When You Feel Like a Less-Than Mother

“Lara, I think you’ve lost some weight.”

My mother-in-law’s words were a stake in my heart, though I know they were never meant to be. I finished zipping my jacket over my tiny baby bump. “Really? Maybe it’s just this jacket making it look that way,” I lied.  

She verbalized the fear I had pushed away all week. I’m not gaining the weight I’m supposed to.

Nine weeks into pregnancy, morning sickness came. Though I had not thrown up yet, each morning I was greeted with nausea that stayed with me all day. For most, this would be considered easy—at least you aren’t throwing up everything you try to eat. But for me, the mere thought of vomiting was crippling.

My fears of throwing up are what started my life-long journey of anxiety. After my first experience with the flu as a young girl, the thought of vomiting gave me a visceral reaction.  I would collapse into panic attacks—crying, screaming, sweating, shaking—anytime my stomach began to get that gurgling feeling. This fear became so strong that at times I refused to eat at all so I wouldn’t have something in my stomach to throw up.

The car ride with my mother-in-law was quiet as I nibbled a saltine. This is not what I pictured pregnancy to be like. Pregnancy was supposed to be exciting, full of pleasant surprises and sweet kicks in my belly. Instead, mine was filled with misery—reminders of the anxiety I had yet to conquer 15 years later as a grown woman. I felt like a weak child again, helpless to a fear that still held me in its grips.

God, why can’t I be free from this, even still? I prayed to myself, wondering and questioning with each silent plea: If I can’t conquer this anxiety, am I really ready for motherhood? How will I raise a courageous child, who can trust God in the unknown, meanwhile I still fight against this anxiety?

Momma, are you afraid that you don’t have it “together enough” to be a mom? Do you already feel like a failure when you see the put-together moms around you? Do you look at their perfectly still children sitting in the pews and feel like giving up?

Aside from my fears of throwing up, I have many other reasons to feel like a failure compared to my fellow mom friends. But God is giving me a new hope in him, and teaching me to stop looking around at others and start looking at him.

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