OVERWHELMED & PREGNANT

MOTHERHOOD, PREGNANCY, BIRTH & BABY'S

In this list, the writer, who wishes to remain anonymous, talks about a side of pregnancy we don’t often hear about. It’s always expected that people should feel happy, grateful and excited, but what happens if that’s not the case?

As this writer explains, she found herself floored with anxiety, scared and wondering how on earth she was going to care for a baby that would change her life so completely and permanently.

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[A note on staying anonymous] I’ve chosen to stay anonymous with my story. Vulnerability is powerful. And yet vulnerability is most appropriate when the person sharing is no longer in the experience. I’m currently still in the experience of feeling overwhelmed (a moment that likely won’t pass for a while) and so I want to give myself grace and likely not handle more questions than I’m already getting about being pregnant. I want other women to know it’s okay (& normal) to feel the way I’m feeling, and yet don’t want to add any extra stress to my current situation. I feel that I can choose to support both myself & whoever resonates with this story by simply holding my name back. Thank you for supporting me in this choice!

 

  • Oh, the casual Sunday roast that turns into a few bottles (each) of Vino Verde.

  • You know the one, the one where you leave the pub feeling all of the feels. No Sunday blues, only good vibes. The best of London living.

  • On the 14th of November, I came back from this blissful setup and had to pee. Again, casual. Something we do many times a day without thinking. No biggie.

  • As I was about to sit down on the toilet, the thought crossed my mind – my period is late.

  • I had a quick bit of spotting, so I figured I should be fine, but I thought – before I get another glass of wine, I should just double check.

  • There was a chance, after all. We hadn’t been completely careful last month.

  • As fate would have it, I had a spare pregnancy test under the sink. Slightly tipsy, I manage to pee on the stick.

  • I head to the kitchen with the pregnancy test, and stick my nose into the fridge.

  • Again, casually, my eyes finally glance down to the counter where the pregnancy test was resting.

  • PREGNANT.

  • I thought to myself … where is the “not”?! It’s missing!

  • I’ve taken my fair share of pregnancy tests, and every time it came back NOT PREGNANT. And yes this time, PREGNANT. This big bold letters staring at me right in the face. As Fergie would say, P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T.

  • My world went blurry. While we were a little less than careful, I was out of my ovulation window. How did this happen? I shout to my partner down the house – come here!!!

  • All I could think in this moment was “Oh shit”. We’d been discussing trying for a kid in the new year, and yet here I was – without any time to prepare myself mentally – very much so pregnant before the new year had arrived.

  • Of course (as my partner is a complete gem) he says all the right things. And being a twin himself he proceeds to say “maybe it’s twins!”. ADDS TO THE SPIRALLING

  • As fate would have it, my best friend was 9 weeks pregnant (we’ll come to find that is 5 weeks ahead of me).

  • I know you’re not supposed to tell anyone right away, but being hit with the fundamental body shock & panic of having a tiny baby in my belly – I obviously call her.

  • I say “guess what news I have”. She has no idea – guesses I’m moving home (I’m not). So I hold up the pregnancy test. She says “holy shit”.

  • A girl on my level. All of the “shits” getting tossed into the universe on the 14th of November.

  • I’m unable to really say much. I find myself asking her “how accurate are positive pregnancy tests” of all things.

  • Very, she says. Damn.

  • I am a 32 year old woman, in a stable and happy relationship, with financial freedom and a rewarding & flexible job.

  • I should be happy, ready, excited, grateful. And while I do indeed feel like this is such a miracle – I know how many people struggle to get pregnant and here I am getting pregnant largely by accident & on the first try – I feel scared AF, not ready at all, anxious & completely overwhelmed.

  • I’m a coach. I get to tell people that the phrase “I should” is the death of our happiness on a regular basis. And yet here I am 100% in the throws of the “I should”s.

  • I should be ready.

  • I should be happy.

  • I should be excited.

  • I should be grateful.

  • Everyone I know who gets pregnant is ecstatic. Or at least excited. And here I am, very much so not ready to be in that camp.

  • I see an amazing future for my partner and I. I see us raising an amazing family in the future. I am confident we will live a long life together in the years to come.

  • The key thing here being THE FUTURE and THE YEARS TO COME. These things are something future me knows are going to happen, and yet here we are – current me is faced with the reality of them.

  • You learn a lot of things about pregnancy and having a kid. That it takes 9 months, that you get some ultrasounds, that you need a pram, a crib & nappies. But there’s this one really big thing they don’t mention about having a child.

  • While it takes 9 months to be able to birth a child, your world fundamentally changes the moment you find out you’re pregnant.

  • Moment one you find out you need to avoid raw meat, certain eggs, exercise regularly (but not too vigorously), avoid caffeine, obviously don’t drink alcohol… the list goes on and on and on. There are thousands of things to consider.

  • I pride myself on my way of mindful, slow & intentional living. My nervous system is strong & my practices to support it run deep.

  • And yet here I was – my nervous system completely on the fritz.

  • 1000% overloaded.

  • It felt as if someone was sitting on my chest.

  • Constant pressure.

  • This anxiety knocked me for six.

  • When the sensation would hit, I felt paralysed. I’d lie down on the sofa and wouldn’t be able to get up for 4+ hours.

  • Eating was out of the question.

  • Going pee was de-prioritised (and pregnant woman have to pee, a lot).

  • The lovely twist here, is that this only added to my guilt, overwhelm & fear. The list of considerations that are inserted into your brain after you find out you’re pregnant is only exacerbated when you’re so anxious you cannot move.

  • I tried Reiki, breathing techniques, yoga poses, and more while frozen on my bed. And while it gave me momentary relief, a few minutes after I stopped the feeling was back. I knew this wasn’t helpful – but I literally couldn’t get out of bed.

  • The interesting thing about this feeling was that there were no thoughts to go with it. It was just an overwhelming sensation of anxiety, void of emotions or thoughts.

  • Again, as I’m a coach I understand psychology, human behaviour and how to coax out the root of people’s anxiety a bit more than the average person.

  • I know that every sensation has associated thoughts and feelings, even if they aren’t immediately apparent.

  • I work with these theories and techniques on a daily basis.

  • And yet here I was, completely unable to access these thoughts within myself.

  • I had no way of getting to know the emotions that were causing this intense physical anxiety.

  • After too many days of suffering (all the while hosting my parents in from out of town) I decided to call in the big guns – aka my old therapist.

  • I emailed her on the 4th of December, and bless her she emailed me back the next day. And we booked in a session for the day following.

  • She’s a kind lady, and she knows I’m a very self aware & reflective individual. She gently supported me through the session, poking and prodding at the story and how I chose to tell it (I know you know that we always give our therapist / coaches / bosses / mentors a narrative 😜 ).

  • And in the session, we came to the conclusion that I needed to tell people how I was feeling. I was only 6.5 weeks pregnant, so it was fairly early to be spreading the word. But I felt alone in my thoughts & feelings, so I needed to reach out to my friends & family for support. She was right. I did need to tell people, and I committed to doing so.

  • I was feeling a bit better after our session so I went for a walk.

  • I integrate my learnings on walks.

  • And then, the penny dropped.

  • I was lying to her – and to myself.

  • This wasn’t about feeling supported.

  • This was about how I felt about being pregnant.

  • That I felt fundamentally not ready, not capable.

  • I was barely able to handle my parents staying in my flat for a week and they cooked, cleaned & dealt with my fairly domineering personality (having learned how to best interact with me after 32 years of knowing it).

  • If I couldn’t handle my self sufficient parents for a week…. HOW IN THE WORLD COULD I RAISE A BABY FOR YEARS?

  • On top of that, I am a person who values my space to an obscene degree.

  • I love the quiet cocoon of my flat.

  • I love my time and space to learn.

  • I love my longs walks to ponder life.

  • These are the things that keep me grounded, happy and thriving.

  • HOW IN THE WORLD WILL I HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO DO THESE WITH A BABY?

  • And of course, the permanence.

  • I bought my flat in August 2020 after living in 12 flats over the 10 years prior.

  • This girl is not into commitment.

  • I was quite proud of myself for doing so, and then about 2 months later I thought “maybe it’s time for me to leave London”….lol.

  • I’m still here, and I have a dog, and my partner lives with me… so we’re making progress, but I am very much so a commitment-phobe in recovery.

  • Not only is a baby VERY permanent, but the relationship I am in is now forever.

  • Something I assumed would always be the case, but we aren’t married so in 1 moment I jumped from dating past engaged past married to parents of a child that will outlive the both of us.

  • HOW DOES ONE EVEN BEGIN TO COMPREHEND THAT TYPE OF COMMITMENT?

  • And yet as my mind nearly exploded in front of the Sainsbury’s that was walking past as I had these realisations, I had another thought.

  • I fundamentally believe the universe only gives us what we are ready to handle.

  • And taking that one step further, I was born for this.

  • Like actually.

  • As women, we are born to procreate.

  • To bear children.

  • To care for another.

  • To commit ourselves to them indefinitely.

  • To have the energy & patience to allow them to grow into a beautiful human being.

  • And yet alongside this, I am as human as it gets.

  • I’m allowed to feel the way I’m feeling.

  • I’m allowed to be scared shitless at the idea of this responsibility that I did not prepare myself for.

  • I’m allowed to feel ungrounded as the universe once again teaches me the lesson that I don’t really have any control (even though we love to think we do).

  • I’m allowed to let overwhelm seep into my bones.

  • It’s there to teach me something.

  • It’s there to teach me the importance of what’s to come.

  • And maybe it showed up so powerfully so as to guide me to not hide my feelings, but instead to share them.

  • The humanness of this experience is humbling, beautiful & absolutely insane.

  • My view on the remaining 7 months of my pregnancy is that I should listen to my body, my feelings & my needs.

  • I should share my truth.

  • I should give myself grace.

  • And with time, I hope to see myself evolve into the stunning, beautiful, caring, nurturing, powerful & transformative mother I know I was born to be.

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HELPFUL RESOURCES:

NHS: nhs.uk/pregnancy

Mind – anxiety and panic attacks: mind.org.uk

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FANCY SOME MORE?

–  Read Kate Tweed’s list Becoming A Mum Triggered My Anxiety as she explains how, after finding out she was pregnant, she felt overwhelmed with emotions and her anxiety intensified.

–  Read How I Reached Burnout by Flic Taylor, who describes how the mental and physical exhaustion slowly crept up on her until it was too late.

–  Listen to psychotherapist Anna Mathur’s calming wisdom as she talks Overwhelm on Honestly podcast, and how we can combat it. 

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OR HOW ABOUT WRITING A LIST?

Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics are welcome.

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** ‘But why don’t I feel happy all the time?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now  and also on audiobook.**

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1 Comment

  • Reply Liberty Mills February 14, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. I think it will give strength to many others who feel they cant voice how they feel and feel trapped by their own feelings. lets all raise each other up.

  • Leave a Reply to Liberty Mills Cancel Reply