Anxious Motherhood: My Ducks Were In A Row
I knew it in my gut I wanted to be a mum. In fact, pre-kids I used to say I wanted five children!
Then in 2010 I had my first child, and everything changed.
I am a do-er. I rarely sit still and when I do. I am usually multitasking. I also like to empower people to stand on their own two feet; I’m happy to help, but I don’t like being responsible for their well-being.
So, you can imagine the shock that came over me when my first child was born. I couldn’t do anything. I had to sit for hours feeding, and I was limited to how much I could accomplish in a day. If I made dinner, I could call the day a success.
“You can imagine the shock that came over me when my first child was born”
My ability to rob a bank was gone because my getaway was so slow. Not to mention this baby relied on me to keep it alive. I was responsible for his well-being. And the weight gain! I put on 20kgs with my first born, and I did not feel attractive, nor was I motivated to exercise.
This was all too much for me and I honestly felt like I was always holding my breath.
I saw a psychologist who told me I did not have post-natal depression but was anxious. She recommended three pumps of ‘Rescue Remedy’ into a bottle of water and to embrace this season.
As she gave this advice to me, I felt my identity slipping away. I was a do-er, and I had my ducks in a row. I wasn’t someone who could sit on the couch, knowing dishes needed to be done or washing was piling up.
I was lonely too. I didn’t have many friends who were in this same season of life with me, and my best friend, who had a daughter a week before me, lived far, far away in country Victoria. It was tough.
My faith in God struggled too in that season. I kept reminding myself not to worry and even read Bible passages about the topic, but my body seemed to do whatever the heck it wanted to do.
What To Do About an Anxious Life
One lovely midwife spoke wisdom over me after my son’s check-up one day.
She said, “Samantha, don’t let your morning dictate your afternoon. Don’t let your afternoon dictate your evening. Don’t let your evening dictate your morning”.
So with this advice, I started slowly but surely clawing my way back. I purposely read the latest book that was out at the time, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, just so I could have something to talk about other than my kid.
I invested in a digital radio so I would have talk-back radio on from the moment I woke to the moment I went to bed.
My husband also worked part-time so I had his help, and I allowed him to help. I often would say to him I wished he could breastfeed the baby because he would love to just sit there. Slowly, I embraced the season.
When our baby turned six-months old we made a half-birthday cake and high-five’d each other, because we’d kept him alive! When my son was 10-months old we discovered we were pregnant again.
Shocked is an understatement. As well, I was panicked, but also excited?
However, on the dating scan the doctor found the pregnancy was a “molar pregnancy”. And so, after more tests, it was confirmed the pregnancy was not viable, and I needed to have a procedure to have it removed. Gutted and extremely anxious, I had the surgery.
When I woke, my husband looked over at me and we cried. Despite the heartache this moment solidified to us that we wanted another baby. I knew my anxiety, and I knew I had #controlissues, yet we pushed through and within months we were pregnant with our second child.
“Despite the heartache this moment solidified to us that we wanted another baby.”
These baby and toddler years were tricky but we got through it. One day at a time, one moment at a time.
Anxious and a Christian? Really?
Anxiety can seem irrational. “How can you be a Christian who claims to have a faith and trust in Jesus, but you struggle with being anxious?” has been a question posed to me.
So, I have struggled with this thought, plenty. In fact, there are times when my anxiety has been so great I feel guilty I simply cannot / will not let it go and trust God with whatever is burdening me.
Today, this is what I do know: God created us and knows what we are capable of. Anxiety is not a new idea to Him for He suggests we “Cast all our anxiety on him because he cares (v7)” 1 Peter 5:6-8. This gives me a safe place to work through my anxious moments and for that, I’m so grateful.
Crying out, H-E-L-P!
Currently, my daughter is prone to nightmares. She can become hysterical and scream out. One night she screamed out for me. I rushed to her side, and in her sleepy state she didn’t recognise me.
“No, I want my mum!” she whimpered.
“I’m your mum, I’m here.” I said as I slid into her bed and wrapped my arms around her. She continued to cry, so I continued to say “I’m here, I’m your mum., I’m here, I’m your mum. I’m here.” Eventually her fear subsided and she was peacefully asleep.
When I am gripped with anxiety or fear and I cry out to God I assume the silence means that He hasn’t heard my prayer. In that moment, I remembered God does hear our prayer and is repeating, “I’m here, I’m your Father. I’m here.”
“I assume the silence means that God hasn’t heard my prayer”
The problem is, I struggle to find peace in Him alone, or I’m simply not listening to Him. However, Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Beating Fear and Anxiety
I recently read an article by Stacy Reaoch, called “When fear seizes you”. In this article she said, “When fear begins to creep in and all the “what-if” situations begin to consume your mind, here are seven things to remember:
1. God’s truth. Is what I’m thinking about really happening? Or is it just my imagination running wild? Paul reminds us to dwell on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely commendable, excellent, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
2. God’s presence. We can be comforted remembering that we are not alone. God is with us. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
3. God’s grace. God promises to provide us with his all-sufficient grace for every trial that comes our way. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” Jesus told Paul. And therefore, with Paul, we can “boast all the more gladly of [our] weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon [us]” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
4. God’s sovereignty. God is in control over every situation in our lives. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35).
5. God’s listening ear. Pour out your heart to God in prayer. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry”(Psalm 40:1).
6. God’s trustworthiness. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?'(Psalm 56:3-4)
7. God’s big picture Plan. No matter how awful this trial may seem, God promises to use everything together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). We may not see the good in our situation at the time, but we can trust God has a hidden smile behind the dark cloud.
In conclusion, my anxiety is a painfully real aspect of my life, and something I struggle with. I am learning to commit the good and the bad days to God. I ask Him to help me in every season, so I am in the practice of not reaching out to Him when I am weak. He wants me to reach out to him on my good days too. The more I work on my relationship with Him, the more I feel his presence in the dark times. It’s a daily surrender, and a practice I don’t believe I will ever perfect.
I’m a working progress, taking it all in, just one day at a time.
Article supplied with thanks to Treasuring Mothers.
About the Author: Samantha Freestone is a Sydney mother-of-two.