So, living with anxiety.

So here we are. My anxiety is so much better than of course it once was. I was anxious about a lot of things to do with Arthur. My biggest fear, now and then, is Sudden infant death (SIDS or Cot death) as it’s also known. It haunts me. When I first became ill I use to watch Arthur sleep. I would continuously check if he was still breathing, if he felt too hot or too cold.

I remember one time, we were doing skin to skin whilst feeding and he just kept moaning, coming on and off the boob and I didn’t know what was wrong, I was sure he was hungry. I didn’t realise he was too hot. I took him away from my body and realised he was all sweaty and clammy. The guilt I felt. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt. I become so scared of doing skin to skin after that, convinced he was too at risk of becoming too hot from my own body heat.

Another big fear of mine is Arthur being around smoke. However some of my closest family members smoke, when I’m around them, I am very anxious still, it’s constantly on my mind but I’ve learnt to control it, to live with it, to almost be at peace with it.

I remember when I was pregnant we were at a breastfeeding class and we were saying the pros and cons for breastfeeding (although it didn’t really matter because the midwives were all pro breastfeeding and it almost felt like there were convincing/ pressuring us, but that’s a whole another story). Anyway I said about how breastfeeding was a positive to help prevent SIDS, the midwife said, “Yes but something that we’ve learnt from research is the biggest risk is smoking. They need to be kept away from smoke.” I’ll never forget it. (Mum if your reading this I know why you do it, and I know you’ve tired to stop, I understand, this isn’t to make you feel guilty).

The point is, that’s what my anxiety is about. I remember little things that have been said to me and I become, almost obsessed with them. They go round and round my mind and I never forget them. SIDS is such an evil thing. I still stay up some nights and just keep checking Arthur is okay. It’s one of those things where we know how to minimise the risk, but we can never eliminate it completely. Sometimes it just happens. It makes me so angry that we live in world where this can just happen for no reason at all.

I don’t let Arthur stay in the car seat for longer than two hours. Sometimes he unfortunately has been in there a little bit longer, when it has been inevitable, if it’s very late at night for example and there’s nowhere really safe to stop. But I do become very anxious. I sit in the back with him and keep my eye on him. Because I know the guidelines say they shouldn’t stay in the car seat for longer than 2 hours. It’s bad for their back, more importantly it restricts their airway because of the position their in. I think about this all the time when in the car. But now, I know if it’s getting too much, I need to take a deep breath and look out the window. I can hold Arthur’s hand whilst he sleeps. I can listen to the radio and chat to Jord. I know how to distract myself.

I don’t think I will ever overcome my anxiety around SIDS. I have read the guidelines more than I can remember. I know them off by heart. Sometimes I feel like too much information can do more harm than good. But I know they have to provide us with this information. I used to be so scared about leaving Arthur even to go to the toilet. I would ask somebody to watch him whilst I peed…it would take around a minute for me to do this…a minute?! I just couldn’t let my guard down even for a second. I used to sit somewhere where I could constantly see him. He had to be in my view or I would panic.

Now I am certainly more comfortable and relaxed about Arthur sleeping (most of the time). Often I can hear him. I know when he’s too hot or too cold. He shows me, he tells me. I let him sleep next to me sometimes but I know myself and I trust myself that I wouldn’t fall asleep. Everything is a bit more calmer. A bit more, okay I know my son, I know he will tell me if something is wrong, and I know when something is wrong. Time to relax a little.

I’ve come a long way from where I was. Which shows anyone else can too. It’s still with me and I think it always will be. Even when Arthur isn’t an infant anymore I think I will find something else to feel anxious about. But there’s a big difference from then and now. I don’t stop it from letting me live. I don’t let it beat me. I don’t let anxiety overcome my happiness, my enjoyment of motherhood. I don’t let it win.

Stay tuned for the next one peeps.

Love, Kate. X

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