My Greatest Motherhood Fears and Worries

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It seems like from the moment I found out I was pregnant I’ve had an entire new set of worries and fears that I carry around with me, some of which have faded with time (will I have a miscarriage?!) and others which have stuck around and even grown more intense (will I like being a mother?!).  Today I’m breaking some of them down, in a list.  Dragging monsters out of closets and facing them on a colorful Moroccan rug like the one above makes them seem less scary, right?  Let’s hope so.  It’s an intense time of anticipation and excitement, I know there is so much goodness to look forward to.  But it’s also a bit crazy to know that one of  (if not THE) biggest life changes is about to happen and there’s not a whole lot I can do to prepare for it.  I have to wait it out and then see how it feels when I’m in it.  And that is unnerving, to say the least, for a planner and control freak like myself!  It’s downright scarytown.  Fellow mamas, are you with me?  Does it get less scary?!!  Do you or did you have some of these same worries, and did they go away?  I’m laying my crazy allllll out on the table today.  Can someone please give me a hug?  xx- Sarah  {photo via}

I have no idea what I’m doing with a newborn.  Everyone says that mom instincts kick in, but what if they don’t!?  Newborns are so tiny and helpless and new to the world- how will I know what he wants when he cries?  Will I be able to handle the sleeplessness and fatigue and still be a good mama to this tiny sweet boy who needs me more than anything in the world?  Or will I wish I could somehow turn back time and get him back into my belly where he’s safe and I can curl up for a nap undisturbed?  I know I will love him but will I simultaneously regret having a baby when my life as I knew it is gone overnight?  Just writing that makes me feel a guilt so heavy I can barely cope!

I think every parent’s greatest fear is that something catastrophic will happen to their child and I’m no different.  But I also fear that I will let that initial fear turn into overbearing parenting.  I don’t want to be a “helicopter parent”, but WHO DOES?!   And yet, they exist at every playground and I can’t say I won’t be one of them because OMG WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE BABIES AND TODDLERS ARE TRYING TO KILL THEMSELVES AT EVERY TURN?!!!!  I’m afraid I won’t be able to reign in my fear and raise our son the way I dream of- with freedom to explore, to get hurt and brush himself off.  I’m overprotective of our animals, and even though I have an awareness of it my anxiety gets the best of me and I am not always able to stop myself.  How will I navigate these very scary waters with our son??

Will the day-to-day chores of parenting be something I can approach with grace and selflessness or will I have a sense of burden about the diaper changing and snot-cleaning reality of it all?  I spend enough time with our friends who have kiddos to not be delusional about what the messy parts of parenting are, but I know I don’t get to see the magical moments first thing in the morning or have the feeling of love they have for their kids.  So will it all be worth it?  Will I happily get poop on my hands or will I be praying for the day when I get a break from it?!  Or will I fall into a semi-comfortable mixture of both?

 I’m terrified of being on the receiving end of the judgement we place on women and mothers in our society.  TERRIFIED.  I’ve read enough judgy articles and seen enough nasty comments online to be very aware that mothers are most likely to be judged of anyone.  RUTHLESSLY.  I don’t agree with it, not one bit.  I feel there is no one on the earth that deserves more compassion and support than the moms (dads too!) who are out there giving it all they’ve got.  And of course they’re falling short sometimes and of course there are a million different thoughts/ideas about what is best way to get through this whole parenting thing but at the end of the day I believe that 99.9% of the time everyone is just doing the best they can.  And I will be no different.  I will fall short, I will mess up and I will do the best I can knowing that at the end of it I will have regrets that torture me.  The last thing in the world I need (or any mother needs) is to have that compounded by our over-opinionated society.  Being that I have an online presence and this is my livelihood, I’m terrified of the judgement that I will face about my parenting.  I cannot imagine the heartbreak that comes with having the world criticize you for something so personal and heavy on your heart.  As if parenting wasn’t already so incredibly hard already!

There are so many decisions to make as a parent regarding your child, your relationship with them, their life- starting with pregnancy and childbirth and continuing on until the day you die.  These decisions are of the weightiest variety- even the decisions I’ve had to make about childbirth so far feel like the most important of my life.  And I’m making them on behalf of a little person who I am entirely responsible for- decisions that will potentially effect his well being, his happiness, his entire life.  I AM TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT!  I’m very well aware that I’m getting ahead of myself here with some of it but I am also very well aware that I will blink and be sending this kiddo off to preschool.  OR WILL I?!  Because maybe home schooling is better?!  Or will it be a Montessori school or charter school and HOW THE HELL DO WE COME UP WITH TUITION FOR PRE SCHOOL I REMEMBER SCHOOL BEING FREE AS A KID!!!!!!  O. M. G.  So. Many. Decisions.  How in the world will I make them all?  I can barely decide what I want for breakfast.  Total and complete overwhelm-ment.

Will I be a good mother and how will I live with myself when I fall short?  Ever since I was a little girl and took all of the younger children under my wing (yes, I was always that child who rounded up the littles and doted on them) people have been telling me I’ll be an amazing mother.  Which is lovely, it really is.  And I’d really REALLY love to think it’s true- but mothering is so much more than doting on other people’s babies.  So I can hope and pray that I’ll be a great mother, I can do my best, but at the end of the day the only person who will be able to judge that is my baby boy.  And there isn’t a child on earth who hasn’t grown into an adult and been able to look at their parents and see all of the shortcomings.  We’re human.  I know I won’t be the perfect parent, but will I be enough?  Will I be able to live with myself in the moments when I feel like I’ve failed?  What if I lose my temper, my patience, my perspective?  What if with all of my best intentions it’s not enough?  How does one live with the guilt?!

How will I handle being someone else’s everything?  My neighbor has 4 kids- and I hear them all day long “MOMMY!  MOM!!!!! MOMMMMMMYY!!!  MOMMMMY!!!!  MOOOOMMMMMMMM!!!!!”  She is their world.   And their needs are endless.  There’s beauty in this but I can imagine if you’re the Mom being needed 24/7 it can be exhausting!  I always hear moms joke about how they don’t even get a chance to pee alone and this is so hard for me to imagine!  I’ve lived a long life of independence and freedom, and I’m certain I take things like showering and peeing in private for granted but also OMG I WANT TO BE ABLE TO SHOWER AND PEE IN PRIVATE!  How will I handle this adjustment and the loss of my independence?  And am I awful for thinking of it as a loss?!

In conclusion…  WHOAH.  All of it, just…. WHOAH.  Weigh in below, if you please.  Or run for the hills, I won’t blame you!

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Reader Comments

  1. MissLilly|

    I feel exactly the same: 100% without a doubt! It’s a scary and exciting adventure all at the same time. I already worry loads while pregnant, is she ok inside? Will she be born safely? That doesn’t even include any of the worries once baby is out! I don’t think you’ll ever be ready but you’ll do your best as you go along

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      I am right there with you!!! The worry list seems never ending! We’ve got this! :)

      Reply
  2. Taste of France|

    Guess what? It doesn’t get better with time. In fact, the French like to say, small child, small problems; big child, big problems. But seriously, having just gotten my kid out of the hospital (viral meningitis), I’ll just say it is wrenching to have a sick kid. My heart bleeds for all those whose kids are far sicker than mine was.

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      OMG I’m so sorry to hear that your kiddo e has been in the hospital!! So scary! Sick kids are heartbreaking, I’m with you. I can’t even imagine what parents go through….

      Reply
  3. Abbie|

    You will be FINE! The crazy power of hormones after you give birth do help with a lot of this anxiety.

    Also, our society shows unrealistic tropes of stressed out, beleaguered, exhausted moms all day long–I shower and pee in private and don’t consider it a huge accomplishment :) Find yourself some awesome sources (blogs, writers, insta accounts) that focus on all the amazing and powerful facets of motherhood — I highly recommend writer and mom of 4, Rebecca, at http://www.girlsgonechild.net/ .

    Now go for a long walk and push those worries away the best you can. Sending you positive vibes!

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      YES!!! Thank you for the support and vote of confidence Abbie! That’s so great to hear that you feel like it’s all been dramatized a bit- I will aim to get in the private bathroom time and showers!!!! HA!
      Will also be checking out that blog. Any others you think I shouldn’t miss?! xx

      Reply
  4. Anni|

    I absolutely loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with everybody. I think it is extremely important to talk about this. I am pregnant (26 weeks) for my first baby and this could not have been more on point for me personally. I’ m totally thinking all the same stuff myself, but knowing we all do really makes me feel better. Hope it does the same for you!

    Reply
    • Amanda Patten|

      I am 26 weeks too with my first and I couldn’t help but wonder as I was reading this, “how did she know what I was thinking?!?” I’ve been nervous throughout my pregnancy about raising a child in a manner I would be proud of while still being myself at the end of the day. You’re definitely not alone with these worries and thanks for sharing!

      Reply
      • Sarah Yates|

        Congratulations Amanda!!! So happy for you and your little one, and it will be so fun to hear all of our thoughts on this again when our babies are out in this world! Hang in there mama!! XX

        Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Congratulations Anni! We’ll be having babies so close together! It does make me feel better knowing I’m not alone in these fears, and it will be so great to go through this process right alongside you and so many other mamas. I am going to rely heavily on this internet support system!!! XX

      Reply
  5. Marissa|

    what you are feeling is completely normal. i think most conscientious “parents to be” have many, if not all, of these same feelings. i’m 11 months into motherhood now (with our daughter) & can honestly say i don’t miss very much of my old life at all. hormones play a big role right after birth in the bonding of you & your baby. you honestly cannot imagine what it will be like until you experience it (i couldn’t, anyways).it’s really the greatest thing in the world & you will adjust. i’m an only child who had no experience with babies, but when it’s your child, you just KNOW. it WILL come naturally to you. my biggest piece of advice is to take care of YOU. do whatever you need to do to make sure you are getting naps, some nighttime sleep, good food, showers, and a little alone time. i never missed a day of showering thanks to my husband. when he got home from work in the evenings, he took over baby duty & i showered! hire help, enlist neighbors, friends & family, but do what you gotta do to ensure you are happy & healthy. you’ll be a better parent all around if your needs are met. best of luck. all will be fine & you’ll be more in love with that little baby than you can fathom!

    Reply
  6. Marcia|

    I cried reading this — you covered it all: the paralyzing fear of your new life, if you will mourn your previous one, how in the heck to navigate this scary, daunting, rewarding life change that is parenthood. Lovely post mama. Know you are not alone, I feel/felt/feel the exact same way and with a strong support system, and a lot of grace, we will triumph.

    Reply
  7. Christina @ Every Little Thing She Does...|

    I felt the same way before I had my daughter (now 18-months-old) and I still do somedays. I felt tremendous guilt when she was born because I didn’t have that instant “OMG I love you SO MUCH” moment the second she was born that I feel so many people gush about. I was tired. I was broken physically and mentally. I knew I loved her, but was so afraid because I didn’t have that head-over-heels moment instantly. I felt incredibl guilt over it, but I have talked to so many people now who felt the same way and soon after she was born I became obsessed with her (in a good way) and can’t even express how much I love her now. My husband and I also had those moments in the first few weeks of her life where we’d look at each other and think “what the hell were we thinking when we decided to have a baby?” Again, totally guilt, but it happens. You can prepare all you want for a baby, but you’ll never be truly prepared for how it changes your life. I look back on that newborn time fondly now, conveniently blocking out the difficult parts, and all of the amazingly wonderful parts outweigh the hard ones. You’ll be a fantastic mother. The important thing is to try and not be so hard on yourself and know that in every moment you’re doing the absolute best you can. I wrote this article when my daughter turned one and hope it helps ease some of your worries: http://everylittlethingshedoesblog.com/what-i-learned-in-my-first-year-as-a-mom/

    Reply
  8. Gwen|

    I’m not a parent… I’m not pregnant, I’m not even in a relationship right now… But I want to have kids and I have all of those fears.

    Take a deep breath and try to take it one moment at a time. Do your best in that moment, and the moment after that. Have grace for yourself when you fall short so your son will learn how to forgive himself when he fails. After all, “failure” or “shortcomings” are inevitable. Being taught to move forward from those uncomfortable moments with patience, humility and humor would be an amazing legacy to leave your child!

    Reply
  9. nicole|

    I just want to give you a big hug. All of your fears are very human and beautiful. If you haven’t already read Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, I highly recommend it. Some parts are about motherhood but mainly it’s just a really empowering book and a good reminder that life is hard and not much is in our control. Btw, i have two little boys and I can tell you it’ll all be ok. As for how society is judgy toward mothers, all i’ll say is for every annoying judgmental person I come across there are 100 warm, kind, welcoming mothers who understand what you are going through EXACTLY.

    Reply
  10. chas|

    Even though I am not quite yet on the motherhood path as you are, I still have the exact same fears of becoming a mother. I can sympathize and totally relate. From what I have read from your blog, I think you’ll be a great mom. Positive vibes to you!

    Reply
  11. sara|

    First, I think your list is totally normal. That doesn’t help take away the worry, but it should at least give you comfort that other moms (and dads) feel the same way. Second, this is totally useless to you right now, but I promise that it all gets figured out. The baby isn’t born running head-first off play structures, or entering preschool, or asking you weighty life questions. It’s just a cute/crying/pooping little lump at first, which gives you plenty of time to find your groove. The changes in the baby that will give rise to some of your fears will come gradually, and you will figure the way you handle those fears in the same gradual way. Last, you will be the baby’s everything at first. It’s exhausting but also really lovely (most of the time). But keep in mind that you have a great partner to help you through this. You’ve also got modern medicine, therapy, etc. and so many resources at your disposal :)

    Reply
  12. KKS|

    I cried reading this too. Beautiful post. You will be a phenomenal (and very stylish..) mama. It is the best thing in the world, aside from the sleep deprivation. The fact you are having all these concerns already show you will be a perfect mama. Done and done.

    Reply
  13. Tricia|

    I am 16 weeks pregnant, and our pregnancy was also unexpected/unplanned. I share all of these fears and it made me feel so much better to read that another mom-to-be feels the same way. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!!!

    Reply
  14. Steph|

    Everything about this is so perfect and part of the process. Just remind yourself that becoming a mother is a complete transformation into a goddess. Mothers are incredible and the ability to go through and endure every step is mind blowing. Think of a butterfly and their transformation, do they know that they are becoming a butterfly? Your fears are normal and they will dissipate with time and you will find your confidence. Just try not to put so much pressure on yourself. Your job as a mother is to love your child and show that love as much as possible. You do your best and that’s all you can expect. I highly recommend reading Brene Brown, Daring Greatly and watch her video on her parenting manifesto that’s in the book. The book will help you deal with all the judgey assholes too because if there was ever a time to give compassion, it’s with a mom (most people do & will, even strangers). You got this girl! I’m a twin mama and I remember all of these same fears and the shock of having two newborns. Each day will get better. Ask for help even when your independent self doesn’t want to. That’s been the hardest lesson for me. Oh and daily showers and peeing in private are absolutely possible (even with two toddlers banging on the door). Take deep breaths and know that you are an incredibly strong woman that can not only handle this but thrive on this remarkable journey. Good luck sweet mama!!!!!

    Reply
  15. Anne|

    Oh my goodness! To answer all your questions — yes, and no for almost everything! ha! All of what you said is normal, as well as the guilt for feeling it all. Ugh. And so it begins! You’ll miss your old life…and want to ‘give him back’ some days…but then you’ll change your mind five seconds later. Everything shifts (including all reachable decor, cords, breakables, dog dishes full of water) etc!!! and you’ll adjust to the new ‘normal’ (I still ask myself, “When will it all go back to normal??!?!?”) You’ll know what the baby needs (but sometimes not) and you’ll try everything to figure it out. When they’re really little it’s usually hunger, a burp, or gas. You won’t sleep like you used to. It will never ever be the same! But then one night he’ll sleep 10 hours and you’ll celebrate!! Everyone has an opinion about what to do, or what not to do — just read about some of the options, talk it out with Lou, and trust your gut. Here are two book recommendations for you (see, it’s already happening :) :) Simplicity Parenting by Kim Payne and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I feel like I’ve made some parenting decisions that ‘were a little different’ than what my friends, neighbors, and family considered the norm…but you just have to be confident and vulnerable in what you choose. It’s okay if you make a mistake, and it is so okay to do some things that everyone else thinks is crazy!! The first year is absolutely the craziest upside down shit show of parenthood. Your baby will change so much it will make you cry (literally cry all the time)! :) There is nothing I can say to prepare you for how amazing it is. It’s so wild, so fun, and the hardest (and best) thing I’ve ever done. You’ll be great, Sarah. I just know it.

    Reply
  16. Spy Garden|

    Awwww this is so sweet and honest. Deep breaths! Go with the flow. Don’t make too plans, just go with it. Just think of it as getting to know someone; of course you won’t know exactly what he needs at first, but you’ll learn. Every kid is different so you don’t really need to make any of these decisions yet. Parenting is not that hard, what’s probably harder is just quieting your mind and consistently staying relaxed/in the moment; so just work on that!! :) Sending hugs your way!

    Reply
  17. Heidi|

    Sarah,
    I am pregnant as well (22nd week and also a boy) and sometimes I worry like crazy…
    Like: Will this baby be healthy? (Everything looks great). How do I decide what of all the stuff I really need? (It’s overwhelming). Or: What happens to me and my job after the baby is born? Can I be a mom, a (good) wife and still have a career? I even worry about my pension – Will it be enough if I take a break now? Silly, I know…
    So I just try to breathe in and out and tell myself: it does not make sense to run around with an umbrella above my head when it’s not raining… By which I mean: worrying does not help me now at all. I will figure it out. Everything will be fine and I cannot really control anything. Yoga helps, too.
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us – happy you are back to blogging!
    Lots of love from Germany

    Reply
  18. Carolina|

    This is the first time I have ever commented on a blog but your post made me cry with relief. I am 11 weeks pregnant and it is the first time I have read something that describes as precisely everything that is going through my head right now.

    Thank you!!!!!!

    Reply
  19. Jade|

    My tiny is 8 months now, and I still feel a lot of these same fears. Being a mother is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me, I promise you it will be the same for you. Sometimes things are scary, they are sometimes overwhelming, mostly messy, but I could cry every time I see her, I love her so much, I am so lucky to be her mama.

    Also, order a box of windis ( by the nose Frida people), it may seem weird but they were a lifesaver in those first few months. I wish we would have known about them sooner, we all would have slept more!

    Reply
  20. Laura|

    You’ll be fine. Read as many batboy books as you can before the baby arrives to prepare you for all the unknowns – you won’t have the time once the baby’s here! For me routine was key to getting them (and me) into a pattern of normality as those first few weeks will have you feeling like you’re on another planet. Read, read, read all the baby books you can lay your hands on and go with what you feel is right for you. You’ll be fine and you’ll love it. Maybe not for the first few weeks as they are tough going – hormones, newborns, tiredness and then those hormones again..! But then you’ll love it! Congrats btw!

    Reply
  21. Jen|

    New mama here – can I say I’m comforted by your existential worries because I’ve just gone through the same concerns myself! I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Now that I’m four and a half months into motherhood and my emotions are starting to even out a little, I’ve become more aware of how hormones played such a huge role in the worries I had (very similar to yours) throughout my pregnancy and initial postpartum period. Not to take away from the weight of what you’re feeling, just that things became less intense for me recently and hopefully they will for you too. The best advice I’ve received is to remember to breathe when I’m feeling overwhelmed – simple but true and effective. Bringing yourself back into the moment is very useful. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it :-) It truly takes a village.

    Reply
  22. Zaira|

    Thank you for the support and vote of confidence Abbie! Wholesale Snapback Hats That’s so great to hear that you feel like it’s all been dramatized a bit- I will aim to get in the private bathroom time and showers!!!!

    Reply