Anxiety, Depression, Fear and Unconditional Love

posted by Andrea | 02/14/2014

uncnditional love

Today is the last day of Baby Week here on the blog. I’ve had so much fun celebrating Baby Dekker #2 with a full week of fun baby-related posts and giveaways — all geared to make life with a new baby a little simpler, more organized, and more fun!!

If you haven’t entered to win the 12 fabulous giveaways yet, do so here!

Happy Valentines Day!

Today is a day of love — and although I truly don’t buy into Hallmark Holidays, I thought today would be the perfect day to share a love story with you. It’s not a traditional love story by any means — and it’s not even about Dave :)

Today, I’m sharing my love story with Nora, and the whirlwind journey motherhood has taken me on these past 815 days (yes, I counted).

smooches from mom

Although I officially became a mother on 11-22-11, my journey to motherhood started years ago — well before Dave and I ever met.

I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but never in the sense that I wanted to babysit, play dolls, or really even hold other babies growing up. I never understood my one sister’s infatuation with tiny babies and her love for babysitting small children (that sister is now a Labor and Delivery nurse by the way!) and still to this day, I will almost never ask to hold someone else’s baby or volunteer to watch other people’s small children.

I just really don’t like babies (and I’m honestly not saying that to be funny or weird).

No, when I pictured myself as a mother, it was never to infants or toddlers — although I did realize it would most likely need to start out that way.

Instead, I envisioned myself baking cookies and doing crafts with my 5 and 6 year olds; carting my 8 and 9 year olds to soccer practice, baseball games, and piano lessons; preparing my 11 year olds for their first day of middle school; and shopping for prom dresses with my 16 year olds.

I envisioned parent-teacher conferences at school, watching them sing in the church choir, and family vacations without the need for diaper bags, pack n’ plays, sippy cups, or carseats.

I had a feeling motherhood would be difficult for me, but I figured I could do it (at least after age 4!)

So although Dave and I knew we wanted to have children some day, we were both totally fine waiting several years to start our family.

I told Dave how nervous I was to have an infant, and frequently asked him to consider adopting older children (yes, I was serious). Dave wasn’t sold on adopting older children before we even tried to have our own — and I agreed that it might be better if we “started at the beginning” with a newborn baby so we could get some experience with the whole spectrum of parenting.

Fast-forward a few years…

I don’t think either of us could have ever been prepared for how insanely life-altering it would be to bring Nora home on that Thanksgiving Day, 2011.

first family photo

Although we had SO much to be thankful for, I don’t even have a picture of Nora and I “coming home” because I was literally SOBBING the entire last day in the hospital, the entire ride home, and basically until we went to bed that first night.

The nurses kept asking me what was wrong and all I could say was, “there is no way I can take this baby home with me.” They smiled and reassured me that everything would be fine — but I seriously doubted that.

Everything would NOT be fine.

I had no idea how to care for this tiny person who was now 100% dependent on me, and the thought of raising this child for the next 4+ years (to the point where we could finally start baking cookies and doing crafts) was simply too much for me to handle :)

I was told these overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear would subside after a couple weeks… but they didn’t. In fact, they got worse — but then I was told that it was just because I was so sleep-deprived and to wait it out a few more weeks until the baby was on a schedule and sleeping more regular hours (insert loud laughter).


Two years later, Nora is still not on a schedule and is still not sleeping regularly through the night — but at least I can say that some time in that 2-year period, I was finally able to move past most of that anxiety, depression, and fear.

It took a really long time (probably close to 18 months) and I was never once offered or encouraged to try medication.

Everyone told me it was normal to be overwhelmed, it was normal to feel slightly anxious and depressed — this was all part of being a first-time mom and it was probably because I was so organized before having kids. However, I really don’t think these people understood what I was going through on a daily basis — and of course, it wasn’t really something I wanted to have lengthy conversations about.

As someone who rarely ever cried or worried before I had kids, my days were now spent sobbing on the couch (usually with Nora screaming in my arms). And the few hours at night when I wasn’t awake with Nora, I was laying awake in my own bed worrying and feeling anxious about EVERYTHING.

“What if our house starts on fire and I can’t get to Nora?”

“What if I get in an accident in the cold weather and can’t call for help so Nora freezes in her carseat?”

“What if I die — how would Dave care for Nora on his own?”

“What if Dave dies — I could never do it all by myself?”

“What if Nora stops breathing or starts choking and I don’t notice or can’t get help in time?”

“What if I pass out in the middle of the day and no one notices until Dave get’s home from school and Nora is on her own all day?”

These might sound totally crazy to someone in their “right frame of mind” but these thoughts (and hundreds of others) were legitimate and real concerns that plagued me every single day — and night.

I loved my little girl more than words could describe, but I was an absolute wreck.

Surprisingly enough, I could usually hold it together pretty well whenever anyone else was around. Aside from a few really bad days, Dave was the only one who saw my anxiety, depression, and fear — and I don’t even think HE realized how bad it was.

Honestly, I didn’t even realize how bad it was!

It was only in the past 6 – 8 months or so when I finally started to feel totally “normal” again (yes, that was the exact same time I was finally able to stop nursing Nora) and I could look back and see how awful my first year+ of motherhood really was. Not “awful” in a sense that I don’t have any happy memories of that first year, but simply from the standpoint that I know I NEVER EVER want to go through that again!

Yes, I’m still tired and I still find myself excited to move past the baby stage (I realize it will be a while yet)… but at least I can breathe, I can enjoy the day without feeling suffocated by my anxious thoughts, and despite my pregnancy hormones, I can go weeks without shedding a tear!

Although Nora still isn’t quite old enough to really help me bake, and our “crafts” mainly consist of putting stickers on every stick-able surface within her reach, life is SO much better now that she is a bit older and I feel like my “normal” self again!

However, the anxiety is coming back.

With another baby on the way in just a couple weeks, I can’t help but feel a little anxious about what life will be like when we bring him home. Yes, I realize the irony of this situation — I’m getting anxious about the fact that I may or may not have severe anxiety after our next baby is born :)

For the record, I’m 100% OK with taking medication from the day I give birth if I feel it’s necessary. Dave and my doctors are totally on board with this too — which in itself is a huge relief for me. I know that no matter what, I will never feel as horrible as I did with Nora.

There is just no way I’m going to let another year of my life slip through my fingers again — and I honestly don’t care what anyone else says!

I listened to everyone else’s opinions with my first baby… this time, I’m trusting myself and doing what I feel is best for ME, for MY BABY, and for OUR ENTIRE FAMILY.

So what about that Valentine’s Day love story?

Don’t worry, I’m getting there!

As I’m sure many moms out there can relate to, my love story with Nora is so much different than my love story with Dave (you can read that story here and here!)

With Dave, I had plenty of time to get to know him, grow to love him, and learn to live with all those little imperfections we each have. Plus, it was ALWAYS a give-and-take relationship — meaning the more I invested into the relationship, the more I got out of it.

With Nora, she was just THERE, screaming in my arms and waiting for me to love her without ever really getting to know her. And as with all babies, it’s just a give-and-give-and-give-and-give relationship (which is especially difficult for someone who doesn’t naturally go gaga over newborn babies!)

There were plenty of days when I wondered (and of course worried) if my anxiety, depression, and fear meant that I somehow didn’t love my baby enough — talk about mom guilt! But thankfully, I NOW know it was just the opposite. I loved her so much — which probably made it even harder to get my emotions in check.

Over the past two years, this little girl has completely stolen my heart — to the point that my chest literally hurts when she hugs me and says, “oh mommy, you’re my favorite. I wove you so really vewy much!

I would do ANYTHING to keep her from harm.

I would do ANYTHING to calm her fears.

I would do ANYTHING to make her smile.

I honestly can’t even fathom being able to love TWO kids that much — but I know it will happen.

Nora and I have made it through a lot together (WAY more “junk” than Dave and I have ever had to trudge through) and we’re both still standing tall!

In fact, I think our relationship is stronger because of it. 

So to all the mothers who have battled with anxiety, fear, or depression for weeks, months, or years of their lives, and are also still standing tall… Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all those kiddos you’ve loved unconditionally through it all!

Although they might not come out and say it so freely, I’m sure they “wove you so really, vewy much” too!

mom and nora

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Filed under: ChildrenFamilyParenting



  1. veronica


    I have never commented before, but I have been reading your blog since before Nora was born. My little girl was born in may and while many people say I am “lucky” because I have a “good baby” it is still very hard sometimes. All that to say, you are an insparation. Reading your stories helps me deal with things in my own life. Thank you for what you are doing. Best wishes to you, your family, and the new baby. :)


  2. k


    I am so sorry you had to go through that – the feeling that you had to “hold it together” when other people were around probably actually made it harder. I am glad you are prepared the second time around – maybe it won’t happen, but if it does, DO NOT let anyone make you feel guilty for any decisions you make. That includes breastfeeding – if it keeps your hormones raging, then stop – seems to be the biggest thing people feel they are entitled to criticize new moms about.
    You are a great mom, and this time around you know it! Good luck!


    Bethany V. Reply:

    Just a quick note about depression and breastfeeding. There is a uncommon disorder that a friend of mine suffered from with her first child (but fortunately not so much her second) where the milk let-down actually causes feelings of negativity and depression. It’s not well documented or well treated, but still work looking into if you decide to breast feed. Ask a good lactation consultant. (By good I mean one who is interesting you having the experience you want, not her own agenda).


    Leslie Reply:

    I am so interested to hear this! When I had my babies, long ago, I had that exact experience…A feeling of profound sadness when my milk let down. I did not breastfeed for a prolonged period of time. It was a difficult experience for me…not painful, but just so sad. I did not want to tell anyone because your experience with let down is supposed to be one of closeness…But it was very real, and happened every time for me. I also had anxiety problems that were not addressed until much ,much later. Thanks Bethany for this info.


    Becky Reply:

    I also had this feeling while breast feeding. I just assumed it was my hormones working overtime! It is interesting that others felt this way as well. I did not quit breast feeding because the feeling would pass quickly. Thank you for your honesty, Andrea. Hopefully it will help other new mothers! I have an 11 year old and 8 year old twins, and looking back I wish I had gotten some help, probably medication, after both pregnancies. I always had heard how people bonded with their children immediately after birth and I felt exactly the opposite and felt very guilty for it, but it was very difficult. Now I see that I was probably having post baby depression of sorts and wish someone would have helped me recognize this and gotten help. It is hard to know what is really normal when you are going through it. I really enjoy your blog and get a lot of insight and am constantly trying to simplify. I probably live about 20 minutes or so from you and can also relate to this crazy Michigan winter!! :)


  3. Miranda


    What an incredible love story! And to think you never ‘vented’ on your blog. We knew that Nora was a tough baby but never to this extent. You have so much grace. Nora’s so blessed to have you.


  4. Jennifer M.


    The anxiety, depression, etc., are totally a result of having kids….I know I have five of them. With my first three it was so noticeable, but as the fourth and fifth one came it hit me. In fact, I got postpartum depression and then it got worse. I would know my own kids and husband but total strangers I would forget. We figured out with a hormone replacement therapy that was all I needed, and special love in care from my husband! (He did an awesome job of taking care of both me and our kids during my two week illness). Plus, B12 shots seemed to help and since then I found great documentation on how those shots (or taking a B12 supplement can help to naturally add those vitamin back in our body) After we have a baby we get totally depleted because baby takes those from us, especially if we take prenatal with folic acid. The folic acid and B12 work against each other. Women who are totally depleted of B12 vitamins tend to have anxiety, depression, nervous, and even sleep problems. Research. Also, the natural progesterone I take also helps. I have known for years that I have had hormone problems after one miscarriage, one gall bladder removal, and two post partum depression incidents. My hormone pharmacist has really helped me. If you can find one I think it would be great for you to have your hormones checked.. Just a thought! I always like to pass what I have learnt through my own experiences, even if only a little helps other women from having problems! God Bless!


    Jennifer M Reply:

    I meant with the first three kids it wasn’t noticeable!


  5. Nicole DC


    Thank you so much for having so much courage to put your story out. I had to endure months of sadness before I realized that I had anxiety and depression after my first child. My husband was in the military at the time and was set to deploy a year after our first daughter was born. I had to come to terms with reality real quick and that didn’t help the situation. I’m so comforted by your honesty and what you do for mothers who live in the real world. You are an amazing inspiration to me not just because you appear to have everything in check but because you are willing to let us see the good as well as the not-so-great episodes in your life. This is a blog other women can relate to. Thanks a million.


  6. Library Momma


    Amen to not letting another year slip by, you are not alone, just because others don’t talk about it or appear like everything is rosy on the outside doesn’t mean it is. Thank you for sharing something so personal. It may not be as bad with baby two, but you took a massive first step with how honest you have been with yourself. I wish I could have read this post a few years ago after having my first.


  7. Jenni


    Thanks for sharing this. I have a very high-needs oldest son, and I can totally relate to a lot of your feelings. I even participate in a preschool co-op, but it is really hard, because preschoolers are not my thing when it comes to teaching – I love 2nd grade and up!

    I can say that my son (age 6) is now the sweetest kid – we had to work through a lot of allergy issues that were causing behavioral changes, and I think some of it is just development. Now he is mostly even-keeled, independent, and helpful. He likes to do crafts, and is very easy to relate with! Also, a lot of that “energy” is now very helpful in homeschool and in working – he rarely gets tired, and can power through 3 or 4 lessons at a time.

    But, like you, I am pregnant again (with number 4, though – I’ve had two others since my first ;)). I’m not nervous this time around. Breastfeeding is hard for me, though I’ve done it with all three. I’m giving myself permission to ease back on it if it’s too much to handle with homeschooling and everything else. I can say that every child is different. My first was so intense, and the next two were really mellow.


  8. Natalie


    Thank you so much for sharing your experience – I think every mom to some extent goes through the same feelings, even though each situation is unique. It is such a relief to know that I am not alone and you are not alone in this. That’s why being honest and sharing your experience with others so healing…for everyone…
    As a mom of two little girls ages 5 and 2 – I also was feeling nervous before baby number 2 and thinking “Is it going to be same level of anxiety, tiredness, sadness, depression…?” While with my second daughter, the issues were completely different and I no longer had anxiety attacks – she cried every night from 6-8 pm for the first 4 months of her life (we couldn’t figure out the reason, didn’t seem to be colic or pain). It was a little easier on some level – at least I had some experience taking care of an infant and could fall back on some of the “tricks” that worked before. I think I was more confident in myself as a mother and maybe a ted more intuitive – listened to my feelings and hunches more and the scary statistics, advice and all the things that could go wrong a little less.
    One thing that has helped me tremendously in the last 3 years is to take 20 minutes of Quiet Time – I know it’s hard to imagine squeezing in this time with two little ones at home. I can honestly say that it brought my levels of anxiety, stress and worry considerably and noticeably down, I felt calmer, more level headed, relaxed and emotionally stable. You can find the exact steps for taking QT on my blog (click on my name above). This simple practice has transformed my life – I only wish I knew about it earlier.
    Blessings to you and your dear family! Thank you for helping us all heal…


  9. Diane


    I have been reading your blog for a couple of years. I am always so impressed with all you have accomplished and make everything look so easy. I feel so bad that you have struggled since Nora was born. I have anxiety and depression also and it is truly miserable. I am on medication now and it has changed my world. Although it would be even tougher with having a new baby, hormones, etc. I hope you don’t have to struggle so much this time. You do an amazing job with Nora and Dave ;) I really appreciate all the time you must spend on your blog, etc. You make every look so easy!!! Thank you and best wishes for you and your family on the birth of your son.



  10. Kim


    Bless your heart, I had no idea how difficult it was. Thank you for speaking up. I have no idea what the addition of baby #2 will be like, but please know that, even though I am a stranger, I care and will be praying that this time will be better. I think you are very wise to be willing to take medication if needed.
    Cheering you on,


  11. Rebekah


    I have been following since before Nora was born and I had my first about 6 months older than Nora. Although not to the extent of Nora, arya has been a very high needs baby. She also would only nurse until she was 15 months, didn’t sleep, and we moved 4000 miles across country to Alaska when she was 8 months old. I fell deep into post partum depression, and didn’t know it, was stuck in my house by myself all day every day due to circumstances. It was awful, and like you I didn’t know how truly awful it was until things slowly started to get better. My husband and I have been putting off baby 2 due to how difficult the first few years were. Just know that I am so touched by your honesty, that you are not the only one who has ever had those feelings, and that I will be praying for you and your new baby boy that this time is not so bad, that the motherly feelings come more freely and that the sleepless nights end much sooner!


  12. Jenny


    I wanted to offer a little encouragement. I too was very depressed after the birth of my first child, a sweet boy with adorable dimples. I didn’t even know how bad it was until after the birth our our second, a girl. Even in the hospital, I could tell I felt better, whole even.
    I could spend a lot of time here, adding details, but the point I want to show you is that it can be different the second time. It certainly was for me.
    I’ll be thinking of you during my prayer time the next couple of weeks.


  13. Shell


    Cried most of the way through the blog. Thank you very, very much!! Very healing.


  14. katie


    What a wonderful post, thanks for sharing your story. Will be praying for an easier start with baby #2!


  15. Brooke


    I’m 34 years old and my husband and I have one 6.5 month old boy. I related so much to what you had to say in this post. Thanks for sharing. Your honesty is refreshing and encouraging. Blessings to you and your family.


  16. sarah


    A tough story to have experienced but love your boldness and courage to do so. I’m not an infant person myself and had a similar experience with my first who still challenges me daily. What I did want to say and share is: when my number 2 came along I felt a confidence in knowing what to do with an infant how to care for an infant. That confidence helped subdue some of the fears and anxieties. I’m for sure not talking about anything relating to post-partum depression that’s a whole different ball game that I’ll leave to the experts. I’m just speaking into the experience of welcoming a second baby into your family, which by the way it is amazing how ones heart expands whether it happens immediately or gradually it does happen.
    praying for a smooth entry for your little guy and an easy adjustment for you all.


  17. seem


    your post made me cry….since i went thro the same thing…although we are from 2 different worlds..we are still women!. my son was born a day after thanksgiving !. i totally love your honest opinion in our posts and not be obligated by the fact-what is the world gonna think about me?
    I have learnt a lot from your post and looking forward to many more to come.
    Thank you.


  18. Melissa


    Beautiful Love Story.


  19. Kaui @ Organizing Military Mommy


    Your story has totally touched my heart. I too struggled with the exact same anxiety, fears, and depression when my daughter was born and I found myself as a new mom who had no idea what to do. Things got even worse when my husband was deployed while our daughter was just 6 weeks old. I was a complete and total emotional MESS! But God saw me threw it and I learned so many things about independence. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

    When my son was born, I was much better at handling my emotions, but I still struggled. I too have a lot of mom guilt because my health was very bad at the time my kids were young and because of it I caused them a lot of pain. Thank God children are resilient and great at forgiving. I still struggle even though my daughter is already 6. Almost daily I feel guilty for not doing something I feel I should have done for or with them. But I have to remember that all they want and need is my love. That is what I will focus on. Showing and proving to them that I love them :)

    Thank you so much for sharing your story <3


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