Parenting

Blind faith

Katie thought her anxiety would go away after her baby was born

Credit: bradleypjohnson

To say I’m a worrier is like saying my mom’s homemade pizza is just ‘OK.’ Like saying the subway during rush hour in Toronto is ‘busy.’ Like saying Rob Lowe at 17 was ‘cute’ (rather than the smoking hot babe I watched in Youngblood on TV this week). It’s an understatement of epic proportions. If I could be paid for worrying, I’d be a millionaire a few times over. Add my darling daughter to the mix, and my worry-o-meter is off the charts. Permanently.

I started worrying about Sophie before she was even a positive line on a stick. Truly. I mentioned in a previous post that I’d been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, and, let me tell you, when you google ‘PCOS’ and ‘fertility’, you can scare yourself silly. I read article after article, and (unfortunately) forums and message boards galore (everyone thinks they’re an expert) and I found myself thinking about the fate of my unborn children way more than I should have at that point. Blaine and I hadn’t even really discussed the timeline for kids and I was already freaked out that the timeline would be years of trying. For some, it is. And if you are going through fertility treatments now, I am sending you every good wish and happy thought I have, because I know it’s a hard road. I wasn’t on it for as long as I thought I would be, and I am grateful for that every day.

Then when the line showed up in the window (multiple windows, I admit — I took five tests over three days just to be super-sure — yes, I know I’m ridiculous), the worry hit a whole new level. It revolved around getting to 12 weeks. I kept the secret from most people for the first trimester, despite my nausea and the puffy belly I had a hard time hiding by week 13, because I just couldn’t bear to think about having to go back to those same people to tell them it was no longer. I thought I’d worry less by the fourth month, but not so. I started worrying about feeling movement, so weeks 13 through 18 sucked — until the little popcorn sensation started up while on a trip to Ireland in June. Every time I surpassed a pregnancy milestone, I started worrying about the next one. And, honestly, it didn’t go away until the doctor put Soph on my chest and I heard those first cries. In fact, she didn’t cry for the first few seconds and I said, “Why aren’t you crying?” I needed the cries before I believed it was true. I guess you could say that I was an anxious basket case for all of the eight months I knew about this little babe in my belly. So much so that I was referred to an antenatal anxiety specialist in the summer, so I could try and deal with the anxiety and allow myself to fully embrace the joy. And, really, there was a whole lot of joy to be found.

I expected the anxiety to be better now that Sophie is here, in the flesh, but it has just been transmuted. Now I worry about new things. I watch her like a hawk — every sneeze and cough has me on edge. I’ve taken the poor kid’s temperature at least six times in the past three weeks because the paediatrician told me a fever in the first three months wouldn’t be good. I hate that she won’t sleep in her properly-ventilated bassinet without any blankets and with the fan on in accordance with SIDS recommendations (the kid wants to sleep with me, which currently has me sleeping for at least some part of the night with one eye open and wedged into a corner of the couch where neither she nor I can move). I’m tired and tense and my brain feels like it used to feel during exams in university.

Now, the lovely part about working at a parenting magazine is that I can pick up the phone and have many brilliant mothers-cum-editors on the line in a second. Outside of my mom, my sister-in-law Tracy and my friend Erin (who might as well be my sister), they are my Mommy Hotline. So, when I called Karine, our editor-in-chief, to talk about the sleeping situation, she told me something I’ve been mulling over for the past week: It’s all about blind faith. It’s about trusting your instincts and cutting yourself some slack (the latter, I do not profess to do well). It’s about trial and error. And, I think, it’s about embracing the joy and doing your best to turn away from the shadows (another thing I do not claim as a particularly strong personality trait of mine). The more I think about this, about blind faith, the more I think that making the decision to have a baby in the first place is a leap of blind faith. You have no idea what to expect, both of the pregnancy and of the kid, and yet, something in you tells you to jump with both feet and figure it out as you go. For me, for all Type As, that notion should be completely bonkers. I guess the joy outweighs the lack of control.

I realized, in the analysis of blind faith, that I have basically spent a decade worrying about Sophie (and any other brothers or sisters we give her in years to come). So much so that I overlooked the happiness kids would bring. And when I look at her, I know that I’ll eventually have to let her walk home from school, go to a movie with friends, go on a date, go away to school. I’ll have to remember that as much as she is an extension of me, she is her own person. And I will have to invoke that blind faith over and over throughout her life, so that she becomes the strong, independent woman I hope she will be. It won’t be easy, I know. Just like it wasn’t easy waiting for her to arrive and change our lives.

All I can say is that it’s a good thing this kid has her dad to keep her mom from bubble-wrapping her and taping her to the couch.

Photo by bradleypjohnson via Flickr