Friday, December 12, 2008

"The Second Nine Months"

My dear friend, Beth, lent me "The Second Nine Months," by Vicki Glembocki, after a real heart-to-heart conversation about how hard being a mom to little ones is and how neither of us had that immediate bond and ooey-gooey feelings for our babies when they were first born (or for several months afterward).

I wish I would have read this book while I was pregnant. I wish I would have read it again when Laina was itty-bitty and her and I (and sometimes my husband, too) would end up crying together because we were so distraught and just didn't know what to do with eachother.

Vicki writes how everything about being a new mom was alien to her. About how all her other new mom friends seemed to have it all together and be in total, rapturous love with thier babies. About how she loved email more than her daughter. About how her daughter, Blair, cried and cried and cried and she couldn't figure out how to soothe her (man have I been there). About how she felt like a failure at this motherhood thing. So much of this book I could completely relate to. Looking back on the first several months of my own daughter's life, I was so overwhelmingly in the same place.

There were surveys that Vicki had to fill out at her baby's well-child appointments to screen for postpartum depression. They never identified her with depression. I never had such surveys, but I remember feeling similar - I just wanted someone to diagnose that something was wrong with me, so that there would be a valid reason why I felt the way I did. A valid reason why I didn't love my baby. A vaild reason why I really didn't feel any emotion at all. Sometimes anger, sometimes frustration, sometimes sadness. But mostly nothing, mostly apathy, mostly wanting to crawl up into the fetal position and cry and be swallowed up into a black hole, never to return.

So many people tell you before hand that having a baby is hard. They say it's "the hardest job you'll ever love". But that sounds so gushy. Like, ya, it's so hard but it's so rewarding. Well when you're in those first months, there is nothing rewarding about it. It's just hard and it just sucks. Literally, sucks everything out of you. There was one couple Jay and I met at a party when I was newly pregnant (or maybe we were not even pregnant yet, I can't remember), who told us like it is: They said "don't have kids, we're not kidding". And you could just tell they really weren't kidding. I think they are the only people who conveyed a real sense of how hard it is.

I can remember one meeting with our church mom's group where the speaker was talking about how hard it is to be a mom, but in the end said we love our children so much and asked how many of us would, of course, put ourselves in harm's way to protect our children. Well I could not honestly say that I would at that time. I didn't know for sure that I wouldn't, but I couldn't say for sure that I would sacrifice myself to save my baby. I wasn't sure I loved her that much. It sounds horrible to say, and at the time it made me feel like the worst mother on the planet, for even having the thought that I might stand idly by and let my own child get run over by a bus.

By the grace of God somehow we got through those first months, and just like Vicki describes, somehow along the way, little moments happen where you realize that you do love your baby, after all. Little by little you form a real relationship with this new little being that you are mother to. I can honestly say that it's only been in the last few months that I feel like I am truly connecting with my daughter. Truly loving her. Truly loving staying home with her and nurturing her and watching her grow.

By writing this, I don't want to dismiss those who really are naturally and blissfully in love with their babies from the beginning. I know that it happens and I know that it's wonderful. But for some of us, that's just not how it is. And I don't think that new moms should have to feel alienated or like there's something wrong with them if they don't have that immediate gushy lovey feeling to carry them through the tough times. So to any new moms who might be feeling anything less than bliss, read "The Second Nine Months". It's poignant, it's funny, it's sad, but most of all, it's real.


The Espinozas said...

well said, jenna. i am glad your last strtch has been what you describe.

Mike and Rachel said...

darn it. i guess when you are gushy in love from the beginning it sucks when you feel like you are gradually falling out of love with your little one(s). Although it takes one knowing look from AJ to turn it all around. Parenting is hard, but I do love it and I would totally jump in front of a bus for my kids, yours too actually. :) Thanks for sharing this. I'll add it to my library list.

Amber said...

Hey Jenna! Thanks for the eye opening post to someone who isn't a mom. I had no idea there was even the chance that new mom's wouldn't feel an immediate bond with their baby.

I currently have 7 pregnant friends, and I'm going to forward them this entry.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Tara said...

Thanks for your honest assessment, Jenna! I have been lucky to have had several friends tell me all about their fetal position moments, but the thought never even occured to me that I might not fall in love with Claire the moment she is born. It's good to hear that. It's also good to hear that that stage doesn't last forever.

Beth said...

Excellent post, Jenna! One of the things I love about you most is your honesty and openness. I'm so glad you loved the book and that you blogged about it!