Scared shitless

On preview: I’ve kind of rambled here. Most of this is just aimless self-pity, and I normally don’t do self-pity. But I had to put this all out there somewhere, and I sure as hell can’t post this all on Facebook for my friends and colleagues to see. Read at your own risk - if you don’t like self-pity (I know I don’t), you’ve been warned. But whatever you do, please don’t read it and then just tell me to STFU and man up - I don’t need that shit right now.

As I’ve mentioned before on the boards, my wife and I have three kids now, and are expecting a fourth in a few weeks. And for some reason, this time around, I’m a fucking wreck.

Maybe it has to do with my age (I’m 39), and the fact that I’m not getting any younger. My body just doesn’t feel up to the rigors of fatherhood - I’ve got bad knees, I’m on Prilosec for gastritis, and I’m about 40 lbs overweight. I threw my goddamn back out just playing with my 4 year old son on the floor today. I’m terrified I’ll come down with some debilitating condition that will leave my wife and kids without a husband and father. The irony is that at my last physical, all indicators say that I’m fine, except for my weight. But I can’t shake this sense of dread that comes over me that something’s going to go wrong.

Maybe it’s our finances. I mean, damn - I’m making so much more money than I thought I ever would have in my life. Twice as much as my dad ever made before he retired. And it goes right out the fucking door. Who’d have thought I could spend this much money? And it’s not like I’m going out buying crap all the time. While my wife and I have newish cars (and the loans to go with them), that’s about it - we don’t spend extravagantly on ourselves or our kids. Maybe you can chalk it up to the fact that I haven’t gotten a raise in three years, while the cost of groceries, gas, insurance, utilities, and just about every other expense except our mortgage has gone significantly.

Speaking of which, my job has me stressed out too - I still love my job, but I’ve taken on a lot of disparate projects and I’m feeling stretched thin as onion paper. But there’s really no one else yet equipped to take these projects, and I know my boss is working at least as hard as me, so I can’t ask her. There’s some light at the end of the tunnel, since we just hired a couple folks and hopefully I can offload some of the work, but most likely the work I’ll be offloading will be parts of my job that I originally signed on for, which I’ve really enjoyed - there are very valid reasons for this, since the new folks have some formal domain area expertise while I’m informally trained. What I’ll be left with are the parts of my job I really don’t get much satisfaction from (but am good at). After a long run of having a job that I look forward to doing every day, I’m afraid of becoming another office drone, working for a paycheck and nothing else. And worse, I’m afraid I’ll suddenly become just another name on a payroll spreadsheet, ready for termination should the need arise. And did I mention I haven’t gotten a raise in three years? There’s been some talk about a promotion, but it’s been very slow going.

Then there’s the house - like most folks, we’re not in a position to sell any time soon, and we have a 1500-sq.ft. three bedroom house. The girls share a room, and the boy will soon be sharing a room with his baby brother - I’m not sure how well that will work out, but my daughters are constantly at each others’ throats over every little inch of space, and my 11-year old (who’s on the razor’s edge of puberty) really, really needs her space. But I can’t give it to her, and I feel awful - what the hell am I doing bringing another kid into the house when I can’t get our other kids to get along for an hour straight? I really need about twice the space we have now, and I honestly have no fucking clue how that can happen. Not to mention, our deck is in bad repair, our furnace is getting old, and there’s a hairline crack running up the living room wall, and halfway across the ceiling, and I just know it’s a sympton of something much bigger. But I’ll be goddamned if I can afford to get it looked at now.

And oh yeah - another baby! What. The. Fuck. My wife and I discussed our options when we found out we were pregnant again, because, seriously - we’re in our late thirties, and we can barely keep up with the kids we have. But looking at our other beautiful children, we couldn’t bear to end the pregnancy knowing the joy our kids have given us. It’s not like we’re morally opposed to it, we just couldn’t make that decision.

But now, with the due date 5 weeks away, I’m shitting myself. I am seriously unprepared for this. I didn’t freak out this much with any of my other kids - and we got pregnant with our oldest daughter a week after I had quit a crappy retail job with no other employment lined up. No money, living in a shitty apartment and taking the bus everywhere. But we made the decision and didn’t look back. Somehow, back then, at 27, I knew everything would work itself out. But now, at 39, having gone through this three times, and making 10 times more than I did back then, I am wondering just how the fuck I’m going to cope.

It’s like a perfect storm of stress, and I’m realizing now that I’ve never really had to deal with this much stress. Sure, I’ve gone through stressful times - emergencies with the kids, shitty jobs, 10 years in sales jobs, etc. But I’ve always been able to compartmentalize, put the stress away until I could deal with it in its own way. But I feel like I’ve run out of compartments, and the stress and the pressure is piling up around my feet, and running out the door.

I know everyone has problems, and compared to a lot of folks, my family is very lucky - we have a roof over our heads, I have a good-paying job, and we all have our health. I know that. But I’m still freaking the fuck out, and this is my way of dealing with that. If you’ve read through all this bullshit, thanks for indulging me.

I totally get it. The agitation and anxiety your feeling is almost like nails on a blackboard that just won’t stop. When I felt like you do now, I would drive to work with Pink Floyd on the stereo with the volume all the way up. It was the only way to drown out all the crap that was going on in my head.

We have many things in common. I have three kids. We have a 1500 sq ft house. My husband has a steady job with good benefits, but he hasn’t had any kind of a raise in at least 8 years. We are very careful with our finances, but every month some bill has to be paid late, we have to make do with what ever is in the cupboard because we can’t afford groceries.

I also feel like I should be grateful for a good husband with a job, healthy family, a home. But I just can’t help but feel anxious and frustrated.

Zoloft (antidepressant) has saved my life. I also started seeing a therapist and it was the best decision I ever made. It was insanely hard to make the phone call for my first appointment. I was literally hiding under a blanket when I made the call. I can’t believe how much it helps to go and talk to somebody. I wonder why more people who struggle with one thing or another struggle on their own instead of getting help.

Do not continue to suffer. You don’t get extra points for misery. Call your primary care dr. or call a therapist. If you feel you can’t do it, have your wife or somebody else call. You can feel better. You will feel better.

By the way, its always the last kid born that saves the world.

You know you can do this. You’ve done it before.
This might have nothing to do with your situation, but I freaked out about our third, with no real reason. I was absolutely convinced that there was something wrong with the baby, pretty much right up until she was born and I could see for myself that she was fine. (And this was before the days of routine ultrasound, so I didn’t have that reassurance.)I think it was because the first two were perfect, healthy, beautiful babies, as were the several cousins, and I was afraid our luck just had to run out sometime. It felt like the odds or the law of averages or something like that was going to kick in and kick us right in the head.
But it didn’t. She was just fine, healthy, happy, with all the right parts. And she’s been that way for the last twenty-one years.
It will be alright. Your kids will deal with what they have, and they’ll learn to get along. Most of the time.

Take the requisite deep breaths, and in not too long, the worries will resolve themselves in a sweet new blessing.
Best of luck to you, and congratulations.

I read the whole thing. You’re welcome. :smiley:

Lessee, I’m a 40-something single chick, pretty self-absorbed, etc. So I’m sure other people with experience more closely resembling yours will chime in. But for a point on the graph…

First, I wonder if you feel a little bit better just getting it out? It helps me sometimes just to get it out of my head and on paper.

Yo, I felt my stomach tightening just reading that post. That is seriously a lot going on. Three young children with another on the way? It’s interesting how we’re cool with the unknown etc. when we’re young, then when we make it for some reason it’s not as comforting as it was supposed to be, or maybe we want more, or we have a lot more going on, or we’re getting old.

The work bit…if you’re spending most of each day wondering about how your job situation will go, kinda seeing yourself losing the best parts and getting stuck with the rest, that alone would freak me out (obviously, since I have no kids/car/house/wife/gastritis).

I don’t have any advice except to maybe suggest trying your oldest too: compartmentalizing. .Looking at the whole picture would make anyone freak out. Look at the biggest stressor, and just figure out how to make that one situation better. If it’s the new Crown Prince coming along, what would help you rest easier? If it’s work, can you talk to anyone or do anything so your favorite work doesn’t slip away?

I’m reading a book now about better management of time, and the author points out that when we procrastinate or get stuck, it’s not so much the task itself that repels us; it’s that we don’t want to think about it. It feels like we don’t want to do the task, but we’re really just afraid to/avoiding sitting down and thinking about it.

So that’s all I’ve got, man. Pick just one thing (probably not the crack in the ceiling, gastritis, beer gut, mysterious deadly illness lurking around the next corner, but I could be wrong) and just deal with that.

And if writing it out or talking about it helps, maybe talk to a therapist or someone? I’m pretty sure you’re going to be just fine. Maybe just get a little help?

But I heartily recommend compartmentalizing. Once you solve one problem, the others aren’t as intimidating, I bet.

I wish you the best!!

You have fell into a trap. At least it will start to feel like one eventually.

5 kids? Raising kids can be stressful but 5 kids is an accomplishment, your keeping your family going strong. There is always 2 ways to look at things. Get some more control over your mind, don’t let things take over. That’s where the phrase “lost my mind” comes from, you don’t want to lose yours. Be content with what you have and what you can do. The title makes me think you have a little bit (okay, alot) of paranoia in you, you gotta face your fears… Before you do, you gotta understand what they are, most prescribed medicines won’t do this, they will keep your mind away from the problems. I believe marijuana would help you relax so you can access your problems without the extra unnecessary stress if thats even a possibility for you.

Ultimately the decision is yours, you can apply as much stress as you like to a situation but that doesn’t make it better. Look at a problem and ask yourself how you would react if you didn’t give a shit and then adjust based on importance. Don’t look for the stress first.

Good luck

Thoughts from a childfree person so take it for what it’s worth.

I know it’s hard,but relax. When you start doing this negative self talk tell yourself “NO” and stop the thought right then. Say “NO” out loud if you have to. Then sit up completely straight and breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold it a beat and then let it out slowly through your mouth. Do that about five times. You will be surprised how much better you feel when you’re done.

Once you’re calm take one of the things you’re stressing about and look at it logically. For instance, money. If you’re worried that you’re going to leave the wife and kids you might check with your insurance agent and see about additional life coverage or check at work to see if you can increase it through your company. Then ask your wife to help you by really taking a look at everything you spend money on. Almost all of us can find a way to cut back but you really have to take a hard look at your spending. An easy way to do that is for one month make every single payment or purchase via a debit card so you can look at where the money goes. Even if your purchase is only a muffin and a cup of coffee. Then sit down together and look for ways to save.

Call the cable company and let them know you’ve been getting offers from Direct TV/Dish Network/another cable company and see what they can offer you to stay. Check your vehicle coverage and see if you can get a better deal now. As cars get older and your record stays clean you can often get lower rates but you have to check. Also think about raising your deductible.

I’m sure I’m telling you things you’ve already thought of but the negative thinking starts the cortisol and adrenaline flowing. Then your body kicks in for flight or fight so your respiration increases, your blood flow changes (to the arms and legs), your pupils even dilate along with other reactions. All of this makes your primitive brain kick in and start looking for danger. Over a period of time increased secretions can cause sleep problems, memory and concentration problems, and can knock your immune system off balance. In other words, you’re sabotaging yourself. Making yourself stop and breathe and critically think can turn the tide back to calm.
As for the kids sharing a room, I imagine the fights can be dramatic but in the long term they’re not going to think back as adults and remember “I didn’t have my own room and I hate my parents!” They’re going to think about the good things you do and how hard you and your wife work to make your family successful.

Relax. Breathe. Attack the problem (real or perceived) with critical thinking.

Keep talking to us if it helps.

Remember the advice Saffy gave Eddy (on AbFab) about living from one self-induced crisis to the other :slight_smile:

OK, Crown Prince, the first thing you have to know is this: everything you’re feeling right now is OK! There truly are no wrong ways to feel, only wrong ways to react to those feelings!

Having a child at a later age: I had mudgirl when I was 38, and hubby was 39; no, I didn’t have as much energy to run with her, get down on the floor with her, etc. But I had a ton more patience than I did with the first two. You trade one benefit for another, sometimes.

Money: yeah, it can get rough. Take a good look at where your money goes. If you have three kids already, and don’t indulge in many extravagances, my guess is that a lot of your budget goes into groceries. If you don’t already belong to a membership club (Sam’s Club, Costco, etc) now might be a good time to look into it. With a family your size, buying in bulk can pay off big time! Also, if you’re not clipping coupons, start! It’s amazing how much money I started saving on groceries once I started getting the paper on Sundays. I would use the supermarket ads combined with coupons to plan that week’s meals around what was on sale/had a coupon. For a good bit, when we were really pressed financially, I was feeding a family of five for about $150.00/wk. And that was only about five years ago. Yes, prices have gone up, so I don’t expect you can quite do that anymore, but the grocery budget is probably a lot more flexible than you realize! If you and Mrs. Irony both work outside the home, there’s a great temptation to order carry-out or delivery some nights because you’re both just too exhausted to cook. Getting carry-out or delivery once in a while is fine, but between cooking doubles when it’s easy to do so and then freezing half, having a slow cooker, and meal planning, the treats should be because you want them, not just because you’re both too tired to throw something together!

And don’t for one minute delude yourself into thinking that your kids would live in perfect harmony if only they all had their own ‘space’. I’ve been a sibling, I’ve raised siblings, and it just doesn’t work that way. Hell, my two oldest daughters live in entirely separate households now, and they still fight!

I’m with some others who have already posted: start making a written list of little things you can do to improve your situation. If you’re taking steps towards a positive outcome, your anxieties may fade.

My thoughts will be with you!

Wow. I posted mainly just to get this off my chest (and in my dark mood at the time, I fully expected thread-shittage to ensue), and here you all go and offer heartfelt support. I’m getting all verklempt now - this is why the Dope is the best community online. And I do feel better - both for simply having posted all this, and for the fact that you all have put the time and effort into helping me gain some perspective.

I’ve actually got an appointment to talk with my doctor on Monday - while I just had a physical a few months ago, I figured I needed to talk with a medical professional about the toll that all this stress is taking, and how I can better manage it.

That’s another thing that’s been weighing on me - while we’ve had several ultrasounds by now, and everyone says that the baby is in great shape, with no risk indicators based on the ultrasounds, part of me is really worried that they missed something, especially considering my wife’s age. At least with my last son, they took an amnio to be sure, since one of his ultrasounds showed an indicator for a chomosonal disorder (a thicker than normal neucal membrane) - the amnio came back fine at 20 weeks, and we had no worries. No amnio this time, so rather than thinking “hey, several well-qualified professionals feel there’s low-to-no risk!” I’m thinking “what if everyone involved screwed up gauging the risk?”

Whoa! I said I’m stressed out, not fucking crazy :slight_smile: - we’ll only have 4, and it’s staying that way. There’s no way in hell we’re going through this again - I’m going to see to that (which is of course something I said after the third kid, but this time I’ll slam my gonads in a copy of War & Peace if need be).

Thank you!! It’s funny - I know all this stuff about how stress affects physiology, but seeing someone type it out so matter-of-fact really helps.

I guess my problem is that the stress is making me less patient - I seem quicker to snap at my kids if they want something and I can’t get it for them right now, which is pretty much the modus operandi of all children between the ages of 0 and 12.

We are very good friends with Costco. However, Costco presents a more interesting challenge, since we wind up spending a couple hundred bucks each trip. Sure I know that this stuff will last for a couple months, but there’s never an opportune time to spend $200 when the kids need shoes and the car needs a tuneup.
Thanks again everyone for the sentiments, and advice - I feel ten times better than I did last night. I’m not really used to freaking out like that, but it’s good to know that if I need to, I can always find a sympathetic ear here. I’ll definitely take all your advice to heart.

If I may comment on the room sharing thing. My sister and I shared a room for the first 18 years of her life (I am a year older.) Two people can’t be any more different than we are, and I would never choose someone like her to be a friend. But it didn’t kill either of us to share a small (roughly 9X10) bedroom and single closet. Heck, the room was where we slept and that’s about it. I didn’t have my own room till I got my first apartment at 21. I’m pretty sure it didn’t scar me for life.

At 11, your daughter is old enough to learn that, like Mick says, you can’t always get what you want. Is there a way she and her sister can come up with a plan together for how they’ll share the space? Just a thought.

As for the feelings of loss of control or panic or helplessness or whatever you want to call it, I’m pretty sure we’ve all experienced that to varying degrees in our lives. You don’t have to be a control freak to want to maintain some control, and in the real world, sometimes that ain’t possible. So you do what you can and let go of the rest. You can call it the Serenity Prayer or “Don’t sweat the small stuff” or surviving - you just have to accept that you can only do what you can do. And the whole family needs to realize and accept that this is the way things are.

And for dealing with stress, I find that physical exertion is great. Channel the energy into yard work or moving all the furniture to vacuum or scrubbing grout in the bathroom - mindless physical chores are great for a feeling of accomplishment. At least for me. End of free advice - I’m sure you and your family will do fine.

And put them kids to work! It’s almost lemonade stand season!!! :smiley:

There is A LOT on your plate, and you’d be some kind of freak if it didn’t stress you out at least somewhat. I noted what you said about how you dealt with stress in the past - did you push the stress down and just power through, or did you actually deal with the stress (and the conditions that were causing it)?

As for your kids doubling up in rooms, I know that’s not the norm these days, but they’ll survive. As for them fighting, as far as I can tell, that IS the norm. :slight_smile: Do you have a basement in your house? Building a bedroom for an older child in the basement is another time-honoured tradition that is much cheaper than buying a new house.

Hang in there, dude! One constant in life is that things always change - the good things don’t last forever, but neither do the bad.

Usually in the past, the stress was caused by something that I knew was only a transient issue - missing my quota as a sales rep, a medical emergency with the kids, a bounced check. I’ve been able to keep my shit together long enough to push through the issue, and then it’s done. But this all seems a bit too much, too fast to deal with.

No basement, although if I had one, I think I’d be selfish for once, and build an office/man-cave rather than another bedroom. My “office”, while well-equipped, is in a front room which is open to the rest of the house, which means I get no peace when I’m trying to work.

And being locked into a basement where I could alternate all day between reviewing data migration requirements and playing PS3 sure seems to me like it would provide some serious stress relief.

Hmm, can you start digging? :slight_smile:

That is a lot and I’m afraid your schedule is probably pretty tight as it is. But I wonder if it’s possible for you to find an hour to work out every day? It’s the best de-stresser I can think of, it will help you with the weight issue you’re concerned about, and doing something healthy for yourself seems like it would be a really great way to sort of have an insurance policy that you’ll be there for your kids for the next 20 years or so. At least.

I am not married and do not have children, so I realize this advice is probably really… ignorant. Short of recommending a therapist – which I’m not convinced you really have time or money for either (and exercise might resolve a lot of this for you) – that’s all I can think of.

Well, that and asking for help/support from friends and family or anyone around you that you’re close to and who might be able to take some of the burden off your back for a minute.

Even a half hour would make a difference in weight loss and stress-relief - a brisk half-hour walk around the block after supper (with your wife, in a year or two when the kids are old enough to be left with the eldest one), and you’re good.

Yeah, I was thinking of taking the older kids for a bike ride or a walk/run, play tennis… something. You’ve almost got enough there for a soccer team (so let them invite some friends and get a game going). :wink: Involving the kids with the exercise would be good for them, starting up good exercise habits, you’d get good quality time with them, and you give the wife a semi-break. Alternately, let *her *go take the older kids out for a walk while you tend to the baby. Or you could sign up you and the older kids for a martial arts class and take it with them. (Shameless pandering: I’m seeing a Kung Fu instructor. :cool:)

Work out time ≠ time away from your kids. Rather, it doesn’t have to.

Point well taken. Although the weather here in Oregon has been pretty damn gloomy of late (cause, you know, Oregon), so I haven’t been able to get out to do much walking, and the kids and I can’t play in the backyard because it will be a mud pit until about mid-May. So we’re all a little stir crazy.

I’ve been meaning to actually make use of the elliptical machine we bought a few years ago (or, as I like to call it, “the $800 coat rack”). But working out is hard.:frowning:

Working out is hard. Getting started is the worst part. It truly sucks to look at your routine and try to figure out how you’re going to shoehorn in a 25th hour in the day to work out.

Try to hear our voices in your head every time you think up an excuse not to do it.

“The backyard is a mud pit.”
So you have city parks, right? Go where it’s dry.

“It’s too cold/rainy/gloomy to walk/bike/run.”
So get a family gym membership and take 'em all for an inside workout. Sign everybody up for a Zumba class or something. Run the excess energy outta the rugrats.

I actually think you should just chuck the elliptical because it’s a solitary workout. You can’t involve anyone else and therefore, working out does mean time away from family.

I’d be more inclined to look into a fitness membership where each family member can find their “thing” (maybe someone likes to run, but another likes lifting weights, someone else likes aerobics/step/Zumba/spin, whatever). Or sign up for a regular class so you’re accountable to someone else for meeting your obligation (you reserved space in the Daddy/Daughter step class, so go use it). I found that signing up for specific classes (I take pole dancing at a dance studio) helped me get in the habit because I thought of it as having an appointment and I’m pretty Type A about keeping my commitments. Commit fun/exercise time to the kids and they will hold your feet to the fire, right?

Oh, and P.S.

I’ve learned recently that where I live – in the Florida Panhandle – averages twice as much rain as in the Pacific Northwest annually. Rain and gloom ≠ good excuses.

Rain won’t hurt or kill anyone. Put on windbreakers and go for a walk. I willgive you permission to slack on this if you get frequent Tropical Storms or Hurricanes. :wink:

Damn you and your Vulcan logic, Dogzilla. :slight_smile: