Ever since my 9-week freak out, I have down a good job of reining in the crazy. At my last ultra-sound, I was much more excited to see the growth then nervous. I am increasingly confident that this pregnancy will actually result in a baby. And then my pregnant co-worker started telling me about her anxieties and the person she knows who went into labor at 16 weeks and then someone else who went into labor at 18 weeks and a story she just read about a baby being born at 22 weeks and still fighting to live. Damn her.
I had somehow convinced myself that if I could make it to 10 weeks and then the first trimester that I would be in the clear. Now she's put these little seeds of doubt in my mind.
When I read that others around my same gestational age are feeling sensations of their little one, despite the fact that most books say it's completely normal not to feel anything yet, I begin to feel nervous. When I gain weight I get upset that I'm gaining too quickly, but if I don't gain weight then I start to wonder if its because the baby is no longer growing.
Anxiety is a funny thing. It has this way of starting out as a small seed and then taking root and growing quickly out of control.
On a daily basis, I hear about the anxieties of children and teens. I have heard fears and worries that many people would have difficulty comprehending. An astroid is going to hit the earth and kill us all. What if I am buried alive? My stomach aches are actually cancer. If I don't wear this one pair of underwear every day, something bad will happen. Santa and Mickey and Chuck.E.Cheese are all evil and will hurt me. If I don't pick out just the right outfit, no one at school will talk to me and I will not have any friends. If my mom leaves on a work trip, she will never return.
I don't have these worries, but I do understand them. I get it. Take something with a small grain of truth or a minuscule possibility of occurring and then give it some validity. With a little exaggeration and a little ignoring of base-rates and probabilities, these semi-truths and possibilities become facts and certainties. And our creative brains are fantastic at exaggeration and ignoring statistical odds, creating the perfect cesspool for growing and nurturing anxiety.
One of the reasons I think I'm good at what I do because I can relate. Because often kids and teens have the realistic part of their brain telling them that these anxieties are absurd and that they are crazy, and having an adult understand and empathize can be powerful. Then, after we understand how these seemingly ridicules fears come to be in a very honest way, we can work together to change them. Call out the exaggeration. Return to facts.
The fact is that a very large majority of pregnancies that survive into the second trimester go on to become healthy infants. The fact is the not feeling a baby at 16.5 weeks is perfectly normal, and it may be another month or so until I feel anything, especially since I began this journey in the "overweight" category. The fact is that my weight fluctuates up to 2 pounds in a day or two, so gaining or losing a pound is not a significant revelation. Reliable sources say that gaining or losing 5 pounds in a week or two is something to take notice of, but this has never occurred.