Parental Separation Anxiety
38 weeks and 2 days, that is how long I carried Amelia inside of me. I felt her hiccuping in my tummy, her head poking up from just underneath my ribs. I sang to her, I rubbed her head and I vowed to always be there for her.
It has been over 60 weeks since I held her in my arms for the first time. Over a year of watching her grow into the beautiful, intelligent, independent girl she is becoming. Still singing to her, stroking her head and always there for her.
I think it was inevitable that I would struggle with some form of anxiety after having Amelia. I spent my whole pregnancy on edge, worrying about her, praying that she would be safe in my tummy and her birth would be smooth. Up until the moment I held her in my arms I was convinced something would go wrong. Which I like to think is perfectly normal…especially after experiencing two miscarriages.
However the safe arrival of my gorgeous little girl (who actually was healthier than me postnatally) didn’t stop my anxiety. Then I ended it up hospital overnight when she was 7 weeks old, thinking that I was going to die. Everything then escalated slightly – some days are better than others and I put up a pretty good smoke screen (I think).
It took me a while to realise the constant trips to the toilet and feeling sick all the time didn’t mean there was something physically wrong with me more mentally. I reverted back to my old eating habits and blamed it on having a little one and not having the time – when really Amelia (up until 9 months) was a champion sleeper and I had plenty of time to eat. These symptoms slowly progressed into me feeling constantly tired – I was physically and mentally drained and the thing I felt most anxious about was leaving Amelia alone. For most of her life she has come everywhere with me and the older she got the more people questioned it.
‘When are you going back to work!’ ‘Have you and James been out together yet’ were just two questions I got asked a lot. Question like this would send me into a spiral of anxiety and it actually reached a point where I was having nightmares about leaving Amelia and then something either happening to myself or her.
It’s surprising how something which may seem so trivial can escalate. I probably haven’t even truly opened up about how bad I felt during this period of time – it’s something I struggle to put into words.
Eventually when Amelia was around 9 months I sought out help for the way I had been feeling which I am happy to say has had a really positive impact – but there is still work to be done and I think it is something I will always struggle with.
You hear so much about babies struggling with separation anxiety but you don’t hear much about parents struggling! The people I would leave Amelia with I completely trust so that wasn’t the issue. It was my own internal demons that I struggled to get past!
I’ve spent hours trying to work out why I felt the way I did. I feel that having type one may be partly to blame as unfortunately it is a condition which can have consequences no matter how well controlled you are and now I have Amelia I worry about this even more. I’ve always worried about my diabetes which is probably why I check my blood sugars too much according to my Diabetes team and leave myself sleep deprived a lot. So now I have Amelia and like every parent want to enjoy watching her grow and be there for her – the thought that my Diabetes may take that away from me is horrifying. You may think I am being a drama queen and maybe I am, but unfortunately Diabetes can be life threatening. It’s a fear I live with daily – a reason why I don’t like going to bed angry with someone.
Another reason I can think of is my miscarriages. After my second one I convinced myself I probably wouldn’t be able to have children. Obviously I was wrong because I’ve got a beautiful toddler! She is my miracle that I wished for everyday during a gloomy period of my life.
But sometimes there is no point in dwelling on what has caused it too much. As you end stuck in a rut of self loathing, self blame and feeling guilty. I wouldn’t wish those feelings and thoughts on anyone but like anything I feel it’s made me a stronger person and I’ve learn skills on how to cope with my emotions.
Nearly 5 months after I first sought out help for how I was feeling and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some days the light is a bit dimmer than others but I’ve been blessed with an amazing support network who have my back.
And of course I have my own personal ray of sunshine with me daily – my girl☀️