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So why did I feel so guilty? At that March moms meetup, my newborn lay contentedly on her back, in deep contemplation of a ceiling fan. She seemed peaceful, I thought. Then, self-consciously, I realized the other mothers were all rattling finely-crafted wooden toys in front of their babies. Was my baby already under-stimulated because I was being lazy? Or – and this only occurred to me much later – could it be that, in moving towards acceptance of the complicated nature of modern motherhood, we’ve made it impossible to enjoy the simple, good moments?
It is a life-saving sea change, the way mothers now talk to one another about dark feelings, about blue periods, about how what we are doing is hard. You don’t have to be swallowed by the scary swells of postpartum depression to have days when parenting is sucky. Now that my baby is nearly school-age (sniffle!), I wish I could say to myself back then: Don’t feel guilty. Just enjoy it, and take this in: that some parts of this will be hard, and their difficulty will surprise you. If it’s not immediately postpartum, it will come at some point. And know that it will be hard to share these feelings without wondering if they make you a crappy mother. But you can do it.
Should you be one of the lucky ones to experience Postpartum Blissed-Out-High, take my advice: Save up those moments of pure, narcotic love, like coins in your emotional bank, so that when your own personal difficulties come, they will be there to feed you and your family.