Overcoming Pregnancy Fears

Before I was even pregnant, I'd randomly burst into tears over fear of miscarriage. As a woman in her mid-twenties who's wanted nothing more than to be a wife and mom her whole life (but especially hardcore since I was eighteen), I couldn't imagine anything worse happening to me. And I've been through some doozies in my young life. But I'd seen friends go through miscarriage, and my heart ached for them...and grew weeds of fear for myself.

If you know me or have read this blog, you know my husband and I went through nineteen months of infertility before we finally conceived our little boy. Most of those nineteen months were the worst months of my life. Finally, after over a year of trying for a baby, we asked our pastor if the church could pray for us. When they laid hands on us and prayed while the pastor was praying, he said something like, "There's a fear you guys have, and I don't know if it's a fear of how finances will work out or if you'll be good parents or what..." And then I didn't hear the rest because my heart was beating in my ears. I did have a fear. A fear of my baby dying.

I called our pastor the next day and thanked him for praying for us, and then, through tears, told him about my fear. He suggested I see a counselor who goes to our church, so I called her right away and set up an appointment.

During the two sessions I went to, we did something called "emotional release" through a technique called "muscle tapping," I think. You can look it up because I'd do a pretty terrible job of explaining how it all works. Basically, it's a way to identify trapped emotions in the body and then release them so you aren't carrying around the negative energy in your body. It might sound a little new-agey or weird, but it worked and really helped me. Along with the emotional releasing, the counselor gave me some advice that helped a ton:

M's first picture!

1) Be wise about how I take care of my body and eventually my baby, but don't fret over every single choice. Eat well. But don't panic if I have a piece of pie with all it's sugar and hydrogenated oils. (I used to ave major food guilt. If I ate something bad, I'd think, "What if I just ruined my shot at having a baby?" I once ruined a nice time with family by bursting into loud, gulpy tears and saying, "I'd rather have a baby than a cookie!" when they tried to coax me into having some goodies. If I had those thoughts then, what would it have been like to have those thoughts while pregnant--and with cravings? I can't even imagine the anxiety.)

2) Where we put our thoughts is what we believe in our hearts and what we accept in reality. So if I were to always think about the negative, I would believe more in the negative than the positive. Instead, I should believe what God says is true. Dwell on His goodness and believe with the authority He's given me. (That's not to say that if something bad happens, you didn't believe right or have enough faith.) So believe I would get pregnant and would not have a miscarriage. 

3) Follow the Holy Spirit's guidance. If I feel led to do something or pray or speak something over my baby, do it. He protects us.

4) But, inevitably, death does happen. Sometimes the timing and circumstances are terrible. If you believe in Jesus, that's not the end. She told me to look at it as a loved one having moved far away, to another country, and one day, I'll go see them in that country, but right now, space separates us.

Putting all of that into practice helped me a ton. We got pregnant, and I haven't had that much anxiety during this pregnancy. I've had some, to be honest. A handful of times. Once shortly after I started feeling my son's kicks, and then I didn't feel him much one day, and I just burst into tears while my family was over. Another time when I was at a party, and a lot of people were smoking cigarettes. I worried the whole way home, sobbed, and asked my husband if he thought our baby would be okay and was I a bad mom for not leaving the party? A couple times (including this morning) when I woke up to no movement for a while, and I worried that I accidentally slept on my back and cut off my baby's oxygen or something. And, yeah, there's been a little food guilt now and then.

But I cut off these thoughts pretty quickly. And I speak life instead. I choose to believe that the life of God flows through me and my baby and because of God's protection, nothing can touch us. And then I remind myself of what might be the most helpful thing of all:

I can't control everything. Disaster might come tomorrow. If it does, I'll grieve tomorrow. But right now? Today? Today my little boy is giving me big boy kicks. Today I felt him hiccup. Today we're both healthy and alive. So I'm going to enjoy that and not let fear spoil any of it.

Just like any person in our lives, we could lose our little ones. Miscarriage is common. It's sad and it matters and it's common. Stillbirth happens. It's sad and it matters and it happens. Same with SIDS. And then once your baby's not a baby anymore, there's still risk because any sort of unexpected illness or tragedy can strike at any age. But we can't dwell on that because dwelling on that robs of us the blessing of our kids right now. Not to mention, the stress isn't good at all for our babies. (Now don't start stressing that you're stressing.)

God forbid, but if I lost my baby tomorrow, as devastated as I would be, I would take comfort and joy in the fact that we enjoyed what days we had together. That I laughed when he stuck his foot out under my ribs. That I read him stories and sang him songs. That I planned for his arrival because I hoped for him. That I told him every day how loved and precious he is. That's something to hold onto and cherish. Fear is not. Celebrate the life given instead.

My boy! (Image property of Her Arms Are Strong)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

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