Friday, 14 July 2017

Getting serious for a sec - Anxiety in early pregnancy

TRIGGER WARNING: If you suffer from anxiety – especially anxiety about medical issues/ fertility/ pregnancy – I would not recommend reading this post, or if you do please be aware that all the issues described were my own anxious thoughts and not a reality and I give advice that worked for me on how to ease these anxieties.

I have been slowly working on and adding to this post from around pregnancy week 15, I am now 23 weeks and feel like it is a good time to share - I may add / edit later!

I wouldn’t really consider myself an anxious person (tense & emotional yes), I definitely experience anxious times, as many people do, and occasionally my thoughts/ fears can be overwhelming, but compared to people I know/ know of I definitely don’t suffer from anxiety. And I am able to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ or know that good times will roll around again. So whenever I found out I was pregnant, I was surprised to find exactly how anxious I suddenly became.

Of course, pregnancy, perhaps especially a first pregnancy is an anxious time for most parents to be, and I expected that I would be a little preoccupied and maybe more worried than normal about things, but I found my anxiety in the first few weeks almost suffocating.

I was convinced that things were too good and something had to go wrong, almost ‘this happened to easily, there needs to be a twist’, ‘most things in life aren’t straight forward, why is this?’ and those types of thoughts.


The Laparoscopy/ Endometriosis Fear:

I have experienced on-again-off-again pain near my left ovary for a few years now, and last year (2016) I had an investigative laparoscopy operation to find out whether the cause of this was endometriosis.
This was the last time that I experienced this type of overwhelming anxiety – I became convinced in the weeks leading up to the op that there was something terribly wrong with me that ultrasounds hadn’t picked up, amongst these fears; 'I have cancer', 'a ruptured ovary', 'a twisted ovary', 'a growth', 'an ectopic pregnancy', 'no ovary at all'… all these thoughts went round and round in my head, and on top of every one of them was ‘You might not be able to have children.’
– these thoughts really took over my head for weeks, every time I saw a child/ baby/ pregnant woman/ baby advert etc. I felt like crying or going and curling up in a dark room. And despite all of this fear about what else could be wrong I was 100% convinced I had endometriosis – which sadly can also affect fertility.

The GREAT news for me was that they didn’t find any evidence of endometriosis, and that my ovary ‘looked healthy’ which I was totally shocked about. The consultant said she believe the pain is caused by a digestive problem (perhaps an intolerance or mild IBS) and while they couldn’t totally rule out endo there was no sign of it.

I still experience the pain occasionally, but a lot less frequently and severely than before, which makes me wonder whether some element of it was psychosomatic, or stress/ anxiety related (writing about this experience and rethinking the feelings and thoughts, I can now feel the mild pain around that area niggling at me)


Finding out I was pregnant - Anxiety, Sleep and Early Scan

 After I found out that I was pregnant, we were so happy and pleased, but I was also SO anxious and the ovary pain reared its ugly head… I sat awake most nights for the first 5-6 weeks thinking about everything that could go wrong, pregnancy problems in my family history, the ovary pain, and became sure that the pregnancy was ectopic. I honestly slept less than 3 hours a night for about 6 weeks. I spoke to my GP and she was very understanding and immediately offered to send me for an ‘early scan’ – which I had read can be very hard to convince a Dr to refer you for, even if you had previous pregnancy problems or miscarriages – and we had the scan at around 8 weeks. Of course the baby was miniscule at that point, and we knew they would only be able to tell us the bare minimum information – but we saw that it was in the right place and I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off me, a real almost physical wave of relief. The midwife then told us she could see a teeny tiny heartbeat and we couldn’t believe it. I've never felt so lucky in my entire life, and I doubt I ever will again.


My one biggest piece of advice on anxiety in early pregnancy is – if you are anxious, really worried or concerned – ask your Dr to send you for an early scan – no matter what happens at least you will know and not have to wait until around 3 months for your first ‘proper’ scan. If your Dr is reluctant to send you for an early scan, in many places here in the UK there are private clinics you can go to and pay for a one off scan. This usually costs less than £100 – if you can afford it, do it, just for your peace of mind.

That's all for now, I plan to blog more throughout my pregnancy butI felt like now that I am further on I should share just how anxious I was in those early weeks, because others might be feeling the same way and I know that reading a post from someone feeling similarly to I did would have helped me a lot in those sleepless nights and nauseous days!

Lindzi x

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