All brewing mothers are nervous about how they will adjust to the challenges of motherhood. Having ADHD and a high tendency towards anxiety doesn't lighten the load of panicky thoughts flowing through my head. As I approach my baby's due date - the anticipation of becoming a mother can, at times, leave me numbed by fear.
As I am writing this I am 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. That means my due date is in 2 days, for those of you not familiar with pregnancy time. To me, the forecast of becoming a mother is a mixed bag of chips – filled with excitement but also a certain amount of anxiety. My impending due date is accompanied by increasingly rising levels of stress. So much so, that I find myself practicing breathing exercises a couple of times a day not to go into full-fledged alarm mode.
Because having the responsibility of another human life truly scares the sh*t out of me. That little voice inside my head is saying “How are you going to take care of a baby – when you can barely take care of yourself?” And honestly, I don’t know. Not being able to find your car keys every morning is a lot less traumatic than not being able to find your baby.
As an unmedicated ADHD’er, I have rigorous routines in place to be able to manage my day-to-day. A few of my “necessary” daily habits include:
• 8 hours of sleep every night
• Adhere to a strict to-do list
• Make sure to get some alone time every day
• Eat at approximately the same schedule every day
I don’t see any of these habits continuing once a newborn is here. But it’s not just the thought of losing my ability to adhere to a strict schedule. I am equally afraid that I will get overly anxious about my baby’s wellbeing. I am afraid that I will buckle under the pressure. And wait… what if I develop postpartum depression like my grandmother?
To be totally honest I am afraid that I will be with my child the way I am with my dog. I hate being away from him for too long. I feel like no one can take care of him the way that I can. Anxiety engulfs me if I am forced to leave him alone for more than a couple of hours (of course I would never leave my baby alone – just putting things into perspective). To be honest what I am most afraid of is myself – I am afraid that I will never feel comfortable leaving this baby and my social life will fly out the window.
I want to be a wonderful mom, but I also want to still be ME! I want to go have drinks with my girlfriends, go on romantic vacations with my fiancé – take a spontaneous spinning class Wednesday afternoon. The thought of my freedom being taken away from me has me feeling strangled, desperately grasping for air. Maybe I suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome? Am I afraid to grow up? Because I am terrified that I will drown under the responsibility of being someone’s mother. Since, let’s face it, this baby does not come with a return slip.
I am a member of a “Woman with ADHD” group on Facebook. I recently posted about my concerns regarding my imminent doom date…. I mean… DUE date! To my surprise, many of my fellow female ADHD’ers had borne similar concerns during their pregnancies. One woman wrote:
“It might sound silly, but I swear that “mom superpowers” kick in as soon as they’re born. I went from needing 8 hours of sleep like you to somehow being able to fully function on a combined 3 hours of sleep at night. Now I’m 20 weeks with our 3rd and still somehow making it all work! You can do it! It’s honestly a huge adjustment at first. It took us at least a week to even begin to figure out some sort of routine. But it can be done, I promise!”
The assurance that so many ADHD women before me have had kids and still managed to survive(and often times thrive) was encouraging. Also, I was reminded of something significant. In all of my worrying, I have completely forgotten that I possess ADHD superpowers. My ADHD allows me to be super intuitive, super creative and best of all, super in any crisis situation. I function well in high-strung situations. So when the baby is crying, I haven’t slept for two days, and the house is on fire – I will be able to handle it. As an added bonus, my fiancé is the most awesome person I know, and I believe his support is going to benefit a lot.
I guess I won’t truly know what it is to be a mother, nor how I will react to the new role until my son announces his arrival. I have to keep reminding myself that worrying too much about my reaction is only going to cause unnecessary stress for my unborn child and me. I am learning to have faith that everything will be alright. If others have done it before me, then I can do it too. Maybe I will even find ways to make my diagnosis work in my favor and become an ADHD supermom!
Facts: About 50 percent of adults with ADHD also suffer from an anxiety disorder. Adult ADHD symptoms that coexist with an anxiety disorder or other disorders may significantly impair the ability to function.