Thursday, October 16, 2014

Motherhood 101: A Crash Course in Anxiety

I don't know about all you other mothers out in Weblandia, but my journey to first-time motherhood went a little something like this:

1. Visit OB for pre-pregnancy check-up to make sure all systems are GO. Instead get told that due to previous history of poly-cystic ovaries (not PCOS), the recommendation is to forgo all attempts at making a baby without medical intervention, begin a regimen of clomid, and ta-da - there will be a baby!
1a. Get furious with doctor for being presumptuous, "fire" him, find a new OB.
2. Visit new OB, wait 5 hours (yes, hours) for doctor who is "running a little behind" to complete initial new-patient exam. Get TVU, identify poly-cystic ovary on one side only, get the run-down on getting pregnant and my options.
2a. Start prometrium followed by femara, see doctor for mid-cycle TVU to check for follicles, get told there are no "good" ones and baby won't happen this time around.
3. Ignore doctor, listen instead to my own body.
3a. September 29, 2007 pee on a stick, immediately see two very dark pink lines, cry, call husband and swear him to secrecy until we make sure everything is "ok" (whatever that means), cry some more.
4. October 5, 2007 start puking, end up in hospital 3 times for hyperemesis gravidarum, puke daily (as in ALL day) until January 26, 2007 2008 (in addition to anxiety, you also become forgetful...and can't proofread, apparently). Also experience excruciating heartburn, car sickness, and near-constant intense hunger and cravings for all things chocolate accompanied by 55 pound weight-gain.
5. Begin having the Braxton Hicks contractions February 18, 2008. End up in hospital a couple of times for monitoring and once for pre-term labor in the antepartum unit (that was fun...).
6. Wake up at 3:30am one morning late in May thinking I was having more Braxton Hicks and told hubby to go on to work. He instead timed my contractions for the obligatory one hour, during which they were barely 5 minutes apart. When he called my OB, she shouted at him to get me to the hospital nearly an hour away (ha...ha...ha, more like 30 minutes that morning). By the time we drove one mile across town to pick up my mom, we were at 2-3 minutes on the contractions. It was GO time for real.
7. Labor takes relatively little time, and then there is a beautiful baby girl and lots of tears, and ANXIETY.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am no stranger to anxiety. We go way back. The thing is, prior to becoming a mother, the anxiety was typically short-lived and centered around things like - why did I think 3 graduate level classes that involve a ton of computer work would be a good idea to complete while 5-9 months pregnant (it was not easy to type laying on my left side while drinking a glass of water...I hate you Braxton Hicks)?
After I became a mother, that all shifted to this tiny little creature that had lived in a protected environment inside me for 9 months. I was ok (most of the time) during the day, but as evening approached the anxiety set in. I felt like I was going to crawl out of my skin. I, I sobbed. I clutched my baby to me as I sat in my sage green marshmallow-fluff glider chair, rocking and crying and praying. I prayed aloud, and it soothed her.

It's been 6 1/2 years, and I hate to break it to you, but the anxiety doesn't get any better. Now there are even MORE things to be anxious about. Truthfully speaking, anxiety is a worthless response as a parent. The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:34 - "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." In other words - don't worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself; there is enough trouble to deal with today.

It's hard, though, not being anxious. It's a first response for me. I try not to even watch the news, because it just gives me one more thing to worry over. There are nights where I feel as if I remain in a twilight-like sleep. I never sleep deeply on those nights, the anxiety hovers above me waiting to consume me, and I wake frequently and pray God will take the anxiety away and allow me to rest. These days it doesn't just happen at night. I worry about my children all day - my daughter more so than my son, simply because she isn't with me all day.

That is all about to change. My original plan, long before the wailing cries of a newborn kept me awake all night, was to homeschool my children (all 4 that I planned to have). They would never know the constraints of sitting at a desk doing busy work day-in and -out. They would know the joy and love of learning that I experienced as a child. Then my daughter grew a little older, and I realized that our personalities were both so strong (and alike) that we butted heads on a lot of things. She is undeniably stubborn (like me), but she is so intelligent and my desire is to cultivate that instead of killing it with boredom.

Last year she insisted on going to public school for kindergarten. I had taught her to read over the summer, and I thought, "Ok, we'll do kindergarten. Then we'll homeschool." Little Miss burst my bubble when she also insisted on going to first grade at "real" school with her friends. I was a little bit on the devastated side of things. After a few weeks of school it was painfully obvious that no one in our house was happy. Mysterious tummy aches every morning, dark circles under eyes, begging to stay home - insisting she didn't have to go to school, bad attitude after school, exhausted and cranky... I could go on. I kept insisting that she couldn't "quit" school because she had to finish what she started, even though my heart was screaming - YAY, homeschool! We could always change our minds next year, start off fresh at the beginning with a second-grade curriculum. As the weeks turned into a month, then two months, I could see there was no real change in the way either of us felt. I desperately wanted her home with me, learning with me, having fun with school instead of being bored. That begs a question...

When is the right time to let your kid drop out of school? I set the deadline for change at the Friday before her fall break. That deadline came and nothing had changed enough to satisfy me. Fall break was glorious (after the first day), and I saw a glimpse of the child my daughter was before she started school last year. She was happy! I started homeschooling my son with Sonlight PK 4/5 six weeks ago, so while my daughter was on fall break she got to witness what homeschool could be like for her. I did some research on my options, and I just couldn't justify paying so much for a curriculum I would only use for half a school-year. There are so many homeschool groups, and I finally found a few that service my area and joined them. Those Facebook groups are how I found out about having homeschool curricula at a discounted rate! Joy of joys!

I had heard good things about ACEs PACEs, so my husband and I decided that would be a better idea to get our daughter through the remainder of her first grade year - Christmas break is going to be our disenrollment date. It was less than half the cost of the Sonlight curriculum, and honestly some of it seems more like kindergarten (maybe just for my kid, though) than first grade. I ordered it. It was delivered today. We unpacked everything, put the binders together, and then we moved on to a 10-months-belated gingerbread house making our dining room table. We ate dinner, the kids got ready for and into bed, I turned on Ludovico Einaudi's Nightbook cd (which is a Godsend, by the way), and when I walked back into the living room and saw the packets of PACEs spread across the floor that useless emotion flooded my body (not for the first time today).

What the HECK was I thinking? This is going to be a disaster. What if my mom is right and we butt heads so much that she ends up HATING me? I couldn't stand it if that happened. I guess it's good this is a trial run...kind of...and that I can always re-enroll her before second grade. Oh, Dear Lord, please tell me this was the right thing to do!

After that mental breakdown, it hit me - WHY am I anxious? Is it the cost? Am I truly afraid my daughter is going to refuse to do her work and then be behind her peers by half a school-year if/when I re-enroll her? Am I disbelieving in my own abilities to teach...even though that is what I went through 6 years of college for? Am I not fully trusting that GOD will be with me each minute of each hour of each day that I spend educating my child?

Anxiety is not 100% useless - sometimes it alerts us to real danger. This is not one of those cases.
Lord God, take this useless anxiety away from me, give me peace and faith that this is Your will. This is going to be an adventure...maybe the second-greatest one of my life. I'm already living my greatest adventure - motherhood. Thank you for blessing me with these wonderful children and trusting me with their care.

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