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Anxiety is getting overwhelming

(11 Posts)
Losgann Wed 10-Jan-18 12:16:25

I am 29 weeks pregnant with first, very very much wanted baby conceived via IVF after unexplained infertility.

For the first few months, I was anxious (particularly around the scan dates) but managed to keep it under control mostly. However, over time it has spiralled completely out of my control to the point that I am struggling with OCD behaviours and terrible anxiety every day that I have done something to harm my precious baby.

My main fear is toxoplasmosis and the fear that I have unwittingly caused serious harm. I actually had a toxoplasmosis test just after Christmas after working myself into a panic over being in France at the very start of my pregnancy and potentially being exposed to something there. I am still waiting for the results of this but since then a couple of other things have happened to make me fear infection - including dropping my keys into a patch of potting soil which had fallen from a pot outside my house, and then realising I had a small cut on my finger which made me terrified I could have caught it this way.

Last night, my husband cooked dinner for us and though he washed some celery, he then chopped it on the same chopping board he had put it, unwashed, first. He said it would be fine as they were being cooked but when we came to eat, it was still quite firm inside. It definitely wasn't as crunchy as if it was raw, but not cooked all the way through. I am so anxious thinking there could have been something in there which wasn't killed by the cooking.

I am struggling to eat generally as I feel very worried about contamination of my food and whether it is 'safe'. I do most of the cooking at home as my husband works long hours and it makes me incredibly anxious every day about touching the vegetables/meat etc. We also have a pet cat and when I am at home I just feel as though every surface in my house is a potential source of infection, including plates, bowls, cutlery etc. I don't feel relaxed when I am there anymore.

I certainly can't eat anything I have touched with my hands even if I've just washed them as I feel I don't know what could be on them. I look back to the earlier months of my pregnancy and almost feel like they happened to a different person, I ate lots of (washed) raw vegetables and fruit then and wasn't bothered about eating crisps etc which had touched my hand. Now I feel like each of these instances was a risk to my baby and I feel awful.

My GP and midwife have recommended taking antidepressants but I know there are risks to these which they haven't discussed with me (I just got told not to read the side effects leaflet in the box) and I know I would feel really anxious about this too. I have been going to CBT but to be honest I don't feel like it is helping much, the therapist doesn't really know much about pregnancy OCD/anxiety.

If anyone has made it to the end of this essay, I suppose what I'm asking is if anyone else felt this way during pregnancy and what did they do? I hate the idea of this anxiety affecting my baby and I want to be able to look forward to the future and his arrival with the joy he deserves instead of this overwhelming fear and anxiety all the time.

CAAKE Wed 10-Jan-18 12:43:22

Hello. I felt this way (although with a different focus for my anxiety) from the time my children were born until they were about a year old.

I was extremely concerned about dirt and germs, washing my clothes and baby's clothes when they weren't dirty, washing my hands so many times I developed contact eczema and cleaning certain parts of the house in an obsessive way.

The only two things that helped me were:

1. Realising that my anxiety was hormonal, it was there for a "reason" - to make me protective of my baby.

The hormones and the anxiety faded away each time as my babies grew older. Maybe think of this as a way of framing your feelings? That they are over the top, but that they are real and valid and will fade with time as your baby grows up.

2. Having my lovely Mummy validate my anxiety. I had a massive meltdown when ds2 was about 8 weeks old. What I needed right then was for someone to tell me that all the mad cleaning I was doing was indeed mad, but that if I wanted to do it, and if it made me feel better, I should go ahead. My mum was the first to realise this, she came and sat with the baby for me a couple of times while I cleaned and sorted stuff out. I felt invigorated and much happier after each of these sessions (probably partly the exercise!) and it allowed me to get through that difficult time.

Have you talked to your husband? My OH needed to be sat down and told that his being exasperated at me and being dismissive of my feelings was causing my anxiety to flare up. It was very hard for him, but he learned to support me through what I needed.

I'm fine now, really fine! I'd never had any mental health issues before this so it really worried me, but talking to other mums and to my HV helped me to realise that it's a very common thing thanks

thingymaboob Wed 10-Jan-18 13:46:15

I could have written your post. Food contamination, especially around toxoplasmosis was a significant issue for me. I could not eat anything that wasn't washed or cooked within an inch of its life. I rinse all cutlery and wash my hands constantly. I know everything there is to know about toxoplasmosis. I have read so many academic papers on it. I have been having CBT, which hasn't really helped. It has got better these past few weeks (39+5 today).
This link helped me. It's about toxoplasmosis in pork but it describes the life cycle of toxoplasmosis and how it is killed during different cooking and preparation processes. It helped me understand the risks and relieved my anxiety about food somewhat:

cherryontopp Wed 10-Jan-18 15:16:48

Hi OP it sounds like your driving yourself mad.

Im pregnant with my IVF baby after years of trying. I was very anxious in the first few months but then i relaxed a little.
I rememer someone saying to me "worrying doesnt take the troubles out of tomorrow, only the joy out of today"
And it couldn't be any more true. Worrying will not change the outcome..worry as much as you like, its not going to change anything, it will just spoil your pregnancy and u will regret it.
Relax your baby is no doubt doing fine smile

Losgann Thu 11-Jan-18 12:44:25

Thanks for your responses. I have an appointment with a mental health midwife next week who I'm hoping might be able to help me access some more specialised support.

HerSymphonyAndSong Thu 11-Jan-18 12:48:22

My anxiety has been high, but not as bad as yours. As someone else has indicated, it helped me to see the anxiety as “just another” pregnancy symptom - so not something wrong with me iyswim

QueenAravisOfArchenland Thu 11-Jan-18 13:11:39

I think you need to take the medication. The reason it was offered to you was because the potential benefits for you significantly outweigh the risks, which are largely marginal and/or theoretical. I know you feel you would worry about that too, but the medication is there because it can help you deal with that.

Your anxiety sounds like it is beyond "normal" pregnancy anxiety and has become a clinical issue. That is miserable for you and won't help you cope with the birth or care for your baby.

I hope your conversation with the midwife goes well, but.. reconsider the medication.

Losgann Thu 11-Jan-18 16:29:32

Queen I feel as though that's the way things are heading to be honest, as much as I wanted to do without taking them. I want to talk the risks through with someone before I start taking them so I feel more informed. But I can't keep on with the way things are going, I feel so vulnerable and afraid all the time.

MsBranwen Fri 12-Jan-18 08:51:15

I also had intense food anxiety, which got worse around third trimester. I hated eating out, stopped eating anything raw, cooked and washed everything so so thoroughly. I felt that it was what I needed to do to feel in control of my baby's safety, as pregnancy made me feel so out of control. The day after my ds was born I had an amazing meal of brie and raw vegetables! Now that ds is here I continue to have anxiety, the food fears were the form it took during pregnancy and now there are new things I worry about. I had and continue to have regular psychotherapy and also do mindfulness, both of which have helped me acknowledge and try to make friends with my anxiety. I have tried to be really open and honest with the people in my life about how I'm struggling and also to be gentle to myself. Your body is undergoing such intense changes, you are doing an amazing job xx

Losgann Sat 13-Jan-18 15:54:58

Thank you branwen, I use mindfulness as well although when I'm very anxious I find it difficult to focus on it, something to work on I think. Did you access therapy privately?

MsBranwen Mon 15-Jan-18 08:05:31

Yes I went to a private therapist as all I could get through nhs was a few sessions of cbt and that just wasn’t enough to address 30 years of anxiety! My therapist is amazing and has a sliding scale so makes it more affordable and for me entirely worth it, it hasn’t got rid of the anxiety, but it really helps me cope with it. Wishing you much wellness xx

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