Anyone who’s ever looked to bring a little more calm into their lives will tell you it’s not the easiest thing to achieve. There are breathing exercises, mindfulness mantras, apps to help you relax; even with all of these, it can still be a challenge. I know this because I am one of those people who was always looking for the magic formula to get myself to calm the hell down.
By nature, I’m a worrier. Worrying tricks me into feeling productive. Always thinking about what’s next and how to attack any potential problems that may arise makes me feel pseudo-prepared. The only flaw in this trait is that I’m not a fortune teller. More often than not, what I end up doing is giving myself anxiety about things that will never happen.
As you can imagine, this personality trait was especially a treat when I found out I was pregnant. Take an experience I’d never had before (pregnancy and motherhood), mix that with the high-stakes reality of bringing a whole other human into the world — one that I’d need to love, protect and provide for — and add the fact that I have the ability to worry about everything, and you’ve got the recipe for a very stressful situation.
That’s what the first few months of my pregnancy were like; stressing about everything. Where we would move for our growing family, what I would do for work, managing that transition while pregnant, finding the right doctor, realizing that black women have more difficult pregnancies, creating a realistic financial plan and, of course, the physical changes that come with growing a tiny human.
It was after a crying panic attack that I called my mom, finally admitting how overwhelmed I was, when she gave me advice that would change my whole perspective: “This stress is not good for the baby. She feels everything you feel.”
Coming from an old-fashioned Caribbean woman, the advice was so simple. Something about it just clicked. I was doing all this worrying to prepare for my baby, not realizing that the worrying itself could have a negative impact on her. Immediately after that call, I worked on some breathing exercises and ate a bowl of noodle soup. I spoke to my partner and decided that for the rest of my pregnancy I would do my best to find peace with what was happening in the moment, rather than worrying about what might-could-possibly go wrong. I had to find a way to be calm for her. For both of us, really.
Instead of jumping ahead to an unknown future, I worked on our new home. I spoke to friends and family members whose support made me feel like I’d be OK, no matter what. I found ways to save more money. I looked up nursery decor ideas. I took maternity classes. I researched what she would need and began shopping for little things that would prepare me for her arrival: cozy blankets to practice swaddling, soft onesies to keep her warm for her fall birthday, and Pampers Swaddlers that would be gentle enough for her newborn skin.
Changing my worrying ways wasn’t easy, but every time I found it happening, I’d picture my little girl’s feet in a pair of teeny-tiny socks, her gummy, dribbly smile or how it’d feel to have her wrap her hand around my finger. Picturing her, it wasn’t hard to start loving the change from a restless worrier to someone who could focus on what really mattered, which is making the best of the present.
This post is sponsored by Pampers.