Sharna Burgess is a dancer, Dancing with the Stars coach, and current partner to Brian Austin Green. The couple welcomed their son, Zane, last summer. It was Brian’s fifth child but Sharna’s first. Since it’s her first, she’s going through the parent crash course, which can be terrifying, mainly for how fast it comes at you. Like most new moms, Sharna is posting things that have surprised her – both good and bad – about becoming a mom. Over the weekend, She posted an Instagram about something she’s calling “intrusive mom thoughts.” She talked of worrying about everything that could happen to Zane and how, as parents, caring for this human we love so much can be overwhelming.
Intrusive mom thoughts….
This is a real thing. Honestly I thought it was something wrong with my brain at first. These super dark thoughts of all the things that could go wrong. All the ways I or life could accidentally hurt my baby. Falling down stairs holding him, sickness, a car accident.. the list is long but I won’t share it. If you know you know. 5 months in and I still get them but I have learned to tame them and understand them and most of all.. realized I am not alone. That last one was a huge relief. I guess it makes sense too, we have this massive responsibility suddenly upon us when we leave that hospital… in a diaper.. sleep deprived, emotionally charged but also depleted, trying to piece ourselves back together and let’s not forget .. in pain. That new responsibility is filled with so much love, wonder and awe but nobody warns you about the equal amount of fear that now lives within you. It’s the most excruciating love you’ve ever felt and its overwhelming, at least for me it was. But now I have tools that I wanna share with all my mamas that may need it like I did/do.
1. Deep cleansing breaths taking in as much air as you can and hold as you say “I release all thoughts that do not serve me” then control that breathe out imagining those words and the feeling they bring leaving you. Repeat repeat
2. When I need a quicker fix I physically swipe my hand in front of my eyes and say “no” and imagine that image being destroyed and gone. I shake it off and call in a memory that I can’t wait to make with Zane. All of the firsts that he has coming.
These are just 2, and they help me tremendously so I hope that they help you too. I have more if you want me to share xx
You’re doing great mama, remember that 🤍
As I have said plenty of times, I was woefully unprepared for any of what came with being a parent. I know what Sharna is talking about. I didn’t consider them intrusive mom thoughts, although that’s a good name. I thought that was what parents were talking about when they got emphatic about how much they love their kid. I always assumed the love would be a Disney, heart-swelling with joy and warm love. But it’s an oppressive, heart-clenching, fearful love that has you watching Taken for notes. Unlike Sharna, I assumed every parent felt the same thing. I remember sharing one of my truly darker thoughts with a friend whose kid was the same age as mine. I prefaced it with, “do you ever worry that… “ and he looked at me, ashen, and said, “I will now!” I hate to break it to Sharna, but she sounds surprised to still be having these thoughts after 5 months. I’m on year 18. My mother is on year 60. Intrusive parent thoughts come in the Welcome Basket and never leave.
Sharna has many lovely posts about Zane and how much she’s enjoying him, of course. And there are plenty of happy, warm, joy-filling love moments too. She and Brian will spend their first holiday with Zane, that’s always magical. I’m trying to end this on a more positive note but come on, you know not to come to me about the joys of motherhood by now. The good thing is Sharna is aware these dark moments are invasive and she’s working to manage them. And it’s nice she offered some tips on how to deflect them. Let us know if those worked for you. Zane’s cute, too.
Photo credit: Instagrama nd Getty Images
Reading this was painful, but probably a good thing. I have anxiety but have been doing better these last few years. I’m pregnant with my first and I’m really scared the anxiety I’ve fought so hard to control will surge in new and different ways.
I also suffer from extreme anxiety and it was really tough, both pregnancies I’ve had plus the years going on. However I did find the strength to find ways to cope. I do suggest talking on what stresses you, if you can. I wish you all the luck.
I have a theory that if you go into pregnancy knowing you have anxiety you are at least better prepared to recognize the signs of PPA and have some tools to address it. You’re not necessarily looking for a therapist for the very first time as a brand new sleep-deprived mom who is taking care of a baby 24/7. Those of us going into it blind like Hecate said, thinking it’s going to be a heart-warming love have a lot more work to do, and it can take longer to realize that living in a constant state of vigilance and fear ISN’T what being a parent is for everyone or has to be.
That sounds terrible?!
I do that, but I’ve done it my whole life with my entire family, so by the time I had kids, it was nothing new. My husband went for a long ride on his bike and he didn’t pick up his phone when I called. I kept calling until he picked up and then muttered something about being relieved that he wasn’t in a crash. My 16 year old overheard and looked at me, flabbergasted. “He didn’t pick up and you went THERE?” I’ve always been a worst case scenarios person – it’s exhausting.
I think the same way as you, it’s exhausting. When my kids were babies I used to actually put my hand on their chests when they were sleeping to make sure they were still breathing. My anxiety just got worse and worse and then my youngest was diagnosed with anaphylaxis to several things so the anxiety and intrusive thoughts that he is going to die just got worse.
I used to stress so much when my husband worked underground and if he was late coming home I always thought the worse.
I had terrible thoughts during my pregnancy/their early years. I would imagine me tripping while holding them when going down stairs. I would wake up during the night panicked that they had died and have to go check. Like ear to their mouth hand to their chest check. It never got easier with any of them (3). I’ve been good the last few years as they are older, but my oldest is 14 and venturing out more on his own and will be driving soon and I can’t imagine the anxiety that will bring.
I have intrusive thoughts about things that could happen to my pets, like falling down the stairs while holding them, and when I am away from the house, and it can be very overwhelming. I don’t have kids but I know I would have those same feelings but like x10000 if I did. I honestly don’t know if I could handle it
My kids are teens and I still worry about them constantly, but the worry I had after my first kid was born was at a different level – I worried about him getting hurt or that I would somehow hurt him. It was terrifying and I was afraid to tell anyone. Then someone mentioned postpartum OCD – it’s a form of postpartum depression but doesn’t get talked about as much. Once I started realizing that’s what I had, I was able to research how to deal with it. The best thing I read was something that said it was just my brain’s way of identifying possible risks to my baby. For some reason, that helped me a lot. I worried I’d have it again with my second kid but luckily I didn’t. I just had the “normal” level of fear and worry. It sounds like Sharna may be suffering from postpartum ocd too.
Long, long ago I read a Vanity Fair cover profile on Jessica Lange and something she said struck me. She was always fearless. Fearless. Until she had children and fear came into her life. All the time.
I’ve dealt with intrusive thoughts on and off for as long as I’ve had anxiety, and it worsened when I developed OCD as an adult (funny enough, triggered by adopting cats; I never care what happened to my house while I was gone until I got them). It’s so important to talk about because those thoughts can be so dark and scary and it’s embarrassing to talk about, because you assume you’re the only person who has them.
My kids are 9 and 6 and this is constant. I also go down internet rabbit holes about all kinds of things that could happen. I did NOT know other people did this too!
This is EXACTLY how I felt. Before I had my daughter, I was fearless. After, lived in fear. I loved her too much! It actually hurt. This was 28 years ago, but I was so anxious that I got on Prozac. It helped. 🤷♀️