It’s a thing: Fear fantasies with babies

Yesterday in the Ask Moxie private FB group I asked about common health problems we have in the year after having a baby, and one of the things that came up was those almost unstoppable fear scenarios that we have about our babies. Sharon Silver called them “fear fantasies,” and I think that’s exactly what they are. Women in the group were shocked to know that this was an actual thing, because they thought it had just been them having these bizarre and scary persistent thoughts and no one else had.

A fear fantasy (as I experienced them and as other have described them) is one constant, specific fear of something happening to our child that we can’t will away or stop having just by force of will. (With my older child my fear fantasy was that a car would jump the curb and hit him in the stroller. With my younger child my fear fantasy was that somehow my older child would accidentally step on him and paralyze him. Others have described fear fantasies of accidentally drowning their child, that the child would be kidnapped, or other variations on harm coming to the child.)

They seem hormonally-based to me. Mine came on at a few weeks after birth with both of my kids and lasted for around six weeks. Others have fear fantasies at certain points in their menstrual cycles. Some women experience them for longer periods, and some for shorter periods.

I decided to ride mine out, because they were temporary (and the second time I knew that they would go away once my hormones evened out). If you are having them to the extent that they’re inhibiting your parenting, making you even more scared, or don’t stop, tell someone. There’s nothing wrong with you. They’re just another one of those hormonally-based mood things (like depression, anxiety, etc.) that can be treated by evening out your hormones by any of a number of methods. Having a fear is NOT having the urge to do something, so you have a little time to figure out treatment. (If you do have the urge to cause harm to your baby or yourself, this is a different illness called postpartum psychosis and it can be treated but you need to tell someone NOW so you can get treatment before anyone is hurt.)

Who has had a fear fantasy? How long did it last? Did you do anything about it or just ride it out?  If anyone’s experienced fear fantasies and some other hormone-based mood disorder (like PPD, anxiety, postpartum psychosis), how did they differ?

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