Consuming feelings swirl around in my mind.
There are nights I am lying awake praying my brain can shut off long enough to get sleep while the baby sleeps.
Internalizing some negative thoughts, putting yourself down, comparing yourself to others–those can cause some anxiety. Lying awake at night wondering if you have upset someone (family, friend, colleague)…sounds like anxiety creeping in.
In our home, this is a daily occurrence as we struggle with the ins and outs of PTSD and anxiety. At times, anxiety brings about some of the biggest insecurities (lack of confidence, problems in relationships, etc.).
Anxiety can trigger anger. A lack of control over emotions, one can get in an “angry fit” by lashing out over something simple like a conversation (this could even be with family and friends).
I can’t say that I have ever felt anger coursing through my veins, but I have certainly let anger control some of my responses and reactions to situations and people.
I can say that I am tying to work on that. Internalizing my feelings is not good for me or those around me (especially my family).
It took a conversation with a dear, sweet friend to realize that over the past few months (you could say about four months or so), I have gone through some traumatic events, major life changes, and adjustments to my overall health (mental health).
My pregnancy with Oliver wreaked havoc on my body and mind. The hospitalizations prior to his birth were exhausting and scary. I was separated from my family which left me feeling isolated and scared. I was anxious about giving birth: would I remember what to do? Would I be able to go to term or deliver early? And the thought of where I would deliver (Carbondale or St. Louis) made me lose sleep at night.
This was not an easy road to travel, and yet I had a lot of folks (loved ones, family members, and friends) traveling with me. Appointments back and forth to Carbondale and St. Louis, trips that I could have made alone, but thankfully did not. Each trip produced a little anxiety about being a mother at an “advanced maternal age.”
Fast forward to May 5, Cinco de Mayo. Looking back now, I think a good, cold margarita and a nice bowl of chips and salsa would have eased some of my fears or anxiety, but instead I was being prepped for surgery, a major surgery that I did not plan on having. My baby was in distress (as was I) and all the anxiety and nervousness came creeping in once again.
A new journey was about to begin, and a new road, path, adventure was about to be traveled with once again, so many. Minutes after Oliver’s birth, Sam and I became NICU parents, Kirsten and Caden became NICU siblings.
Looking back, I am not sure where the emotional energy came from, the endurance to “run the race” so to speak, or the courage to walk in the NICU every single day Oliver was there. I was terrified, scared, worried. I guess you could say I was anxious. I did not know when my baby would be coming home (and I am pretty sure I asked every single day).
I have all the feels. Still. In the short time that Oliver has been home with us we have adapted to life with a newborn. I still have the images of a tiny human hooked up to machines, oxygen, and an IV. I think about my older kids and how this has impacted their lives as well as that of my sweet and loving husband.
You see, the traumas that we suffer can sometimes spill over to the loved ones or family members in our home. I shuffle around the house in a daze at times, sleep deprived and worried about what the next day will bring. I still feel like a dedicated observer in a sense that I missed out on small moments with Oliver during his NICU stay. I still feel like a scared mom starting over even with a 16 year-old and a soon-to-be-12-year-old in the home.
I know that my anxiety over motherhood and returning to work has made me a bit frazzled. My overall health is somewhat better, but the postpartum days have made me a little fragile and anxious. I have been poked in the arm for blood samples more than I care to count, and I “know the drill” when it comes to doctor visits after Oliver.
Anxiety and stress has made me a different person, and if you knew me “pre-pregnancy,” I may not seem that I am the person I was before. I would like to think that I have come out a bit stronger, tougher, perhaps even more of a fighter too.
I still snort when I laugh too hard. Still love a good cup of coffee, a trip to Target. Music soothing me when I am anxious, hugs when I am down, and most recently, a nice glass of wine. I am still down for a Netflix or Hulu binge, and yes, I still think about this blog and writing (even though it seems like forever since my last post).
So, I am learning to have more faith, relax and be in the moment. Trying to enjoy the good company of loved ones, take more pictures of the kids, laugh often, cry less. Life is good. It might be chaotic at times, but this is the good stuff…anxiety and all.