’Hello Anxiety, how are you today?’
I’m listening to a meditation app on speaker phone. The baby is lying on my lap having finally stopped crying and fallen asleep. I’ve been hunched over my phone…GOOGLING. My typical searches…
’Why is baby crying today?’
’9 weeks and won’t stop crying.’
’I want baby to stop crying.’
Each search has unearthed a wealth of scenarios. The baby has chronic colic. Is allergic to cats/milk/me/the house. The washing detergent is poison. There is silent reflux (which sounds very ominous). I visit a baby forum – each Mum is hysterical and NONE have any answers. One Mum has helpfully written – ’I heard of this baby once and it never stopped crying for over a year and a half.’
I am not sure what will happen if this baby does not stop crying for a year and a half.
’I sometimes want to throw my baby out the window,’ a Mum told me in a recent baby group.
The other Mums looked half horrified/ thrilled by this idea. A couple laughed so hard that tears rolled down their cheeks (I notice this with new Mums- there is a fine line between laughter/tears). I step away from Google. I want to run away from the baby. I’m trying the meditation app instead.
’Hello Anxiety,’ the voice says.
’Hello Anxiety,’ I repeat.
This distancing from your emotions is helpful. I feel the knot in my stomach loosening. I’m breathing again. Before children I didn’t know what anxiety was. I got butterflies before a big presentation. Headaches. The Sunday night dread. Then my first daughter arrived. The combination of no sleep and the responsibility AND a massive life change created the perfect storm. I tried to run away. I got up in the morning and dragged the baby to a baby group. Then a cafe. Then another group. Then the park. I talked to everyone about my woes- these were usually breastfeeding related. The moment I saw my partner I continued. Then resented the fact that he looked bored (it was usually things like ’I have given her two ounces I think but then she had another four ounces half an hour later. What do you think that means?”). Then my daughter got bigger and the anxiety subsided. It slunk away into the shadows like a dangerous killer beast.
The voice on the app is soothing. I wonder whether this lovely American woman suffers from anxiety. Probably not. I put the baby down (she will wake in approximately 2.5 minutes as I’m no longer holding her) and lie on the floor and put my legs up the wall. Apparently this is good. The anxiety is back again. My second daughter was born and it lay in wait for 9 weeks. An episode of heavy crying. feeling super-tired, overwhelmed, guilty at the lack of time I was spending with my other child, the dark nights stretching on and on…well it was only natural it would return.
This time I’m too tired to get out all the time. I am also aware that THERE ARE NO ANSWERS to the questions. Babies are beautiful bastards. They do what they choose. They answer to noone. They tip the apple cart right over. I’ve also learnt that GOOGLE IS NOT MY FRIEND. Advice from other people is not my friend . Caffeine is not a friend.
There are different levels of anxiety and mine is mild.
I lost my Step Mum to post-natal depression. I lost my half-sister and she was only five months old. I know that strange things happen to your brain. I chant over and over ’this phase will pass.’ I listen to meditations. I put my legs up the wall. I do what I have to. It’s work of sorts.
’You are not your thoughts,’ the voice says.
’I am not my thoughts,’ I repeat.
My future self smiles…she sits on a park bench watching her two daughters argue over a scooter. A parrot sings overhead.