Pregnancy Anxiety: How I admit to myself it’s OK to not be OK

I want to preface this with an understanding of who I normally am. I am normally a little more reserved, until I get to know you. I prefer to be home with my family or surrounded by my family. I’m not usually a social butterfly, but once I get a little comfortable I will do my best to mingle amongst people. My husband is my rock. He makes me feel safe and I am always much more social and friendly when he is close by. I am most social on social media. I have never thought I was an anxious person. I have had less than a handful of panic attacks in my mid-20s, and have never had any true issue in the past. That is why over the past few months I have had a very hard time coping and understanding just what was going on with my body.

Currently I am 7 months pregnant with my 5th child. My family and I are all kind of used to my craziness during my pregnancies, but this time was a little different. I was accustomed to getting the fatigue, the irritability, the wild range of emotions, but I was not used to what has been going on with me lately.

I was experiencing a shortness of breath early on in pregnancy, which I found odd because I was not, for lack of better words, large in size yet. I had only gained 15 lbs or so and I normally don’t get winded until I am larger. I just chalked it up to the fact that maybe this pregnancy was just going to be different since I’m getting older and I’m constantly chasing around my toddler, while homeschooling 3 older ones who always need my help. I talked with my midwife about it and we did a blood test, but again it was being assumed that my body is just handling this pregnancy differently. However, she did mention that if I started getting a racing heart rate it might be something else, and to just let her know if it did start happening.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but decided to make a conscious effort to actually pay attention to my body during these spells. Sure enough, my heart would start to race and then the shortness of breath would set it. Again, I just thought it was my body telling me, “slow down, you’re doing too much” and so I would sit catch my breath and try to get my heart rate back to normal. I tried to do my best to listen to my body, but when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be looking for it’s a little confusing.

Then the anxiety started to set it. I had only had 2-3 panic attacks in my life, and well over 10 years ago so it’s not like it was fresh in my mind as to what it felt like or the oncoming signs. It also doesn’t help that it was the beginning of the holiday season and the normal stress of all that comes with the season was almost like a mask to what was actual going on with me.

I had Thanksgiving dinner to plan and prepare, Christmas gift list, the sell of our restaurant and my husband’s career change, homeschool self made deadlines, and of course my pregnancy to think, and worry about. I chalked most of my uneasy feelings up to my pregnancy, and just normal hormone shift. I could feel the metaphorical weight start to pile on my shoulders, but I just kept thinking if I just make it to bedtime I can unwind and get a grasp on it.

Can you guess what ended up happening? Yup! The anxiety started to build up, like the pressure of an impending volcano eruption. I could feel it bubbling up under the surface and would have little blowups at the most undeserving of victims, my kids. But then I started feeling shaken and overwhelmed on a daily basis. There was no escaping and I felt like one of those cartoon cars that teeter on the top of a mountain just waiting to go over the side. Tears constantly flooding my eyes, always trying to catch my breath, finding a way to keep busy so I don’t breakdown. I let my husband know what I had been feeling and that I was starting to get nervous while driving, especially at night, and I started getting anxious spells. I didn’t think that when I told him I would start to feel more anxious. Like it was some type of horrible trait that I needed to get a handle on, and confessing that I couldn’t control it was shameful. I got 4 anxiety “spurts” that night and my husband just held my hand and squeezed it to let me know it’s ok and he was there.

I don’t always like to share the vulnerability I have, not with my spouse, my friends, and even with my health care providers! I think, “I’m ok, I don’t need help”, and just try and persevere through it. However, this time around I did inform my midwife of my symptoms, and she suggested that my adrenals are off because of my pregnancy and I should take a supplement. I’m currently “under surveillance” to see if this will help me out. I’m not back to normal, or even close to it. I want to share with you all because if anyone is feeling the same way or similar at all, maybe this will give you the comfort knowing that you’re not alone and there is nothing wrong with you. Don’t be afraid to open your mouth, because there is someone there to help.

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