Yesterday at my 27 week prenatal visit, the doctor told me my baby is measuring small, only in the 4th percentile.
Me being me, I immediately started freaking out.
I used to be a NICU nurse so I have seen plenty of premature babies with “intrauterine growth restriction.” It can be a very long and arduous journey for families.
And more research gave me even more reasons to worry.
The doctor doesn’t yet have an explanation for why she’s small.
On the ride home from the appointment, unrelatedly, I was listening to a business coaching podcast, and the host said, “numbers in your checking account don’t cause anxiety.”
It snapped me back to reality in a surprising way.
My baby being in the 4th percentile isn’t making me feel anxious.
It’s my thoughts about her being in the fourth percentile that are making me feel anxious.
Lots of people would be anxious about her percentile, but not everyone would be equally anxious. My knowledge of the NICU increases my anxiety. Some people might think, “well, this is her first worrisome measurement; let’s wait another two weeks and see what happens.”
Someone else, at the other end of the extreme, might have an absolute meltdown over the news.
None of these reactions are right or wrong; they just prove that the facts, themselves, don’t cause emotions.
In my case, just remembering this actually lowered my anxiety a bit. I’m still worried, and planning to research the issue, and get the bloodwork he recommends and take the vitamins and do the biweekly Doppler studies… but I am remembering it’s my choice to freak out or not. And freaking out doesn’t really serve me or anyone else so maybe… I’ll hold off a bit longer on freaking out.
Also, he doesn’t want to see me again for another two weeks and one could argue that means he isn’t that worried. I mean, he could’ve sent me straight to Labor and Delivery and he didn’t.
I think – now that I think about it – that he actually told me not to worry yet.
Some people might actually take that advice. I’ll let you know how I do.
PS It's been two days since I wrote this post and my anxiety has waxed and waned (currently at a moderately low level that is allowing me to function pretty well). More evidence that it's not the facts that cause my anxiety, since the facts haven't changed since my appointment two days.
PPS The goal with self-coaching here is not to stop worrying completely. I want to worry, a bit, because it's making me get my blood work done, order the fish oil, and eat more protein and fat. But huge swirling anxiety just paralyzes me and prevents me from functioning in life. That's obviously not helpful.
Self-coaching helps me manage my anxiety so that I continue to move through life. It creates awareness and helps me move through the anxiety, without resisting it, so that I can get on with things.
PPPS If you'd like help managing your own big emotions, schedule a free consult for life coaching and experience a transformation in just one hour, guaranteed. If you love it, continue on at $579/month for weekly sessions. If you don't love it, no worries, no sales pressure. I'll be grateful to have had the experience of coaching you either way.
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Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.