Posted by: emjb | November 28, 2005

Anxiety waltz

It still shows up, the panic, about bedtime. About the first shift for Nathan, I feel it close in on me; a sudden claustrophobia of being alone in a quiet house with the lights dimmed, responsible for the survival of this little person I don’t really know yet. In for a long night, and worse, for an endless series of long nights…a year or more. And I don’t know how I will do it. I see other parents who are worn out but not frightened, and I wonder how they do it. I wouldn’t mind the fatigue so much, but the panicky feeling is making me feel more than a little crazy.

If it doesn’t let up, I guess I’ll need some kind of mild sedative that will calm me down enough to nap without knocking me out so I can’t hear him when he needs me. Or even an antidepressant, which my midwives have already offered to prescribe me. When I’m home again, Matt will help me I know, take his half of the shifts, and that’s good. But only if I can relax enough to let him. Our apartment for me is still the dark, shabby, claustrophobic place I fled for Texas. I need another way to think about it than as a cage; I need this fear to lift.

I know it’s hormonal, or depression related, or what have you, because one of the things I could count on before I was pregnant was feeling fairly confident with babies. I did a lot of babysitting for my family and for pay, including newborns, including long nights. There’s nothing that complicated about diapers and feedings and lost sleep, and eventually, you can adjust to not quite enough sleep and get to know the baby’s patterns, etc. Lots of people do it, it’s hard, but it’s not that hard.

But it seems to me now that the minute I got pregnant, my feelings switched from confidence and longing and joy to free-falling panic. I think I may have been afraid all along, this whole pregnancy, and just didn’t know it until now. I guess it’s dangerous to get what you wish for. And now that he’s here, and it’s all Real, well, the panic is out of its cage and I can’t push it away.

I miss how I felt when we were just trying for a baby; that hopefulness, that anticipation. Where did that go? Why didn’t it hang around? It certainly felt real enough at the time. I didn’t know it would desert me the minute the real thing showed up. Makes me feel like an idiot, frankly. You’d think I’d know myself better than that by the time I was 33. If I’d known I was going to lose my shit so utterly, I might have approached it differently. Or just said, the hell with it, though I’m already attached enough to Nathan that I don’t want to really consider that.

So here I am, typing away in the dead of night when I’d prefer to be napping, because laying down on the bed next to his bassinet makes my heart race and my breath come faster. Until I get really tired, then I keep passing out while trying to hold his bottle at the crack of dawn, until Mom wakes up and rescues me.

I think I am getting better, even though it’s still bad; at least, I can analyze it more, instead of just sobbing while I rock Nathan or lie awake. It can’t get better fast enough for me, though; I want my brain back, and my emotions, and whatever scraps of sanity I can still lay legitimate claim to. That’s why I keep writing here, even if it benefits no one but me.



  1. Your writing is helping me. Thank you.

  2. Of course I’d say this, but meds really can help …
    The nighttime thing only lasted three or so weeks for me — I hope yours is over soon too.

  3. Thanks, roo. That means a lot to me.

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