When I was pregnant with my first child I was full of excitement and hope. I didn’t give much thought to what could go wrong. My pregnancy was uneventful. There were a few weeks of nausea, but it passed fairly quickly. My migraines disappeared, my skin glowed and stayed clear, and the world was my oyster. I gave plenty of thought to the upcoming birth. I read books, switched to a doctor with a lower c-section rate, hired a doula and took natural childbirth classes. My husband and I practiced our relaxation exercises at home and my best friend (who was also pregnant with her first) and I went for walks around the neighborhood. I cut out caffeine and ate as healthfully as I could. I never really got very nervous about the actual birth. There wasn’t much fear factored into the equation. I think it was because is was so unknown to me, and for some reason, since I had no idea what to really expect, I wasn’t very scared about what was coming.
Fast forward three and a half years later. I became pregnant for the third time, after having a second pregnancy that ended with a miscarriage. I’m not going to lie… this time there was some fear. My first birth was a wonderful (lengthy) experience. But on the morning that we were set to go home, the unexpected happened, and it was scary. The doctor detected a heart murmur and while she was in the nursery and we were waiting for the cardiac consult, our precious newborn turned what is called “dusky” and was rushed to the NICU. We weren’t told until we were walking to the nursery to check on her. It was terrifying. It’s a long story that stretched over three days, many tests, a round of antibiotics, and ultrasounds… all to find out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She was the only full term baby in the NICU, and the only one that was perfectly healthy and happy. We were so thankful.
My miscarriage was the experience that instilled the most fear in this mother’s heart. I found it so hard to get excited about my new pregnancy. I had not finished mourning for the baby I had lost. Joy did not come easily, and when it did it was not until a few months into the pregnancy, when the chance of miscarriage is reduced drastically. Then that fear was quickly replaced by the fear of the known! I had been through one natural birth and was planning for a second. I knew what was coming. I feared that I wouldn’t be as strong this time around and that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I feared the pain, even though I had endured it already. I feared bringing a second child into the dynamics of our family. How would I have enough love for two children? How could I possibly love this baby as much as my daughter? How would I face the challenges of mothering a newborn and a four year old?
Friends, there are so many things that we can allow ourselves to fear. We can live in fear of the unknown or in fear of the known. I don’t know which way you lean, or if somehow you have learned how to take everything in stride, how to not fear. I have found that fear will paralyze you. Fear will keep you from joy. It will steal the everyday moments that are so precious. It’s easy to allow it to sneak in if we leave room for it. There is a place for fear. There is a fear that is healthy, but not if it steals your joy or keeps you from living.
Where do you fall on the spectrum?
How do you deal with your fears?
I’d love to know.