Dear Maxine,

As lockdown eases, I’m feeling increasingly anxious about losing control of my baby. That may sound intense but she was born during lockdown and it’s only been me and her for this whole time. Now that more and more people are allowed to come into our lives and our home, I’m starting to feeling increasingly anxious about losing my connection to her.

Thanks for your time.

Dear follower,

Thank you for getting in touch. I can really imagine what an invasion this might seem like and I think this isn’t dissimilar from when people return to work and they have to hand over their baby to someone new. However, you have the added complication of having missed the opportunity to share your experiences with other mums in person and I think that can add to our sense of isolation and need for closeness with our babies.

In order to begin to decrease this anxiety, let’s get to know it a bit more. As ever, take your time, keep breathing out and lean into the difficult feelings as much as possible – taking breaks when you need them.

Firstly, what are you most worried about?

When thinking about ‘losing control’ or separating from your baby, what comes up for you? Which scenarios are you particularly thinking about that bring about the feelings of anxiety?

What do you think it is about those particular scenarios that bring about those feelings? What are you afraid is going to happen? Why would that be so bad? How likely is it that that thing is going to happen?

This can be really tricky because, as a first time mum, a lot of this is unknown. So if, for example, you’re worried that someone is going to come in and your baby is going to love them more than you, you don’t have the experience to know that no one can ever replace your role in your baby’s life. Ever. However, what you can do is think about all the things that you offer your baby. Everything that you have with your baby. And softly challenge how likely it is that having someone around them for a couple of hours will erase that.

Is it possible that some of the anxiety is more about what feelings come up in you, than how this will affect your baby?

There is loss here. While having a baby during lockdown is undeniably challenging and intense, it’s also been your norm and become your life.

Separating from your baby is unlikely to damage your relationship with them and unlikely to hurt your baby, it might even be good for them. However, it really might hurt you.

Can you get in touch with any feelings of loss or grief? How do you feel them? Do they remind you of any other experiences or are they new? What do you need when you’re feeling such sadness? How can you be kind to yourself in response to those feelings? How can you soothe yourself so that you can grow into a new space with your baby?

What comes up when you read that? Does that feel possible or totally alien? Do you feel soothed or do barriers come up? Where is that resistance coming from? How is it trying to help you? Often, resistance is around because we feel too afraid to face how we’re feeling. It can feel all consuming and as though we won’t be able to manage if we let it in. Like we will never get out.

I can really understand that and I invite you to go slowly, keep breathing out and only do what you can.

Have you ever noticed that feelings are like the weather?

They do pass. It has never stopped raining. And it has never always been sunny. If we are afraid of the rain so won’t go outside in it, we miss out on so much. And getting totally drenched in it at the wrong time is never fun. However, if you’re up for getting properly sodden and embracing the wet, it can be exhilarating. Usually, though, you have to be able to trust that you will get home and warm and dry at the end. If you can’t trust that, you’re never going to dare to experience the full force of a storm. So maybe you just need to practise. Can you recover from a bit of spitting? From a brief and very light shower? Slowly, slowly building up to really feeling what’s going on for you.

What does losing control mean for you?

What is it that you think you’re in control of right now that you might not be anymore? How does having control of those things help you? What do you think might happen if you let go of that control? Is this a general thing for you or is it specific to your baby?

What’s your understanding of needing to be in control? Do you think it could be related to fear? To an aversion to being ‘out of control’? What does this mean to you? What does it bring up?

Can you imagine any positives coming from letting go of all of the responsibility for a bit?

What might it be like to have a bit more freedom? To have some space for you? Does that sound liberating or terrifying? Or a bit of both?

Do you feel like you deserve time for yourself? Like you’re allowed it? Or does it bring up feelings of guilt or shame? It might be worth looking at my blog post on noticing your mum guilt if that starts to come up.

While I know that your question is about separating from your baby, it seems important to ask how COVID-19 has affected your levels of anxiety generally.

How comfortable do you feel with people being physically closer to you again? Do you feel confident in asserting any boundaries that you need to have to feel safe? If not, what gets in the way?

Is there an element of the need to people please playing a part here? If so, where does that come from? How could you hold onto yourself and your needs, rather than getting lost in meeting other people’s?

Equally, how can you challenge yourself in a safe and gentle way to start experiencing a little bit of discomfort? What do you need to help you with that? Who do you need to get support from? How can you feel confident in giving an inch and only an inch rather than getting lost a mile away?

How have you felt reading this?

What’s come up for you?

Where have your thoughts gone?

I’d love to hear your experiences so please do share in the comments below or on Facebook and Instagram.