There’s a lot to worry about when you’re pregnant: Is your baby developing properly? Are you gaining a healthy amount of weight? Do you want to know the baby’s sex? What about names? And childcare? And a nursery?
Like many other women, when I found out that my husband and I were expecting, my head became the headquarters of Worry Central, but curiously, I wasn’t overly concerned about birth defects or college costs. I was singularly, obsessively focused on one thing:
At first, I justified this by saying that I had a natural enthusiasm for baby gear. Then I said that I just “knew what I wanted” because my niece and nephew had one stroller from heaven that drove like a Lexus and another with tires that hated curbs, bumps, and cracks.
“How many times did they wake up from a nap because I rolled the stroller over a twig?” I’d say to my husband. “We need a stroller with good wheels.”
But soon even justification couldn’t mask my fanaticism: My husband would find me furiously typing on my computer each morning, researching strollers. In the evening, my eyes would be glued to internet reviews of every stroller data point from suspension to weight to safety to ease of folding. My mom would call to say hi, and I’d have nothing to talk about but my latest stroller discoveries.
I visited five stores to try out various models.
In the meantime, friends and family who weren’t exposed to my compulsive stroller search would remark that I seemed very calm for a pregnant woman.
“I am calm,” I’d say, “Except for this stroller thing.”
The worst part of it was: I couldn’t figure out why this stroller mattered so much. But like most problems in life, once I finally began to admit my stroller obsession, I began to understand more of what it was about. And I learned that I didn’t suffer alone: My cousin told me she had a similar fixation with cribs (it had to be non-toxic and made in America) and a friend admitted she couldn’t stop thinking about bassinets.
Like me, they knew intellectually that their obsessions didn’t warrant the worry they put into them, especially when given all the other important things that happen during pregnancy: Your body is undergoing momentous changes; your family structure is about to permanently shift; how you’re going to maintain friendships or a work-life balance or an exercise routine or find time to sleep are all grand mysteries.
And yet, none of those things preoccupied us. What did? Bassinets. Cribs. Strollers.
That’s when I began to realize that focusing on the stroller might not be such a bad thing. In fact, maybe it was so important to me because it was one thing I could also control at a time when virtually every other change was outside my control. I have no ability to predict whether I’ll develop gestational diabetes or will get my pre-pregnancy shape back or whether my child will be bullied in school. I can’t predict whether my husband and I will be able to save enough for our little girl’s education and not a clue what labor will be like. And because these things are so far out of my control, worrying about them won’t do me any good.
But the stroller was different. The stroller was something I could handle, a reminder that even with all the unpredictables, there was something I could ensure would be okay.
In the end, I did find a stroller I loved, and I can’t wait for our future little girl to take her first tour in it. I can also see in retrospect that obsessing about a stroller actually provided a channel for the rest of my nervous energy. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t control, I focused on what I could, and while that made me look like a kooky stroller fanatic to everyone else, it also helped maintain my sanity.
What are you worried about in pregnancy? Are there ways that you can distract yourself from the worry? What can you control and what is beyond your ability to manage?