You are here

Pregnant & Anxious Step-Mom

Crystalmuffin's picture

Do you ever feel anxious even though nothing is happening? Do you ever feel like you’re close to landing on something but no matter how hard you try, the pieces don’t seem to fit together – don’t seem to resolve into a clear picture, and you’re left spinning?


I feel like this most of the time. I oscillate between three general emotions. 1) Extremely imbittered/irritated, 2) playful 3) anxious. I worry about what is going to happen this weekend, all week long. Why? Unfortunately, I have a hard time accepting my step-daughter. And I tend to hate myself for it or beat myself up about every little “negative” emotion. I find it difficult to stop this thought process.


Generally I spend a hunk of my time, especially on the weekend (mainly Friday) feeling anxious and resentful that this is happening again. I think, It’s not fair. I try so very hard during the week to prepare. I think, over and over, of ways to approach the situation and be kinder, act more relaxed, and learn to go with the flow of things – but somehow this doesn’t happen.

What is this feeling of impending doom? I say, it makes no sense. I don’t hate my step-daughter, I’ve helped raise her for the past 3 years and she’s only 5 and 1/2!  What is making me feel this way?


Do I resent her mother? Do I feel left out? Do I feel out of control of the situation? Do I feel like I don’t get a say in how to raise/discipline her? Am I afraid of saying the wrong thing to her, am I afraid of her not liking me? Do I feel like I’m under pressure? Do I feel out of sorts? …YES. All of these things. But that isn’t the point. What I want to know is how to overcome these feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps the answer to how depends on the answer to why.


Why do I not feel good enough?


Why can’t I just “fix” this problem.


I need help... It’s becoming even more difficult now, since I’m pregnant with a daughter of my own.


I want nothing more than to be relaxed and supportive, nice and generally easy going. But then, I only have step-daughter on the weekends (my days off.) DH only has Sunday off. Basically it’s stop and go, there’s no time to solidify the rules, there isn’t even much time to bond. It’s just an line of questioning an attention seeking behavior the moment she gets in the door. How do I deal with this?


Stepmama2321's picture

Give yourself some grace, pregnancy hormones make you a little crazy. When I got pregnant with my first, I began dreading my SD visits. It was like that for a couple months after giving birth as well, until issues were addressed and resolved with my SO. Then I began liking her visits again and genuinely enjoyed seeing my DD play and interact with her. Then, I got pregnant again and slowly the resentment started building again. I'm not sure if my reasoning is rational or if it's hormones again. We will find out in a few months after baby is born if these feelings go away lol. I sure hope so because I hate dreading her weekends. 

stepemma's picture

I am having this same thing, our 2nd daughter is now 2 months old and I'm still feeling resentful and dreading SS's visits....I hope you are right and it's just hormones. 

BethAnne's picture

If these feelings are overwhelming then I would seek some help. Talking to your partner about it is a good place to start, but mention it to your doctor or see a therapist too so that they can help you deal with this. Just because you are pregnant doesn't mean that you have to put up with unpleasant feelings without any help. It is hard to ask for help, but it is worth it to have the hope that things could get better as you are working with others to try to find something that helps you. 

MiserableSM101's picture

I too had these same feelings while pregnant and they only got worse after I had my daughter back in July. I dread the days sd4 is coming here. And it got to the point I would get mad when people called her my daughters sister and said they looked just alike (especially because they don't, my daughter looks exactly like me) I've been going to therapy and it helps a little bit.  Maybe you would benefit by going to therapy? 

stepemma's picture

Time also helps. My older daughter is now 2 and when she was first born, it drove me CRAZY when family told me that she looked just like SS - now I am able to enjoy that fact that they look alike, because I know they both look like their daddy (who is a great dad). But it definitely feels like a blow when someone tells you your first child looks like someone else's. As much as it still drives me crazy when SO's family calls my older daughter "the middle child", because I don't consider her a middle child, I consider her the oldest child in our family, as SS is not around enough to make her a middle child, I try and take a step back and look at things through DD eyes, I see how much she loves her brother and how much fun they have together. Doesn't make my life any easier, and doesn't make the resentment go away, but it gives me a moment of understanding and brings me joy to see DD happy. 

Stepmama2321's picture

I have the same feelings about my oldest child being considered the middle child. She's the "middle child" 4 days a month.... 

SeeYouNever's picture

I think the problem is you are watching SD on Saturdays on your own. 

I've gotten over those feelings like you have by deciding not to care, I don't care if my SD likes me, I'm not involved in any parenting or decision making so I don't concern myself with caring. I'm never my SDs primary caregiver so I have this luxury, you don't. It's very hard to get over these feelings if you are a caregiver. You have to stay engaged if you're left alone with her. You need to figure out what you're doing once you give birth because if you have to spend your days off taking care of SD instead of enjoying your own child because your DH isn't home you're going to come to resent him.

strugglingSM's picture

I feel a lot of this...and now DH is around all the time when SSs are here (in the beginning he was working more on weekends). 

I start to feel a sense of dread and anxiety on the Sunday before SSs arrive, because I know that my free weekend is ending and I won't see another free weekend for a month. I also start to fight with DH on the Thursday before SSs arrive, because I'm dreading all the drama and disruption they bring to my life. 

I haven't solved any of my problems and unfortunately don't have a solution. I feel that what you're feeling (that I'm also feeling) is the number 1 issue for stepmoms and also the hardest thing to understand if you haven't been in that situation. Having Skids, particularly if their mother is in any way high-conflict, controlling, or doesn't respect boundaries, is hugely disruptive to a stepparent's life and requires you to give up control of so many things that non-stepparents never have to give up control of. It requires a huge amount of flexibility and resilience to be able to deal with that and unfortunately, I think you can only develop that over time, through lots of personal work, and give yourself a lot of grace in getting there. 

JRI's picture

I'm 75 and way past the stepkids arrival each Friday but I remember the dread and depression I started feeling about Wednesday each week.  My SKs weren't really bad kids but there were 3 of them, they were boisterous and worst of all, they were a permanent reminder of high conflict BM.  You are correct to say that being a stepparent requires huge amounts of flexibility and resilience which, sadly, I didnt always have.  I dont know the answer.  Counseling helped me, I had kind of checked out emotionslly, and counseling encouraged me to re-engage.  It also encouraged my assertiveness and most importantly, emphasized more one-on-one time with DH.  I feel for all the stepparents out there who dread "The Arrival". I think part of it is the transition factor because by the time my 3 left, it wasnt so bad.  Looking back, I have a feeling the transition was probably hard on BM when they came back and also hard on the kids, themselves.  No winners here.

Crystalmuffin's picture

I’ve tried counseling and I’m currently looking for a new counselor –  because I’m not getting a lot of relief, to be honest. I find the biggest obstacle for me right now is the transitioning (again, the “stop and go” nature) and it being on my days off, without fail, every time. When she was younger I didn’t mind it, as she’s getting older she has a ton of energy and she is rather rebellious.


Which would be fine, I can handle spunk -- if it weren’t for the fact that, every time she returns it’s increased to some undetermined amount that I’m simply not prepared for. It makes me nervous that these behavioral issues continue to increase, because she’s at home with BM with a totally different set of rules *most* of the time.


I honestly feel like if she could just live with us full time it would be better. I wonder am I wrong for thinking that or what?

Is this just a phase? I mean I try to be understanding, I truly do but the main thing is that I’m afraid of not being able to control my disappointment or my irritation with her in those instances.


I try to swallow my pride and make it work but I feel like I just keep liking her less and it makes me feel like a bad person. It feels like something must be wrong with me. I believe that would be due mainly to internalized shame about "negative" feelings (again), and I have to let go of those reactions and identifying with those feelings to such a high degree.


It's just hard, and I already have issues with depression and anxiety before adding this into the mix.


I admit it helps seeing others go through the same thing but it's disheartening that the problems are so prevalent and deeply rooted.


strugglingSM's picture

As someone who has seen several counselors over the course of my stepparent life (and who never felt the need for a counselor before becoming a stepparent), finding a good counselor is difficult, not because counselors don't know how to navigate these situations, but because, as more than one of my counselors have told me, my feelings and reactions are normal, so other than radical acceptance, it can be difficult to get relief. I've seen many counselors, because I'll go and then stop when it doesn't feel like it matters. I'm now seeing a counselor and I had hoped I'd have more goals or targets to work through, but I'm back primarily in talk therapy, which is sort of helpful, but I don't feel like it's moving me forward. The only thing that helps me out is knowing that soon enough, my Skids will stop coming around. That will be sad for DH, but it won't be for me. 

JRI's picture

I think the transition was a big part of it.  I realized that once all 3 moved in full time (long story) when I stopped being so tense.   During the transition years, it felt like aliens were coming into my home.  By "alien", I dont mean in a derogatory way, but children with a different background, being raised with different standards, thought different things were okay, couldn't understand where I was coming from.  As the weekend progressed and they got into our groove, things smoothed out.

I had behavioral issues with my SD, too.  I'd love to say it got all better but it didnt.  She was the oldest, the divorce seemed to affect her the most plus being the same sex as troubled BM seemed to be a factor, too.

I wish I had a cure-all but I don't.  DH and I just went day-to-day.  We had 5 kids here with a 6-year age range from oldest to youngest.  We were hanging on for dear life.  Lol.

Hang in there.  The days go by and the kids grow up.  Good luck Crystalmuffin.

Stepmama2321's picture

You always offer a lot of great insight into these dynamics. This forum is nice to know that we're not alone and not terrible for feeling this way even if the skid isn't awful. I didn't realize so many users on here see a therapist to help cope with some of their feelings and it's got me considering it. I read on here pretty often and vent to a friend and a sister but I know they get tired of hearing my broken record. 

1dad4kids's picture

I get this. Not for SS10, but because of BM. I never know what will happen so I am constantly anxious. I'm a bit opposite of you, however, in that my anxiety runs all the time except once SS10 is here. Once he's here, I feel calm and I'm able to relax. I don't need to worry about  at pick up or drop off, or him showing up with some new ailment or story of something that he did with/at BM's that I can only perceive as an intentional act and not an act of love for him. 

Once he's here, once whatever he has to "tell us about" is over, once all the settling in happens, then I relax. 

I hate my BM.