Growing As An Anxious Mother: My Story of Fear and Motherhood

I stared at the no longer blinking pregnancy test. “What does that say?”

My husband jumped up from the floor and opened his arms to embrace me. “You’re pregnant, babe! We’re going to have a baby!”

He wrapped me in his arms, and immediately my heart and mind both began racing. How can it be? How did it happen so easily? How am I pregnant so quickly? And then, the inevitable thought, What if I miscarry?

This irrational, stomach-churning, obsessive, heart-pounding anxiety was nothing new to me. Since I was a young girl crying in the bathroom terrified to vomit, I have fought the battle of anxiety. 

I thought maybe age would take this beast from my life. It didn’t.

I thought maybe a healthy lifestyle of clean eating and exercise would kill my anxiety. It didn’t.

I thought that when I finally became a truly born again believer my anxiety would be done away with. It wasn’t.

I thought that maybe when my husband slipped that beautiful diamond ring on my finger at the altar, my anxiety would vanish with my singleness. It didn’t.

At 21 years old and pregnant with my first, I expected this beast to be done away with. Yet, I was still like that small young girl in the bathroom, only battling a new kind of fear.

***

The nightmares followed shortly after our positive test. At least once a week I would wake up in bed with tears running down my cheeks and my body covered in sweat. Images of miscarriages and stillbirths haunted me on those nights. 

Daniel sat up next to me and wrapped his arms around me. “It’s okay, honey, it’s okay. It was just a dream.”

I touched my hands to my stomach. “Is my baby okay?”

Rubbing my back, he nodded. “Yes, baby is safe in your belly.”

The nightmares filled the first few weeks of pregnancy, leaving me more exhausted than I already was. And it made the what ifs even harder to face. What if it comes true… How will I cope? What will I do? I was so busy fighting anxiety that I could not find the time to savor.

My eyes burning from tiredness, I stood next to my husband at the sink, mechanically drying the dishes he set in front of me. The sun beams poured on my face from the window as I continued thinking through all the what ifs that could take my baby away.

“I am never going to be able to keep our baby fully safe, fully protected, ever,” I whispered.

Daniel turned to me, a soft smile on his face. Knowing my nightmares, knowing my fears, he replied, “No, you can’t. But God can. God will do what he sees best for our child. God is sovereign and good.”

I wanted that truth to be in my heart. I knew it so well in my mind—I could show you the Bible verses, I could tell you about the character of God, but my heart still fought to cling to these truths.

Each day on from that conversation, I held onto those words. God is sovereign and good. Each time a fear popped into my head, each time a nightmare awoke me from sleep, I told myself, God is sovereign and good. Some days it was through tears, but I would pray, God, help me to believe you are sovereign and good.

Each day was exhausting. Some days rather than fighting the fears themselves, I was fighting against myself. My baby is healthy and fine, why am I filled with constant worries? Grow up and stop worrying! Some days I cried solely out of frustration that I still struggled so deeply with this.

I want to be a good mother. How will I teach my child to love and trust God when I fight to do this myself?

I was tired of fighting. The fight each day was exhausting. It was like going to war with my mind, but no ground was ever being won for my side.

When will it be done? Will it ever be done?

***

I dragged my feet up the stairs to the bathroom to get ready for the day. As I got undressed, I saw red.

“Daniel, there’s blood!”

Daniel came running to the bathroom where I sat sobbing. “There’s blood, Daniel! What do I do?”

He handed me my phone. “Call Melody.”

Melody was my good friend and a mother herself. She would know what to do.

I was greeted by the voice of her husband. I swallowed hard against the lump in my throat. My voice cracked and shook over every word. “Can I talk to Melody, please.”

“Sure.”

A few minutes later Melody answered. “Hello?”

I couldn’t hold back my sobs. “Melody, I’m bleeding.” I sucked in air to finish my sentence. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Okay, I’ll find the prenatal clinic’s number.” She quickly found the number and relayed it off to me while Daniel copied it down.

Before she hung up, she said, “We will be praying. Please call or text us at any time if you need anything.”

I could barely murmur a thank you before hanging up.

We called the clinic, which told us to make our way to outpatients in the hospital. I was already dreading the hour long drive ahead of us.

I kept my hand securely on my husband’s leg for the entire drive as we drove to the hospital. The sixty minute drive was mostly silent, aside from the times when I broke down sobbing, or would look at the clock and ask, “How much longer?”

I couldn’t verbalize any of my thoughts—my tears prevented me. Between my grief and fear for the life of my baby, I fought to cling to God’s truth.

Daniel, in the midst of thick silence, said, “No matter what happens, God is good.”

The hour long drive to the hospital and the ninety minute wait at the hospital for blood work to come back were times of great wrestling. Part of me was desperate to know the results, another part of me wished I could sit in that waiting room forever in denial. I wanted to cling to the hope that this was normal and nothing to fear, but I was also scared of such hopeful thinking. I wanted to comfort my husband, but I didn’t know how to fully comfort myself.

Despite the anguish and turmoil that rolled over in my heart and mind, I forced my heart to hold onto that one phrase Daniel said: No matter what happens, God is good.

The door to our waiting room swung open. The kind nurse who had first heard my case called me. “This way, sweetheart.”

Both terror and relief filled my heart as I walked through the doors and into the little examining room. I was relieved that my wait to know the truth was over, but terrified to hear what that truth was.

The doctor came in and shut the door behind him. His easy posture and kind face helped ease my panic. He brought a stand carrying a computer and a few tools.

“Have you had an ultrasound already for this pregnancy?”

I nodded and told him it was a few weeks ago. “Okay, I’m going to go check those quickly and then I’ll come back so we can do one here.”

As he left, a confusion of feelings filled me. Maybe I would get to see my baby, but maybe I wouldn’t see anything at all.

He came back and set everything up for the ultrasound. I pulled up my tank top and tucked a towel over my jeans. As he gelled my belly and placed the ultrasound probe on me, I turned my head to stare at the cold yellow wall. I didn’t want to see my fears become reality again.

I listened to the seconds tick by on the wall clock. Then the doctor broke the silence. “Oh, look at that, a sweet baby moving in there.”

My heart pounded. I turned my head and whispered, “Really?”

“Yeah, take a look.”

He turned the screen to face me and I watched as a tiny grey figure of a baby moved on the screen. My body trembled as tears ran down my face. “My baby is okay?”

He smiled. “Yes, everything is fine. Your blood test came back with the proper numbers, your baby is the right size, and all looks well inside.”

I wiped away tears and did my best to hold still as he finished up the ultrasound, showing me the baby’s head, spine, and the sweet heartbeat. I watched the screen through glassy eyes, and whispered a prayer in my heart. Thank You, God.

***

That day didn’t end my anxiety. I still struggle against the fears often. But I’ve learned that it’s not about overcoming the fears once and for all, it’s not about ending the battle completely. It’s about being willing to never stop fighting, even when it feels like no ground is being won. It’s about the day by day and moment by moment times of victory, where I learn to rest in God’s truth and find hope in him. And it is knowing that even if I fail in this moment, there’s still the next to try again.