Worry and Loss
By: Sadie Robbins
For as long as I can remember, I have been a worrier. As a young child, I worried if my parents went out somewhere that they would get in a car accident. If there was bad weather, I worried that a tornado would ruin our house. As I got older, I continued to worry about things, but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I realized my worries were more than that—I had anxiety.
Eight years ago, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 5 weeks along. This was something that wasn’t even on my radar of things to worry about at the time, and it was very devastating. For the next three months after that loss, my mind was constantly going through all of the scenarios of what could be wrong with me to cause this to happen, or what I had done wrong. Although I understood an early miscarriage like this was a very common occurrence and it was unlikely that I did anything to cause this, it was hard for me to not have a specific “reason” to point to. As soon as my midwife said we could try again, I became pregnant with my daughter Stella. This pregnancy went perfectly—no problems whatsoever, and I had a sense of calm throughout the pregnancy.
After Stella’s birth in May 2011, I suddenly found myself faced with a whole new world of worries. She was a very healthy baby who breastfed perfectly and gained weight like a champ, but I still found myself worrying about every little thing. I remember sitting on my couch holding her when she was a newborn, and becoming stressed at the terrible thoughts that entered my mind…what if I fall down the stairs while I’m carrying her? What if I drop her and she gets a head injury? I thought I was going crazy, because I knew these worries were going above and beyond the normal new mom worries like ‘Is she breathing?’ or ‘Is she dressed warmly enough?’ I mostly kept these worries to myself, which didn’t help me at all. I think what it came down to is that I had this perfect little person who I was now completely responsible for, and I felt so much pressure not to mess her up! I didn’t realize it at the time, but because of my anxiety, my brain tends to jump to the worst case scenario. This tendency, coupled with my postpartum hormones, made the
worries come fast and furious.
After a few months, when the brand new mom phase ended and I felt more comfortable in my new role, the outrageous, continuous worries subsided. I still worried, of course, especially if Stella got sick, or when I wasn’t with her because of work or somewhere I had to go. When Stella was 15 months old, I got pregnant again. Although I was thrilled and so grateful for this pregnancy, I could not shake a terrible sense of dread that I felt. I hoped that it was just my anxiety making me worry about another miscarriage, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. When I was 16 weeks along, my worst fear happened. My water broke, and we discovered that I unknowingly had an infection that got into my blood. I had to deliver our tiny son, who we named Noah Christian, on 12-17- 12. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me, and has changed my life in many ways. I’m not the same person I was before we lost Noah, and although there were many negative things resulting from this loss, there were positive things as well.
As a result of this traumatic loss, my next pregnancy was the toughest nine months of my entire life. I found out I was pregnant on the day Noah was due, which also happened to be my husband and my 5th anniversary. I worried and was stressed every single day of my pregnancy with David. I found a lot of solace in a bereavement support group called SHARE, in which I met wonderful women who understood my feelings.(These relationships and also the opportunity to help others in their grief are some of the positive things I alluded to earlier). I also began going to therapy, but not until I was 7 months pregnant with David. My therapist really helped me to understand why I was feeling what I was feeling, and I realized for the first time that I truly had anxiety.
Our “rainbow” (baby born after a loss) David was born on 1-29- 14, and I can honestly say that until I held him in my arms, I didn’t know if I could ever feel true joy again. I didn’t have the same level of postpartum anxiety that I did after Stella, but because David was my rainbow baby, I had a strong sense of protection over him, and still do to this day. I especially worry a lot when he (or any of my kids) gets sick. Through therapy, I have learned a lot more about how my mind works, and because of this, as well as the support of my husband and family and in more recent years, a growth in my relationship with God and a deepened prayer life, I am in a much better place now. When I was pregnant for the 5th time, with Jonah, born in April of 2016, I experienced far less worries and fears, although some were still there.
Being a worrier is exhausting. All parents, especially moms, worry about their kids. But in my case, my worries often overwhelmed me and led to anxiety flare-ups, which were tough on me. Personally my biggest trigger is pregnancy (because of my miscarriages) but I experience worry and anxiety at other times as well. I also dealt with a lot of guilt after losing Noah, which has been something I have had to work through ever since. Finding support in others who have experienced loss, therapy, leaning on family and friends, prayer, my kids, time, and sharing my experiences with others have been the things that have helped me along the way in my journey as a mom.