My husband and daughter are about an hour away, learning all the cool things that come with being part of an outdoor education club.
Instead of hanging out with friends and sipping on a cinnamon mocha, I’m inside my house, NOT cleaning, not doing anything but panicking.
I am terrified I’m going to lose either one or both of them.
More than likely, they haven’t even thought about me for one second (as it should be…archery, shelter building and making fires are WAY more fun) but here I am, dwelling on the fact that I’m not with them.
What if they get into a car accident? What if one of them gets injured? What if my daughter wanders off in the forest and we never find her?
Instead of cleaning our bomb of a house, I’m checking my phone every 2 minutes and trying not to bug my husband overly by text.
Growing up, I wasn’t entirely in tune with how fleeting life was. It wasn’t until we were trying (desperately) for a baby that we finally understood just how truly precious it is. When our daughter was born, I was incredibly happy but incredibly scared at the same time.
It wasn’t just remembering to water plants or pay bills anymore; there was a little girlie who depended on us being there and making sure she was taken care of at all times. She needed me desperately for everything…and I needed her.
My identity is intrinsically wrapped up in my daughter: I am a wife, daughter, and friend, yes, but my primary role right now is Mama.
Anxiety is pretty much the bread-and-butter of parenting.
However, I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one scared out of my wits at losing my daughter and feeling guilty about how anxiety plays out as I parent her.
I asked about this worry in a Facebook group for parents of one child that didn’t choose the ‘triangle family’ life and got all sorts of answers, but many with the same thread.
“I’m petrified when my son isn’t with me. I am in counseling to help with my anxieties with his medical diagnosis, infertility and having an only.”
“I went through 2 disastrous rounds of IVF before moving on to DE. I had two major miscarriage scares in my first trimester and my anxiety reached a whole new level. I do feel that everything I went through has made my anxiety worse, even four years later.”
“I hate to admit it, but my husband and I tend to be helicopter parents. I’m not sure if this stems from the fact that it took us four years and a few losses to get here or because our daughter has life-threatening food allergies that govern many parts of our lives.”
”I LOVE when my husband takes my son to the cottage for a few days without me. Life is too short to worry…Gives me time to relax.”
“Helicopter here. Our first died during delivery at 38 weeks. I don’t know what’s normal, but I’m pretty sure it’s not me. I have vivid nightmares of my youngest/only dying. I know exactly how it would feel and has a direct impact on my parenting.”
“People act as though you can just place an order for children like one does for clothing. I know differently. Frequency doesn’t change the miracle that it is. I fear losing her.”
“…my fears [over the state of the world] don’t stop me from letting her explore and fail and learn. On the other hand, my concerns about society, in general, is what makes me overly cautious about what classes I put her in, who I trust enough to leave her with…”
“I do tend to worry more than I think I would if I had not experienced losing our first son.”
“I do not tend to get upset about leaving her… I really value my alone time to recharge and put better quality effort into parenting afterward… That seems to help my mental balance.”
“Absolutely, I do have anxiety and I take medication for it, but I still have to fight worrisome thoughts…in the back of my head there is always ‘you thought things were fine before and look what happened…’”
These answers are a balm to my overly-anxious soul.
I want to scream from the rooftops: I AM NOT ALONE!!
With all the negative connotations surrounding ‘helicopter parenting’ that we hear in the news, and with my heightened alert to it having an only child (and desperately NOT trying to hover… damn, it’s hard!), I get why no one talks about this anxiety over a child dying.
I feel like because I have seen five out of six of my pregnancies not end in a healthy child, that this might be my ‘normal’.
However, I sincerely, SERIOUSLY hope it isn’t.
This feeling of not being in control doesn’t feel right, I’m not going to lie.
I feel like I should be able to let my daughter spread her wings (and I do, trust me) without biting the inside of my cheek as I smile while watching her being her dare-devil self.
The irony is that while I’m filled with fear and worry, she is a kid who we affectionately call a ‘hold-my-beer’ child.
She’s constantly doing things that seem designed only to see how high she can get my blood pressure.
People, this kid tried to sweet talk her way into being allowed to bungee jump at the high-ropes course she did this summer… at age 7!!
She and her big cousin are already making plans to sky-dive on my daughter’s 16 birthday.
God help me when she does get her driver’s license because she’s all about speed.
My psychologist, Brad, and I talk about this whole parenting thing a lot.
Especially as to how the trauma people go through alters their parenting and how not to let it dominate.
It is DAMN HARD to try and turn off my ‘panic button.’
I feel like most days I’m fighting through it and winning, but on days like today, there is not enough chocolate ice-cream in the world to make this better.
I accept that, try to keep myself occupied and smile and wave as they leave. Inside though, I am a wreck.
One person said this on Facebook, and it resonated with me:
“I do think I feel more anxiety in motherhood than I did prior to pregnancy loss and secondary infertility. It’s that feeling of the ‘I never thought this would happen to me’ situations becoming your reality again and again, and you realize that human life is not a guarantee, bad things happen to *ME*, and then the panic can set in.
I’ve gone through it in waves over the past couple of years. I might have an anxious day here or there now, rather than it being a constant.”
I have no pat answers for how to combat this.
I know that some people chose therapy, medication, yoga, running, knitting…or writing.
Whatever you choose, if you choose at all, the only thing I can say is Well Done You for even acknowledging that you know this about yourself, that you do worry about losing your child(ren).
And please, remember you aren’t alone.
Infertility and loss can change us in very profound ways, least of which is how we parent any child(ren) who may come along.
Photo by Hailey Kean on Unsplash
Jill Kawchak is the proud mama to one truly amazing daughter, the wife of a good man, and a companion of a very troublesome Labrador retriever. Her days are spent homeschooling from the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Cochrane, Alberta, where her daughter constantly begs to go exploring. She had always wanted to be a mother and started TTC just after her wedding in 2006. Jill has been diagnosed with PCOS, and was told motherhood would be a difficult goal to attain, but after 3.5 years of infertility with one early loss, the clouds parted, and the sunshine that was a little girl with blue eyes and brown curls broke through. However, in the years since her daughter arrived, there have been another 4 early losses. After *much* debate, angst and tears, Jill and her husband, Mark, have decided to end their fertility journey and are now focused on ‘what comes next’. She writes to keep sane, and support those who are also experiencing infertility and baby loss.