I'm Scared All the time...what's Normal?

Updated on May 04, 2011
L.K. asks from Fargo, ND
12 answers

Hi, I'm looking for feedback as to what is normal to be afraid of when you are a new/first time mom.

There are a couple of extenuating circumstances for me so that I need to know much of what I am feeling is normal and how much is ridiculously out of proportion or caused by these other things. First, my ex assaulted me when I was pregnant (we were broken up), breached the restraining order, then burnt my house down the night I gave birth to my daughter. My counsellor says I have post traumatic stress disorder and I have reason to still be afraid of him - installed as much security as technically possible and am constantly looking over my shoulder thanks to him. The arson put my fear level of him over the top.
Second, it took me 20 years and 5 miscarriages to finally have my healthy daughter, so I am bound to be overly protective of her.

It is really at the point now though that I am some days practically paralyzed by fear. I am so terribly afraid of something bad happening to her - getting in a car accident, falling down the stairs, dropping something on her head, so on that I feel sick to my stomach a good part of some days. How much fear does a normal first time mom have? Do you think nearly non-stop about ways to keep your child safe and protected? I think I'd feel better if I knew partly this is normal and that I may feel better as she gets older...I've done everything I can as far as child proofing etc but I am worried about things that I can't control or are unknowns...

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I will definitely continue with counselling, until I use up my health coverage limit at least...I have only a very small support group, at least ones who I can count on to check in on us or understand what's gone on, that small amount is the main reason I decided not to "run" (that, and I want my daughter to grow up in a place I love...and I am pretty sure he would track us down anywhere if he wanted to, and at least the police etc here know the situation and would respond quickly if needed). No, he is not in jail; he skipped out on sentencing for the assault so there is a warrant out now. No, meds haven't been prescribed yet, but I am open to that if the doctors or counsellors feel it is helpful...they seem to think right now that I am reacting "appropriately" to the situation and actual threat - but I really feel (as some of you mentioned) that I've been robbed of a part of her babyhood and my enjoyment of this time with her. Not just due to the feelings but having to replace all our belongings and deal with insurance and rebuilding, which has taken soooo much time and energy. Arggggh.

I do feel better hearing from others though as I was wondering where my level of anxiety was compared to "normal" moms, and it does give me something to work towards. :) Thanks

More Answers



answers from Portland on

First, good for you for finding a good counselor. So many people are afraid to do this. Keep up with this person.

I, personally, think that this fear is something you should stay in touch with your counselor about, and do not play it down. If things are feeling really scary, then it's good to share this. The counselor will be able to help you differentiate if this is situational (and what a situation, I am so sorry) or if there is an post-partum depression/anxiety at play.

Speaking from personal experience: some things that happen to us in life feel very scary to us, and our level of fear is our survival instinct kicking into gear-- it is appropriate to the situation. In previous years, I have had to work through my PTSD with the help of a counselor. PTSD isn't an over-reaction to what happened to us, it is however the brain's response to what happened to us, and its desire to keep the body safe. Knowing what your triggers are really helps to make those feelings more managable. The sick-to-your stomach feelings sound like anxiety, and I'd talk to a naturopath regarding what you could do to make this feel more managable, esp. if you are nursing. (This is also something I've dealt with, anxiety.) I've found herbal remedies very helpful, so naturopathy is another route to look into.

I appreciate your love for your daughter, and your desire to be protective of her. The good part of this is that you are addressing these fears now, so that they won't inform all of your parenting in the years to come. It's scary to see our kids as they take risks and learn so many new things, sometimes, but we have to let them take reasonable risks. Continuing with your healing will help you be able to do that.

And if I can be bold and recommend one book for you, I'd choose Bruno Bettelheim's "A Good Enough Parent". It was very helpful and an eye-opener for me. Good encouragement for us to be brave and strong for our kids.

My best wishes go to you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think like you do. (I have also been diagnosed with ptsd & a general anxiety disorder) I can honestly say that there are crazy fears about your kids at any age- it wont go away unless you get some counselling & even then, these fears can develop during periods of stress. You need help to control your thoughts, because it can seriously hamper your life- as it sounds it already is. Anxiety & fear feed off of themselves, the more you feel it, the worse it can get. You need to speak to someone experienced in treating ptsd. Get your life back so you can enjoy being a mom. Living with irrational fears is no fun at all.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

First off let me say that I am so sorry you had to go through all that! Secondly, I think as first time mamas we all have fears...some more than others...but if you have PTSD I am sure that is effecting you. My husband has PTSD which went undiagnosed for 12 years. Right before Christmas last year we finally found a doctor who was able to diagnose him and help him. Have they put you on any medication for your PTSD, or do they think it is not that severe? I know my husband felt a massive difference when they finally put him on medication. He is off of it now and managing quite well. So I know medication doesn't always have to be a permanent thing with PTSD.

Also, things do get easier the older your baby gets. I have two little ones (a 2 year old and a 1 year old) and although there are new fears that come up as they get older, overall, I feel like my fears have dimished.One thing I do, and have done since my first LO was a newborn, is speak a blessing over them every night and ask that God place a hedge of protection around them and that He sends angels to encamp about them to guard them and keep them safe from all evil and all harm. I know that may sound silly to some people, but it helps me sleep at night knowing someone much bigger than me is watching out for them too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I don't think it would be fair to compare yourself to other first time moms. First of all, it took you so long to finally have your daughter that it is only understandable how truly precious she is to you. Secondly, and probably more importantly, your ex has put you and your daughter in mortal danger at least twice so far. I think your fear is an understandable reaction to all that you have been through. I think that if you continue working with a therapist and give yourself some more time to heal and process all of the stress that you have been through, you will reach a place in your life where you will find that you are no longer carrying around a lot of the fear that you are now experiencing. Continue working on it and just give it some time.

God bless.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I had fear and it went away with time, but your fear sounds extreme. I would continue with the counsellor and maybe even mention it to your doctor. Your ex sounds like a real @ss that you shouldn't have to put up with. I am sorry that you are going though this. Is there any way you can move and not tell him where you are?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

All moms worry & have fears, but it should not consume their minds & lives.

It sounds like your paranoia & anxiety are very extreme & probably related to your experiences with your ex. I hope you are discussing these issues with your counselor, as well. That may be the only way to work through it. It's not normal or healthy to live the way you are living. You & your child deserve to be happy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Most moms worry but b/c of your circumstances you have more on your mind. I do think it sounds a little more than average but perhaps meds and therapy could help? or a moms group......you shouldn't have to be sick to your stomach most days

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I have major anxiety, and I think this is a bit extreme. It sounds like you see a councelor.....however, I think you should go see someone that maybe can help more and/or go on medications.

I just think that it took you so long to get your baby, and now you can't even enjoy her because of the fear. Something more needs to be done so you don't look back and wish you could have that time back with her so small.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

First babies are precious. They test everything in you. I hate that you have had such a difficult time. It is normal for many women to see monsters and danger at every turn especially with the first. It's baptism by fire. Babies don't come with instruction manuals. We know nothing about caring for our own babies until we have them and then we learn together (baby and mommy). I suffered with severe post partum depression when I had my son but my faith in God helped me to snap out of it.

It just seems like you will need help. Try your faith and/or counseling and get all the help you need. It really does take a village to raise a child. In your case it is paramount for you to really stand your ground and be safe for both you and the baby but you also want her to be healthy and whole as a person which is why you will get the help you need. Some things are taught while others are caught.

One of my friend's mom is terrified of birds and my friend developed a fear a birds from her mother. She never had a scarry experience with them her mother did when she was very small.

Get all the help you need to be strong and wise in raising your child and facing your fears and conquering your fears as well. I really hope this helps. I will be keeping you both in my prayers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

urgh....i'm so sorry and congratulations!! at the same time.

I agree that you have PSTD - this is tough. I would NOT give this guy any more control over you than you already have - while I have never had to pull out a restraining order - but still - just practice what military types call OPSEC - Operational Security - know your surroundings - don't let them control you. It's like a terrorist operates on fear as a basis - you need to NOT let them control you with fear.

I understand you being overprotective of your daughter - however, you have to be able to let her live too...don't smother her - you CAN and WILL find a balance.

I would move, if you can - to where this guy doesn't know where you are. Why isn't he behind bars?! I don't get that!!! I'd get his butt behind bars.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think that it is normal to have some anxiety after you have your first baby, no matter what the circumstances are. After I had my daughter, I felt like I was going crazy the first couple of weeks: sleep deprived, trying desperately to breastfeed but she wouldn't latch on, etc. After my hormones calmed down I was better, but still had moments of anxiety. I remember trying really hard not to panic while driving down the highway with my daughter in the backseat. I had a sudden fear of heights that I never had before (I think it stemmed from my irrational fear of dropping the baby). So I definitely found myself more nervous and anxious after my daughter was born, and it got better as the baby got older.

But I can in no way compare myself to your situation; I would be exactly like you if I had to experience fearing for my life because of a crazy ex-husband. I'm so sorry you have to go through that. :( I can't imagine how hard this has been on you. Do you have family and friends who can support you? It's good you have a counselor; are you on anti-anxiety meds? Do you have chances to exercise and maybe do yoga or meditation every day to help deal with your anxiety? You should be able to live a normal life (with maybe the occasional twinges of anxiety, but not on the level that you're describing right now). Good luck; I really hope you are able to overcome your anxiety and enjoy your time as a mommy. Congratulations on your baby!



answers from Cincinnati on

Although I was/am in a healthy, non-violent marriage when my first son was born, I had a ton of irrational fears when he was a newborn. I would worry that if I fell asleep, someone would come in our house and kidnap him. I would worry about getting into a car accident and him getting hurt/killed. I constantly worried about SIDS- you name it, I worried/had anxiety over it! I was total freak about EVERYONE washing their hands with anti-bacterial soap before they held him and I didn't take him anywhere (except to the doctor) until he was 6 weeks old....RSV was also on my list of fears. I lived like that for about 4-6 weeks and finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I talked to my OB/GYN and told her about all of my irrational fears and she diagnosed me with post partum depression. She prescribed an anti-depressant to help me get over the "hump". I really didn't want to take them, but I was so sick of being miserable, that I gave it a try. The meds worked wonders for me. I only took them for about 3 mos, but that was just what I needed to be able to enjoy my precious son! With my next two boys, I began taking meds immediately after their births to be proactive and I didn't experience any of the PPD symptoms like I did with my first baby. Before I had my son, I had heard about PPD, but not the kind of symptoms that I had. I always heard that you cried a ton and that you didn't bond/love your baby. I had also heard that some women would hurt or wanted to hurt their babies. For me, it wasn't like that at all. I actually loved him so much that it hurt. So even all of the stuff that your ex has done aside, I think you could have PPD in addition to your PTSD. I think you should definitely talk to your OB. Good luck.

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