I remember so badly wanting to have babies. Probably about 3 months before my wedding the feeling really kicked into gear. It was probably only days after our wedding that I really started to talk to Ben about how ready I felt to start a family. I knew he felt the same although we both wanted to do a little travel before. So we had planned a trip to Costa Rica.
About a week before the trip we were at a family thanksgiving (October) when my cousin Justine announced she was expecting her second child. I can recall so well Ben and I looking at each other and having a quick hushed conversation. Our fate was sealed; there would be no waiting we were officially trying.
Ben and I in Costa Rica
Off to Costa Rica we went, and pregnant we were basically instantly. Now I don’t know if it happens for all women but I felt instantly connected to this new baby. I remember in some ways talking to baby (in my own head…no I am not certifiably insane, at least I think…). We decided to stay team green and not find out what we were having.
But I knew. I have never felt so sure about anything as much as I was that I knew we were having a girl. Many people tried to convince me that it was a boy. In fact they were sure of it, the way I was carrying, the way I looked, my morning sickness the reasons went on and on.
My sister Sarah and I made a deal. If I went into labour anytime before July 21st she was allowed in the delivery room. I made the bet feeling safe I would win since I was not due until August 5th. And all first time moms go overdue. In the wee hours of July 22nd I woke up to full on labour. My little girl was already torturing her Aunty.
This is where I believe the beginnings of my anxiety really kicked in (depression never came until much later and more in my second pregnancy). I remember lying in my hospital bed the first night after Aubrey was born and suddenly feeling panic. I was so sure she would stop breathing at any second. And I knew that I could never handle that. So, I did the only logical thing…I held her and stayed awake almost all night until Ben took over for an hour at 6 am.
Life with Aubrey was amazing. And truly the adjustment to suddenly having this tiny little life to take care of was not that huge. But the anxiety…oh the worry. The second night we were at home my Mom finally convinced me to go to bed and she would hold Aubrey until she was really asleep and slip her into her bassinet and leave. I agreed. That was probably the first sleep I got.
Aubrey and I a few hours after she was born
I quickly picked up life almost exactly where I had left it before Aubrey. I took her everywhere. I went to the movies, swimming, out to dinner with friends and family. There was almost no place I didn’t take her along.
There were little things that I often wondered if they were normal. I worried constantly about her breathing; in the middle of the night I would bolt awake in panic sure I would find her lying there blue and unresponsive.
As she got older the worries turned to other things, is she eating enough, sleeping enough, am I interacting with her enough, the list really went on and on. But I was happy. I loved being a mom, I even stayed calm through the 4 weeks of torture that breastfeeding was in the beginning. And Aubrey was an amazing baby. She almost never cried. I remember my Aunty Dawn telling me that her and Lee had had a conversation with him telling her “Don’t say anything to anyone but I think something is wrong with that baby, seriously she doesn’t even cry!”
Amidst the happiness the anxiety festered. It planted itself and dug it’s roots deep inside me. I started worrying about bigger things. Things that I knew were not worth worrying about, but just couldn’t stop. My biggest worries came when I weaned Aubrey and she was ready for babysitters. Oh my. I wondered how mothers ever left their children (I still do). Not just because of the worry but because I loved her SO much.
I worried that anyone who babysat her would miss something. They would not be watching and she would fall down the stairs, choke, become inconsolable, or maybe even the worst feel like the only person she was truly attached to (myself) had abandoned her. The thought of that nearly choked the air right out of me anytime I let my mind go there.
Slowly I did start to have different family members watch her. It took me until she was 18 months to leave her overnight. And that was because Ben went ahead and surprised me with a trip to Vegas. Otherwise her first night away from me would have been when Elise was born!
Another thing that always got me (and if I am honest still does) is I could not let someone else do bedtime routine with her. After all they didn’t know her routine, the little things that comforted her to go to sleep. Her playing with my hair, the song I would sing every night, the prayer I always did with her. She was so attached to me and we both bonded so much during this time that it felt like if I gave it up it would leave her feeling abandoned and would slowly eat away at our connection.
A few times I would try letting Ben put her down, this almost always ended with tears for her and it tortured me. My heart physically hurt. Ben and I would make a plan to break the old routine of Aubrey only wanting me. This plan would last one night of me hearing her and then I would find reasons why I should be doing it. And I missed it. There is something really bonding and special about the time when you hold your child as they drift to sleep.
In hindsight I feel a bit bad that I robbed Ben of getting to have the same experience I did. He really missed out on that part of Aubrey’s first year. And now we have a bigger problem of her wanting no one but me, and sometimes Grandma Jackie.
So, as you can see there were signs of the anxiety. But I think for the most part I did a really excellent job of hiding it. Well maybe not from my mom. But everyone else would never have known what I went through most days.