We have an ideal about motherhood which says that every woman is overjoyed when she finds that she is going to have a baby. She spends the pregnancy dreaming happy thoughts about the baby. Love is instantaneous, bonding like glue.
This is one side of the picture. Almost every pregnant woman also has some negative feelings, too. Early on, nausea and vomiting can be mild or severe. Clothes that were loose become tight; clothes that were tight become unwearable. Athletic women find that their bodies don’t move as they once did.
The first pregnancy spells the end of carefree youth; social life and the family budget have to be spread thinner. After you have had one or two, the arrival of one more child may not seem like such a drastic change. But a mother’s spirit may rebel at times during any pregnancy. A certain pregnancy may be strained for obvious reasons: perhaps it comes unexpectedly or at a time of disharmony between the parents or serious illness in the family. Or, there may be no apparent explanation.
A mother who truly wants another child may still be disturbed with sudden doubts about whether she will have the time, the physical energy, or the unlimited reserves of love that she imagines will be called for. Or the inner doubts may start with the father, who feels somewhat neglected as his wife becomes more and more preoccupied with the children. In either case, one spouse’s disquiet soon has the other one feeling dispirited also. Each parent may have less to give the other.
These reactions occur in the very best of parents, or they may not. They are part of the normal mixed feelings during pregnancy, and they almost always pass. It may be easier to work through these feelings early, before the actual baby arrives. Parents who have had no negative feelings during pregnancy may have to face them for the first time after their babies are born, at a point when their emotional reserves are fully taken up in baby care.
(Adapted from Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, 9th edition, By Benjamin Spock MD, updated and revised by Robert Needlman MD)