a breakthrough

I have been scared, friends. Nervous, anxious, panicky, scared.

This week I will be flying to Nashville for 5 days of BlissDom, an awesome social media conference… with my 9 month old baby boy.

When I bought my ticket and flights, I felt brave and empowered. Look at me, blogging world, I’m so dedicated to breastfeeding, babywearing, and attachment parenting that I bring my babies with me around the countryHuzzah!

But lately I am nothing short of frightened at the thought of traveling and being alone with my (unpredictable) kiddo at an event that I would, you know, actually like to be able to attend. Will he nap? Will he be quiet so I can hear the sessions I’m paying to attend? Will he let me sit and eat? Will he be bored? Will he sleep at night? Will he keep my roommate and her baby up? Will I get frustrated and steaming mad and want to just be home instead of in some strange hotel in another state?

Will I even enjoy myself?

The anxiety about this hasn’t come overnight. What started out as optimism and excitement – that I wouldn’t have to miss another BlissDom conference, that my roommate (the sweet Kim of Prairie Mama) and her baby would be in it with me, that so many awesome friends are going to be there – has degraded into fear.

I would have a long day with OBrother, he would get irritated that he didn’t get to nap in his crib, and I would start wondering how it would go in Nashville. He started getting teeth and learned to stand (see these circles under my eyes? I haven’t slept well in weeks) and in the wee hours of the morning I think about Nashville. Then it got to the point where every poor nap and every fussy afternoon became another reason why BlissDom was going to be stressful, which meant that fussiness from my baby then became fussiness from my baby and a going-to-be-ruined conference.

You guys. Anxiety is the devil’s playground.

I’ve been researching, preparing, packing, and losing so much precious sleep. Do you want to know what I stayed up thinking about last night? Well, do you?

What tote/purse/diaper bag/backpack should I bring? Because, I mean, I won’t be able to wear my diaper bag as a backpack because I will mostly be wearing OBrother in the ergo which is a pack, and I don’t like the shoulder straps on my diaper bag so that’s kind of out. I could bring my purse but that isn’t going to be big enough for a change of baby clothes plus diapering stuff plus MY stuff. My tote bag is big but it isn’t very structured, so when I set it on the ground it tips over and spills…

I think myself in these anxious little circles, like my dog before she commits to laying down in a certain spot. Around and around and around…

Diaper bag? Purse? Tote?

Ballet flats? Wedges? Riding boots?

Ring sling? Ergo? Stroller?

Laptop? Tablet? Paper and pen?

At 12:20am last night, after a sweat-inducing hour and a half of uselessly rolling potential situations around in my head, I had had enough. It suddenly occurred to me to let it go. Let each of these individual scenarios go as they come to mind. Now, letting go is easier said than done (thought?), so I made a mental exercise out of it. Each time an anxious thought  arrived in the forefront of my mind – which camera lens should I bring? – I literally pictured myself taking that object or situation and laying it down at God’s feet. I lay it there, and, here’s the important part, I pictured myself removing my hands from the object now sitting on the ground before my Heavenly Father.

O, sweet relief!

Can I be honest with you? A lot of my postpartum mental health issues were (are) anxiety centered. I have sat on a couch or three talking about this very thing as it related to my babies and my ability to parent. Anxiety and I are oft companions. But this? This mind’s-eye setting down of my worries and watching myself loose my grasp and leave them there, earth-bound at the Creator’s feet?

It has been a breakthrough for me.

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20 Responses to “a breakthrough”

  1. Adventures In Babywearing

    I have to tell you, this will be my first Blissdom withOUT a baby and I am nervous about THAT. You see, I had the most amazing times when I brought Ivy. The sling helped- sometimes the stroller, too, and sometimes I was sitting in the back of the keynote speech on the floor nursing her by the sound booth but you know what? It was amazing and magical. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Can’t wait to see you two.


  2. Gussy Sews

    ummmmm. ok, secrets out: that A word has kept me awake many nights these last, oh, nine months… and if you’d like to have a plane partner (tee hehe) maybe we can swap stories and chit chat and then you’ll see how perfect OBrother really will be during your entire trip. #endrunon. love you!

  3. Jill

    I will be praying for you specifically as you anticipate this event, enjoy it, process it and share your perspectives? <3


  4. Dawn S

    I live in Nashville. I’d be happy to try to come entertain OBrother for some playtime while you go to a session or two, if you need. I could only do it on Thursday, sadly, but if it might help, I’m more than happy to play in the hotel lobby with him and my 2.5yr old!

    Otherwise, I am so proud of how you recognize your triggers and head them off. Just remember you are a great mom and blogger, and you make them work every day…so this is just a little different, but you will rock it, too! I know it!

    Email me at dawn dot e dot steed at gmail dot com if you need a hand!

  5. Ashley

    I share this struggle with anxiety – thank you for explaining how you find freedom from it. I am glad to have something else to try (the imagery of laying things down before God) the next time my mind starts to race. Praying for you, sister – that you experience freedom and are blessed by your trip!

  6. Jess

    This post is amazing I have the same anxiety issues post partum I am getting relief now that they’re older but it’s still hard when it creeps up on me. It’s extra worse with the less sleep I get what a great idea to lay it before god :)

  7. Stephanie Hanes

    Oh Alison…I can’t tell you enough how much anxiety has been my enemy in the last two years. It got so bad it would bring full on panic attacks – hyperventilating, puking, rocking myself back and forth, massive headaches…and generally feeling like I was losing it completely. But, thanks to some wonderful medication…and, most importantly, my amazing counselor, I have learned that anxiety doesn’t have to control me. I can stand up and say to anxiety “go away! you don’t belong here”. I’m learning to recognize those anxiety thoughts for what they are – fear and the devil trying to get a foothold in my life. And I am remembering the hope I have – that Christ has already won the victory for me – and the devil really doesn’t have any place in my life – I can hold onto my hope in Jesus and tell that devil to get as far away from me as possible because I HAVE JESUS! I’ll be praying for a safe and enjoyable trip for you – that He would continue to calm your fears and bring you a peace that surpasses understanding.

  8. grace

    oh, hon. this is ME. Totally me. I’m traveling from mexico to Oregon in March by myself with BOTH kids and the swirling thoughts have already begun. Thank you for this. It is so needed…
    And you already know this deep down, but everything will work out.
    It will!

  9. Nish

    I can haz baby snuggles?

    It’ll be great. YOU’LL be great. And there are so so so many of us there to help if you need. :) xo Can’t wait to hug you.

  10. Cheryl

    I have had such anxiety since I had my second child 11 months ago. It was really bad when it got close to traveling with my two kids, I was so worried about everything it was horrible. We are going on an even bigger trip this summer with my husbands family and I am going to try not to worry and just lay it before God. Hope you have a great trip , I will say a little prayer for you.

  11. Elaine

    I completely GET this. I worry too before any conference and the only time I’ve “brought” a baby was when I was pregnant with K at BlogHer ’09. ;) I’m guessing you’re gonna have all kinds of friends who will be willing to help or hold that sweet baby boy. Enjoy!! Wish I could be there to meet you both…

  12. Kasey M.

    Thank you for being so frank about facing anxiety. I will certainly be trying your technique the next time my mind is racing (and telling HB about the technique so he can gently remind me to try it when I’ve forgotten). You’re helping more people then you may realize by sharing your struggles – you are so brave.

    And that baby is going to have a fantastic trip making tons of friends just like you!

  13. Morgann G.

    I adore your blog so much ! It’s so encouraging to hear how you are pursuing the Lord in little things and big things.

    One thing I do when I get anxious or worried is practice “put-off / put-on” which is similar to you what you do. It comes from 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” In my mind I take my thoughts captive and “put off” what is not true or what is causing me anxiety and then I “put on” what is true and pure and lovely–the things of the Lord. I picture myself being clothed in a spirit of power, love and and a sound mind. Sometimes I even make a list of my “put offs” and the corresponding “put ons.” I love that the Lord is so faithful to replace our anxious thoughts with His strength and peace.

    Praying for you!

  14. Jenny

    I so get this anxiety. Anxiety has been at the root of my PPD and PPA. Traveling with both of my girls by myself sends my anxiety soaring. Facing my anxiety head on like you are doing here and reaching out is what helps me get through it. It doesn’t make my anxiety go away, but it quiets the load roar of anxiety down to a quiet buzz in the background.

  15. Kelly

    This is beautiful. What a breakthrough for you! Our problems aren’t always as big as they seem once we take a step back and change our perspective. Keep remembering that! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  16. Mr. Mike

    Sounds familiar. I remember a performance that I was doing and I had my daughter with me. She was a year or so old at the time and was the kind of kiddo who wanted to be held as much as possible. So, there I was, singing and playing guitar for a bunch of preschool kids, jumping and bouncing around, with my baby in my Ergo baby carrier. It was definitely an experience!

  17. Sarah @ Spoon Fed Baby

    Stumbled across your website…don’t remember how I got here! lol Very cute blog and I commend you for taking your 9 month old with you! I worry about taking my 7 month old to the grocery store! *although we just got back from FL and all survived :)


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