Your Own Private Freakout


This week, I want to hear your reactions to something posited by a good friend of mine. While she has no children of her own, my friend Julie developed my show Mother Load with me, and directed another wonderful one-mother show called BabyLove. Julie has put in her time studying our kind, like Jane Goodall among the chimps, and so I have come to consider her an expert of sorts.

Julie was telling me recently that a cousin of hers, as the birth of her first child neared, was completely and utterly freaking out about how she might have to have a C-section. “Why?” I said. “I don’t know,” Julie said, “something about how the baby might get too much of the anesthesia in its system?”

“I guess I read that somewhere too,” I said, “but I can’t say it was something I spent much time worrying about.”
“No,” said Julie, “but you had your thing too. And so that’s what I told Simone. Every pregnant woman has her thing.”
Come again?

“Your thing was what if you couldn’t breastfeed,” Julie reminded me. “And Simone’s thing is what if she has to have a C-section. Pregnancy and childbirth are such overwhelming events, so fundamentally unknowable, that a mother can’t process it all, so I think each woman picks one thing to freak out about while she’s pregnant, and funnels all her anxieties into that one thing.”

This, I have to say, blew my mind.

I certainly had freaked out about being able to breastfeed before Cooper was born, and I guess I must have bent Julie’s ear about it a few times. I did wonder, then, how it was that other mothers-to-be didn’t seem as singularly concerned. It never occurred to me that it was the anxiety of Impending Motherhood itself that was made manifest, in me, in this particular way, and when other mothers had other anxieties that I didn’t particularly share, it was because I had already chosen my Personal Freakout Issue.

In the end, I breastfed three children without a hitch (and believe me, I know how fortunate I am to say that). And Simone didn’t have to have her C-section. So Simone will probably not worry about that if she has a second pregnancy—which doesn’t mean she won’t find a new pitcher to pour her anxieties into.

I thought Julie’s theory was supremely interesting, at the very least, and so I’m wondering: was there one thing, large or small, that YOU freaked out about during your first pregnancy? What was it? And do you think my friend’s theory holds water?