s not crazy…every mom worries about their kids when they’re under someone else’s care, right?
Apparently not. Because my friend’s response to this tirade was: “No, you…that’s not normal.”
It wasn’t harsh, or judgmental, or mocking. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
Because my days were FILLED with these little worries, worries that I knew were insignificant in the big picture, that I knew didn’t bother my husband, or my mom, or our pediatrician. But I still thought they were normal, just par for the course in being a mom, the burden we bear.
I still think that’s true, to an extent. Where it became a problem for me is that these little worries—the what-ifs—plagued me, all day, every day.
What if he doesn’t sleep? What if he doesn’t eat enough? What if he has the flu? What if he gets stung by a bee? What if he’s allergic to bees? Should I have dressed him in long sleeves, just in case? What if I dressed him too warm and he overheats? What if the heater malfunctions while we’re asleep and his bedroom overheats? What if a car crashes through the front of our house and into his bedroom?
You can see how this new mom anxiety gets out of hand quickly. Typing out these questions on the screen in front of me, I can see how ridiculous they sound. But they didn’t feel ridiculous as they flooded my brain and prevented me from thinking about anything else.
So finally, I spoke up to my husband. He knew I was neurotic; I always have been. But I hadn’t really voiced to him how much I worried, how I barely slept, how I could actually see the worst-case scenario playing out like a movie in my head, in every single situation, no matter how benign it was in reality. It was hard to say out loud, but the more I talked about it, the more obvious it was that this level of worry was a problem, and how apparent it became that this was abnormal.
Then I spoke up to my OB/GYN, since I was pregnant at the time. She helped me cope throughout the remainder of my pregnancy, and as soon as I had my baby, she got me started on a medication. (For the record, there are anti-anxiety medications you can take while pregnant—it just wasn’t right for me and my pregnancy, so we held off as long as I could handle it.)
We’re still working on finding the exact right prescription for me, but I can say, without a doubt, that it’s getting better. Even just talking about it has helped tremendously. So if you’re struggling with new mom anxiety (or any anxiety), too, please speak up…to your best friend, your spouse, your doctor—heck, email me, if you want to! I promise you’re not alone, and you don’t always have to feel this way.
Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.