I am a worrier (as opposed to a warrior). Always have been. My mother's a worrier, my brother's a worrier. It's in our blood. But I've never worried more than when I had my first child.
In the hours and days after having my baby, I cried. This is a normal part of childbirth as your hormones go crazy. But at some stage during the days after childbirth and before leaving hospital the tears morphed into worried thoughts of death and dying.
I worried about us having a car crash on the way home from the hospital. Was bubby’s car seat safe enough, did I secure him tightly, or have I secured him too tightly? Will he be safe at home in his bassinet? Is the mattress too soft, or too hard? Is he warm enough? Is he cool enough? All of these thoughts even before we got home.
I worried about him going to sleep and not waking up. I worried about SIDS – was he too hot, did I tuck the blanket too high under his chin, was he going to roll over and suffocate? This continued for months after bubby was born.
Then I started worrying about my husbands well being.
“What if he never came home? Would I be the same mother… would I be the same person?”
Is he going to be okay riding his bike in the mountains or with traffic on the roads? What if he exercised too much and his organs shut down (!), what if he got lost trail running or fell and hit his head and we couldn’t find him. What if he never came home? I would be alone, raising a child without his father. Would I stay in Canberra or go live with my parents again? Would I be the same mother… would I be the same person?
Then I worried about my own death. What if I died? Would my baby know who I was? Would my husband still see my side of the family? What if bubby and I died together – what would my hubby do then? What would my mum do? THEN…… as if that is not enough….. I worried about both of our deaths! Who would bubby live with then? Would he live with family, and which side? Would our friends still see him? It goes on…
“It sent me into a spiral of negative thoughts”
My thoughts are usually triggered by news reports. Children being abducted or murdered, tragic car accidents, drownings, shark attacks! They were triggered when I found out that there were infants aboard the flight MH370. And triggered by My Fifteen Minutes Presents where Canberra’s Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, talked about the 15 minutes that change her life (during her pregnancy she heard on the radio that her partner had been killed in a cycling accident) sent me into a spiral of negative thoughts – clearly due to the parallels in our lives.
It gets so bad sometimes that I have these thoughts almost on a daily basis. Particularly when I’m tired. – which lets be honest with a baby is most days.
“The more I have to be thankful for in my life…the more I am likely to have these thoughts”
Sometimes though my thoughts are a necessary evil as shown when I started organising our wills and guardianship in the ‘unlikely event’ that something should happen to us. But that is the key isn’t it to all these nonsensical thoughts – in the ‘unlikely event’. It seems the more I have to be thankful for in my life, my loving partner, my beautiful baby, the more likely I am to have these thoughts.
I Googled what it means to have thoughts of death and dying. It’s quite common. I discovered it can be a sign of postnatal depression, but it can also be a normal part of being a new mum. For me I know it’s not depression as I don’t have any of the other symptoms. But it is reassuring to know that I am normal and that I am not alone in my thoughts.
Now every time I catch myself thinking of death and dying I employ a bit of cognitive behaviour therapy. I tell myself to stop!! and use mental imagery of a stop sign (sounds silly but it works for me). And I give myself a little ‘talking to’ to point out the ridiculousness of my thoughts, ‘what are you doing, your family a safe, nothing is going to happen to them‘. And it works… I stop thinking about my baby not waking up or my husband not coming home. At least until the next time I see something terrible in the news.
“It is reassuring to know that I am ‘normal’ and that I am not alone in my thoughts”
I know my thoughts are only going to continue particularly as bubby grows up and goes to childcare, school and friends houses – I cringe thinking about all the worries I will have then (yes I worry about worrying too)! But at least I have my handy mental stop sign and a world full of people with the same worries.
Does this sound like you? Please share your thoughts and strategies to overcome your negative thoughts.
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