Anxiety… If you know, you know.
I have always been the strong one. Maybe some would call it cold-hearted, but I would rather use the word strong. Being the youngest of 5 kids with immigrant parents from Iraq, I have seen a lot of scary and sad things. That isn’t to say I am not extremely blessed, but it is just to point out that I have seen some shit.
My strength never wavered as I held my sister as her heart stopped & had to be revived… or when I had to talk my mother with her lopsided face as she had a stroke right in front of me. I did not cry. I have never been scared of dying. I have always been strong.
And then I had kids…
You can say they “cracked” me or that my brain changed or whatever, but I am no longer the person I was before I got pregnant with Noah. The moment I found out I was pregnant, anxiety and fear rushed into my body. I wouldn’t call it postpartum depression, because it is not that. I have been reflecting a lot on what it is, and I think it is a few things.
- It is instinct.There is a maternal response (a spike in oxytocin) to keep our babies safe. Human babies are some of the only species in the world that are born with essentially no survival skills (as an evolutionary trade-off for having highly developed brains). If mother’s (even non-biological) weren’t wired to nurture our babies, they would not survive.
- When I die, my legacy will be my children. I am not a genius or a famous musician. I did not start some incredible company. My kids will be a huge part of what ‘I’ve contributed to this world.’ I don’t need them to be famous or get into Harvard, but I want the product of my work here on this earth to make them into good, happy people. That is a lot of pressure on my kids and it isn’t fair, but I can’t help but think about how I will feel on my deathbed if I have failed my kids.
- I have something to live for. I have always loved my family and Aryan so much. However, they never needed me to teach them and grow. They needed me as a parallel companion. My kids need me though and that is terrifying. How will they learn all of the things if I am not here to teach them?
- Letting go is hard.From the moment you give birth to leaving your child with a babysitter to sending them to school to all of life’s other big moments, you are constantly letting go. You are always one day closer to letting go… further and further. The child that your body carried for 9 months will no longer need you and that is simply horrifying.
So, I have anxiety now. I have 4 sisters (including in-laws) who have carried children and I see the anxiety they each carry and manifest in different ways. My siblings and I are old now, and I see my mom carrying the burden of our sadness. I see my sick sister grasping on to my niece for dear life to soak up every moment she can. My nephew is grown now, but every time my sister moves him in to a new place, she breaks down. My other sister worries about her every move as it could hurt her unborn baby.
Knowing this feeling is forever is as equally terrifying as it is comforting. I am glad to know I am not alone; I am not crazy. Being a mom is hard in ways I could have never imagined… Those late-night feedings seem like a cake walk for what’s to come. But damn it is all SO WORTH IT!