Being a mum is a difficult task as it is: having to look after a little person at the same time as look after yourself, I mean come on, it was hard enough looking after yourself when you were a teenager. Am I right? But now your what? A few years older, you’re in your twenties and we are expected to have matured enough to look after two people, or even three or four depending on how many children you have. But, us mums do it. As soon as that little boy or girl takes their first breath it’s like we ere born to do it. All the things we thought we wouldn’t be able to do, like survive on 4 hours sleep, feed a little person at the same time as eating your own meal, juggle 55 thousand bags and a toddler just to go out on a trip to the park and find the time to do all the house work and hold down a full time job while caring for a little one. We manage to do it and I take my hat off to all you mummies out there with one, two, three or more children. We are doing an awesome job, even if we don’t think we are.
So, what happens when you are a mother who suffers with anxiety? I’m not saying talking about a mild case. I mean full-blown panic attack anxiety. Before I had Alfie my anxiety was bad enough. I would panic about going on a plane, just incase something awful happened; I would panic about myself getting different disease’s, like honestly, I would be in the doctors so often that my own doctor would say, “what is it now Tara?”; I would panic about driving down the motorway because you can’t control all the other drivers that are around you; and I would panic about animals, from the smallest things like a hamster to much bigger things like a dog. I have struggled through with this since I was about 10 years old. Back then when I was younger it was a lot harder. I used to struggle to sleep; scared something would happen to me in my sleep. I’d have out of body experiences during my sleep because my body was just so exhausted.
It got so much better as I became a teenager and other things became more important. I filled my time with my friends, socializing and, let’s be fair, going out like all teenagers do. I didn’t really have time to think about my anxiety and when I did I was too embarrassed to show anyone so I would either flood it and just do the things I panicked about or I would just avoid those things. Like when I went on holiday with my friends down to Newquay I told them that I wasn’t interested in surfing, when really I was just so scared of drowning or being eaten by a shark or attacked by anything else that lives in the sea. The anxiety slipped away and I didn’t really think I had it anymore until the day I got pregnant.
Don’t get me wrong, getting pregnant with Alfie was the happiest I had ever felt. His Dad and me had really thought about it and had decided that this was what we really wanted. I found out really early, at around 2 weeks, that I was pregnant with Alfie and had heard all the horror stories about miscarriage etc., but I decided that I wouldn’t worry about this and just have a calm pregnancy. This stuck for around 9 weeks and then it happened. I hadn’t really noticed that I was pregnant up until around 9 weeks; either that or I wasn’t paying any attention to it. I think I chose to forget about it so that I wouldn’t get excited or worry, but as I hit 9 weeks I started to bleed and, as you can imagine, this is when my anxiety came flooding back. Honestly, I didn’t really expect the love I would feel for an unborn baby and it hit me like a ton of bricks that day and I realised how scared I was. I then panicked from 9 weeks until 40 weeks and 3 days exactly, which was when Alfie was born. Thankfully the bleeding was nothing serious and Alfie was fine, but this didn’t put my mind at ease. It felt like the longest 9 months of my life and due to my anxiety and constant worrying I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy at all. The day he came I can remember being in tears in the delivery room because I was so scared he wasn’t ok. It even got to the point where the mid-wife enquired as to whether I needed to stay in for a few days to help me realise that everything was okay, but being scared of hospitals I declined and went home
The first few weeks were the worst, as even though your maternal instincts kick in and you practically know exactly what to do and if there is something up with your baby, I still worried. This was made worse by the fact that Alfie was rushed in to hospital at 2 weeks old with a rash all over his body and he wouldn’t stop crying. It wasn’t a normal baby cry, it was an ear-piercing scream and I knew something was up. The worse part was that I was in the A&E waiting room for a grand total of 5 minutes before a nurse called me in and practically straight away swooped Alfie away telling me to follow quickly. Those next 72 hours were the worst hours of my life. Alfie was dehydrated so had to go on to a drip and they suspected that he might have meningitis. They did a series of tests, including a lumber puncture to see if it was meningitis and he was put on antibiotics straight away as they didn’t want to leave it until they had the results, because if it was meningitis then it could have been too late. Luckily it wasn’t, the rash was just a heat rash and the fact he was dehydrated and not drinking was all down to really bad colic.
So this made it even worse as during that time in hospital I was told to prepare myself for the worst and that they couldn’t promise me he was going to be ok. This obviously sounds so dramatic now given what was actually wrong with Alfie, but I don’t blame them at all for being that way as they didn’t know what it was. I had now experience the utter fear of loosing my precious little baby and, honestly, I cannot tell you how horrific that was. I felt that this episode made me even more protective of him and I will admit that for the next year we were in and out of A&E a fair few times due to Alfie’s temperature. Now, I wasn’t being stupid and wasting the hospitals time, on all occasions I went to the doctors first and yes, the doctors told me nothing was wrong. But, Alfie always got worse at night and I ended up in A&E and coming home a good 5 hours later with antibiotics. This was all due to my job and him being around children all the time who brought in all their lovely colds. With Alfie being very young at the time he got everything. He now has quite a good immune system because of this and doesn’t get every cold that comes in to the Childminding setting. I don’t think I’ve had to take Alfie to the doctors for a good 6 month, but now I’m sure I have jinxed him and we’ll be there in the next couple of weeks.
So, not only with the different illnesses there is to worry about with your child, and trust me there’s loads, I mean I paid £300 for Alfie to get the meningitis b vaccinations that he missed out on because he was too old by the time it came to be free on then NHS, there is also the fact that your child can hurt themselves really badly. Alfie seems to like to test me and has hurt himself a number of time already, like when he had just learn to walk and decided to try and run and ended up falling head first in to the corner of a windowsill. His head began to bleed and seemed to go on and on. One time he was sat on my knee and threw himself off sideways and banged his head on the corner of the skirting board, that also bled a lot. It is like this boys head is drawn to the corner of things. Now-a-days we scrape our knees and scuff our hands and every time it breaks my heart even though they’re all really small.
There’s also the fear of loosing your child, your child choking and now, because of this day and age your child being caught up in something horrific. I, honestly, wish I could wrap him up in cotton wool and keep him at home with me all day long, this would definitely help my anxiety. My anxiety runs wild with all theses different things and I find it so hard to try and not show Alfie when I am afraid. To be fair he’s at an age now where I know he knows if I’m scared so I have to man up. Like on the weekend when he was too scared to go in to the sea, I had to flood that fear of mine, take off my shoes and paddle in that damn sea like I just didn’t care. Finally he was in there with me as happy as can be. In a way I can say that Alfie is helping me with some of my fears but others I have had to fight with myself.
We all know what’s going on in the world today and the fact that it is a risk going to events, going to big city’s and even going on holiday, but do we stop our children and not let them live their lives to the full? Or do we grit our teeth and panic the whole time we are doing the thing we think is not safe? I have sleepless nights due to my anxiety. I get so worried sometimes that I make myself feel ill because of it, but I just have to grit my teeth and not show it to Alfie. It’s really difficult being a mum with anxiety and I can’t tell you how I cope with it I just do. Not many people know I suffer from it because I don’t let them know about it as I don’t want people to think I’m weak or can’t cope because I think I have proven that isn’t the case. It’s harder being a single mum, because it means that I don’t really have a choice but to cope and unlike people who have someone else to fall back on I don’t, so I can’t just give up. So, for all you mums out there who are in the same boat as me all I can say is if you’re keeping your head above water and taking each day as it comes, like I am then you’re doing an awesome job. I have no advice for you on how to deal with it because I honestly don’t know how I am doing it. All I know is that you have to listen to yourself, you know best and you know how you’re going to be happy. You know what is acceptable for your children and if someone thinks you’re wrong well, you need to take time to consider that they don’t really know the full story or understand what you are going through. In addition you know your child best so do what you want. As long as like me you are not limiting your child or holding them back, even though we all want to keep them safe and do that, then you’re doing amazingly and hold your head up and smile because you are strong.
So, yes mothers have to cope with anxiety and god only knows how we do it, but we do.