Fear can be such an all encompassing emotion. It also has a way of making you feel all alone in it.
Fear also has an ugly way of sneaking up on you in times you thought you had moved past it. I had done all the right things to let go of the fear I held from my first postpartum but when it came time for pushing with my second baby ALL of that fear came flooding back- and it was intense.
Sometimes fear is a loud roar and other times its a constant, soft whisper. Sometimes it's rational, other times it's not. Fear can wear many faces. It looks a little different. I find, however, that many moms carry the same fears surrounding childbirth and parenting. They just manifest themselves a little differently.
When I took a pregnancy test and knew I was officially pregnant with my daughter, I was hysterical. They were not happy tears. I was absolutely terrified at the idea of going through what I had gone through again. Fears of anxiety, depression, failing my child, rage, marriage struggles, all the things. I learned to cope some during the pregnancy but I carried that fear. I carried it all the way into my labor.
In the picture beside here, I was at a point in labor where I remember crying out, "I'm scared!" It wasn't of the pushing or the pain. It was of the impending postpartum. My midwife spoke peace over me. I'll forever be thankful for that. In that moment, I finally let go of the fear that had been there for so long.
Your fears are valid but they don't have to define you, and you don't have to carry them alone. You can overcome them. I wish I had a magic answer, but it's a different road to walk for everyone. Just know, you can win. You can overcome your fears. Postpartum can be filled with joy, and you can actually enjoy motherhood- even if you didn't believe that was possible before.
I talked to some moms and came up with a list of common fears in this season of life. Below I'm going to list them- not to frighten you but to encourage you. Sometimes seeing that you are not alone in your fears can be a catalyst for helping you move past them. I want you to see these fears and know that you aren't alone and that you are heard.
- Fear of being a bad mom
- Fear of now knowing how to be a mom
- Fear of having a son because of issues with your own father
- Fear of having a daughter because you don't have a good relationship with your mom
- Fear of not living up to expectations (even if you're the only one who put them on you)
- Fear of raising your children to be bad people
- Fear of doing something that will irreparably harm your child
- Fear of the same birth experience if your first birth was traumatic
- Fear of making the wrong decisions
- Fear of not getting a VBAC
- Fear that it's your first pregnancy
- Fear that it's your last pregnancy
- Fear that you won't love your baby
- Fear that you can't love the second as much as the first
- Fear of pain
- Fear of change in family dynamics
- Fear of what other people will think
- Fear that your body won't work right
- Fear of having to transport if planning an out of hospital birth
- Fear of having a baby roadside/ that you won't make it in time
Good news! We are NOT a slave to our fears. I like to give very practical steps of ways to help handle our emotions so listed below are a few things that helped me.
- Pick a trusted care provider for your pregnancy- a A good care provider does far more than just check your blood pressure and baby's heart tones. They know that pregnancy and postpartum are filled with emotions (a lot of which are really big and new) that we need help navigating through.
- Set up reminders around your daily life- I put painting up in my daughters room as encouragement to help fight against living in such an anxious place with my second postpartum. Seeing them in hard moments helped me remember to give myself grace and breathe.
- Reach out to your friends who have been there- So often I just wanted to know that it was okay that I was scared. You don't need a friend who will just mope with you but a friend who will hear you out and process with you.
- Read Scripture, Meditate, Journal- Words carry a lot of power and can help processing fears. Speaking truth into your life matters.
- Cry- Sometimes a good, gut wrenching cry is really what people need to release. There is absolutely no shame in that.
- Take action steps to make sure you don't fall into your fears again- Choose a VBAC supportive provider. Make a plan for a better postpartum. Set up a vision and goal for your family to break chains of generational bondage (you do NOT have to repeat the mistakes of the family before you)
You can do hard things. Your story can be one of redemption and not one of fear.
I learned to dance with the fear I'd been running from. -Ben Rector
I hope that you too can learn how to dance with fear, and not let fear steal from you all that life has to offer.
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