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When is Pregnancy Anxiety Not About the Pregnancy?

Toddler

Moments like these have been rare the first time around, but what if they're more common with No. 2?

Twenty-two weeks into pregnancy No. 2, I’m starting to feel anxious. Like, really anxious. But it’s not about the pregnancy. It’s about the baby. Like, once the baby is born.

I was anxious when I was pregnant with my first daughter, too. That the pregnancy would go well. How I’d be as a mom. How I’d juggle work and home and money and marriage and, again, how I’d be as a mom, and, always, that the pregnancy would go well.

Now I’m worried that everything has gone so smoothly in the almost three years since my first daughter was born that maybe I’m pushing my luck by having another one.

When my daughter was six weeks old, she started sleeping through the night (something I never, ever tell women who tell me their kids’ sleeping horror stories. Because I’m sensitive like that). And at almost 3-years-old, she’s still an excellent sleeper. She goes 11 uninterrupted hours at night and in the afternoon, I have to wake her up from her nap to protests after 2+ hours.

But for the past two nights she’s woken up moaning at 3 a.m. When I’ve gone into her room to see what’s wrong, there’s been no discernible problem, other than she wants me to get in bed with her. And on both nights, I’ve refused and gone back into my own bed only to stay awake for another hour or two wondering what it would be like to have a child who does that several times at night, night after night, and how I’ll function if that’s what happens with daughter No. 2.

I know there are always curveballs in life and parenting, but the past few years have been lovely and manageable. My daughter is healthy, happy and as normal as I ever could have hoped for (although her current, seemingly permanent state of defiance is something I could easily do without). And while I’m sure the new baby will be the same, I find myself worrying about what happens if she’s not.

“God only gives you what you can handle,” an acquaintance said to me when I mentioned a few years ago how lucky I felt that my daughter was so easy.

She might have meant that in a nice way, or she might have meant it as the insult it appeared to be.

I do remember being pregnant the first time and wondering how we’d handle the baby in general, and then feeling relieved when I realized that you do just that — handle it. We took everything as it came and made a point not to be surprised, or surprised very little, by anything. And I’m sure that’ll be the case again. But this time if we actually can’t handle it, it’s not just us who will be affected, but our older daughter as well.

The decision to have another baby was not taken lightly. We talked about it for a few years before deciding it was the right move for our family for a variety of reasons. I still believe in those reasons with my whole heart, but my head is struggling at the moment.

I’m hopeful this phase of my pregnancy will pass just as the morning sickness did. Because I know anxiety is already part of parenting and it would be nice to spend the next four months worrying about my water breaking in a public place instead of what happens if all hell breaks loose.

How much do you worry in pregnancy about the pregnancy vs. what happens after the baby is born?

Image: Meredith Carroll

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