FEAR + WORRY

9.18.2014


When the doctor handed Elsa to me, I was out of breath from pushing and overwhelmed by how crazy and exciting it was to finally meet her. I also realized as I tried to grip her slippery body that, "I READ SO MANY BOOKS BUT I NEVER READ HOW TO HOLD A NEWBORN SOMEONE HELP ME."

It's trial by fire, and all of the books in the world can kind of help but will not change the fact that your baby is not a book. Your baby is a tiny person, that will have likes and dislikes and hate tight pants just as much as you do. I mean, definitely support the head. Just understand that it will always be in the presence of people you don't know well when you talk about your baby's strong neck that they do the "crazy whiplash flail away from you" thing that makes you look like a novice parent that doesn't know to support her baby's head. I am a novice, and it's okay.

More than wondering what my body would look like after I gave birth or when I would ever sleep again, I worried about postpartum depression. Based on the fact that before ever getting pregnant I used to have to put myself in premenstrual quarantine each month because my hormones seemed to render me emotionally unstable (read: ruinous of all relationships and/or hungry like a wolf) - I was nervous. Most of what I'd read about postpartum depression said it affected a lot of new moms several days after delivery, but most descriptions seemed vague. What would I be sad about? What is the depression like? I'd been depressed before, but it seemed daunting that it would happen when so much was required of you to care for a new human.

Thankfully, I was never overtaken - at least not in the capacity that I was anticipating. I was blissfully happy about my new little family. I was ramped up on adrenaline, and if I'm being totally honest - having this done really seriously helped with hormone balance (don't judge).

I struggled a lot with anxiety, though. I know every mother that has woken up every ten minutes and stared at their baby's chest waiting for it to rise and fall understands that. I felt like I was in a fog of seeing the world in a new way - through the eyes of a mother that had no control of the world around her.

In the first couple weeks, Bryan somehow convinced me to leave the house. We went for ice cream and a walk in a park near our house. Being with my little family was precious and good, and I was thankful. I felt completely overwhelmed by strangers, though. I was acutely aware and burdened by the heaviness and brokenness of the world that our daughter was born into.

I'd get swept up in thinking of all of the perversion, disasters, and horrible things that happen every day - and then sadness that I had no control or power to stop the possibility of any of it happening to her. I was letting my thoughts run rampant in vivid macabre scenarios of all the terrible things that could happen. What if Bryan were in a car accident on the way home from work and died? What if I woke up and Elsa had suffocated? My fears were crippling me. All I wanted was the comfort of having the guarantee of her safety. I wanted to know we could promise her a good life.

Sharing my worries and fears with a good friend, I was immediately relieved to discover I wasn't alone in my struggle (well, duh). She understood, and gently went further into the issue to the struggle that was happening in my heart. Control. Fear. Worry. Anxiety. My feelings were warranted, but I couldn't stop my thoughts there. I had to think about what was true even if it was really hard.

God gives us grace in our time of need - as they happen. The things I was thinking about had not happened, were not guaranteed to not happen, but I was losing precious real time in life that was happening by living in a sad place in my mind that didn't actually exist. I had to start to work really hard to filter my thoughts and feelings through, "Is this thought: true, honorable, just, pure...?" I usually never get past the "is this true" part.

I have to practice every day - and I'm going to go ahead and guess that's oh, you know THE REST OF MY LIFE. I am learning more so than ever that I cannot let my thoughts be passive and expect good to come from it. I have to trust God with Elsa, and with Bryan, and with everyone I love. As easy as it is for me to think of all of the horrible things that could happen - I have to rest in God's sovereignty and trust that He is good, He is in control, and that He loves my baby more than I ever could. I have to find comfort in His promises and know that He will help and love and comfort us in our time of need as they happen, but that I can't entertain my imagination. It's dangerous and debilitating and distracting. It is a battle to fight for joy and to keep choosing it, but it is worth it.

In the short time that we've come to know and love our girl, God is teaching me over and over (so mercifully) that I have no control. I am seeing what an honor it is and what power there is in praying for her, and to thank God for her. For every moment - good, bad, and ugly. I can teach her about the beauty of knowing Jesus, and I can tell her how much peace and comfort there is in trusting that the God who knows the number of her days and the hairs on her head loves her immeasurably more than I am able.

For anyone that is a mother or about to become one, I pray you are surrounded by the God of peace and know that you are not alone, you are loved, your baby is loved. Your anxious thoughts and worries are known by God before you think them. I pray for comfort and hope for the journey in knowing Him. Our hearts really are outside of our bodies now -- but there is so much joy to be had and my prayer is that we continue to fight for that. I hope your sweet moments far outweigh the hard ones. I pray that you know you can be brave, because the victory is already won.

(P.S. This book has been a great blessing to me. I'd recommend it to anyone that struggles with fear, anxiety, or worry...not just mamas).

21 comments:

  1. I suffer from sometimes debilitating social anxiety and this is such a lovely post to read. I especially love the idea of asking myself "is this thought true..." Thank you for giving me another tool for when I'm feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
    Much love to you and your family. Praying for continued peace over you.

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  2. THIS! ALL OF THIS!!! I hope you don't mind but I bookmarked this page on my phone so I can open this up whenever I'm having those exact same feelings and read this beautifully written post and remind myself that it will all be OK. During my prenatal yoga class this week our topic of the week was fears. What I said and what you posted are so eerily similar, that I now find comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in having these feelings! Thank you for providing me with a beautifully-written reminder that we are all capable of handling any situation that we face with His love and guidance surrounding us.

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  3. This was me after my first! I was paralyzed by anxiety, what if while I am walking my son in the stroller a bus comes out of no where and can't break? What if I am at the grocery store and just pass out randomly, surely someone is going to kidnap my child! I mean I was on another level! I was assured by other moms this was normal, but not to let it over take the joy that is this new baby. It was hard but I overcame it. Even after three I still get paranoid fears, but you're right. We are not in control. This was a great post to read to be reminded of that.

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  4. I experienced the same things after my first was born. No book can prepare you for it! Beautifully written - thank you for sharing.

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  5. I feel like you took every word right out of my mouth... Expecially the worries of dying or my husband dying. My biggest fear still to this day is 2 a king up to Evelyn not breathing. Thank you for making me feel like I wasn't alone. :)

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  6. Thank you for this beautiful reflection. The reminder that God gives us grace in times of need, and in the meantime we need to focus on what is true, just, honorable is so good....I loved this.

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  7. I am so glad if it served as an encouraging reminder for you. Thanks for the kind words, Vanessa :)

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  8. So far from alone! I hope you continue to fight those thoughts and drown them out with the truth :) and oh my worrrrdddd look at her perfect little face!

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  9. Seriously, I almost wish I'd read less books! Hahaha. Thanks so much for saying so. I'm thankful you took the time to comment!

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  10. I do the same thing! I have these horrible scenarios and I startle myself...like WHERE did that come from? I am glad to know that it gets better. I can't imagine it will ever be easy, per se, but a friend on Instagram made the beautiful point that it gets better as they grow and you see how strong and resilient they are. It was a great perspective for me!

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  11. I am so glad it was a helpful and encouraging reminder for you! It's crazy how it all begins so quickly the moment you find out you are pregnant. We are just immediately confronted with how we don't have control. We can take care of ourselves and our bodies, but we are still in the humble position of having to trust God with everything. It's good, but difficult and against my natural way of thinking. 2 Timothy 1:7 was a huuuuge help to me throughout my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and newborn days. It's short and easy to memorize and it's SO powerful!

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  12. Melanie, I am so sorry to hear that you experience such a hard thing. I hope this encourages you and helps you train your mind that you can be encouraged by the truth. Thank you so much for your kind words :)

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  13. I can only imagine the struggle of worry once one becomes a mother. It seems daunting to think about it. Praise the Lord we are not in control of the world, amiright?! I am glad that you are acknowledging your fear, praying through it, and talking through it with other women. There is such value in all of that and when it comes down to it, that's really all we can do. I will definitely be coming back to read this again when I'm a mom!

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  14. You are totally wonderful and encouraging. I am a nervous, anxious wreck so much of the time even without a baby. I need to read that book!

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  15. I have no idea how it is that I am just now coming across your blog. What an amazing writer you are. And this post!!! Oh my gosh. I have been terrified of just the thought of ever having children and this is the most comforting thing I've ever read. Wow.

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  16. I don't know that I'd have categorized myself as a worrier before having her. Maybe I was an didn't realize it - it's just the prospect of being responsible for her, and being overwhelmed with the maternal instincts to love and protect. It's amazing, but definitely sends me riiight back to Jesus ;)

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  17. You are the best. We can talk all about it when the time comes. I will be your Mr. Miyagi of pregnancy and motherhood...haahaha!

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  18. Um, so seriously HONORED -- I have such a girl crush on you and Whitney! I've actually met Whitney, though - she can tell you I'm not a psychopath ;) I am so glad it comforted you! I feel like as soon as I got pregnant/became a mom I was thrown by how much no one told me! I'd like to remedy that to an extent, in whatever small way I can.

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  19. yes yes yessssssss. this sentence, yes.

    I was acutely aware and burdened by the heaviness and brokenness of the world that our daughter was born into.

    (i also loved waiting for birdy--she's sort of an anxious mama too and also a funny one. gooooood book.)

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  20. This is beautiful and so easy for me to resonate with. I had my daughter 17 months ago and I remember crying when I saw a commercial for a hungry, starving baby. I was overcome with the fact that I could feed my child when she was hungry and there are babies everywhere that did not have that basic need met. That led me to become incredibly in tune with feelings about the brokenness of our world, the pain, suffering, and terrible, horrible things I wanted to shield her from. It's my prayer every day to keep her safe and protected.

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  21. Just found your blog from a redirect of Ashley Jones from a Bachelor recap - I SO wish I had read this with my first, and my second child, even if just to know I'm not the only one who struggles with thinking the absolute worst when my husband is five minutes late or my child sleeps through the night :) Great post, and I remember learning the same thing about 'grace for the moment' - He gives us grace for our current moment. Not all the ones (not)yet to come. Looking forward to reading more!

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