The trauma of parenthood

There was a great article in the New York Times a couple of days ago about the “trauma of parenthood.”

I wanted a baby all my life, probably since I was a baby myself. I spent many long nights in my thirties despairing that my life would never work out and I would never be able to become a mom.

But even so, no matter how much I wanted a baby–oh my goodness, when the baby was born it was a shock. I was all stitched up due to tearing and in pain, and instead of going home and resting after a long and tiring labor, it was like being tethered to a car alarm that went off every two hours. Suddenly I was a prisoner. I couldn’t leave the house, there was no night and no day, it was winter, and there was no reward for the 24/7 drudgery; newborns can’t smile, laugh, coo, play with you, or even recognize you. I could no longer do any of the things I enjoyed–and I don’t mean like having fancy dinners, I mean like buying groceries or taking a bath. I had no idea whether things would ever get better. I was probably awash in postpartum hormones.

Those weeks were some of the harshest weeks of my life, and I felt so alone.

After the first few weeks things got better, and then they got worse again. At eleven weeks I was back at work, and at twelve weeks my dad was struck down with brain cancer and I lost my family support. At seven months my husband began medical residency. So now here I am, flying totally alone.

Yes I love my baby, and I look forward to the future, and yes she was worth it and the best investment I ever made.

But the experience of parenthood was and remains traumatic also. I never really understood what my parents must have gone through until I went through it myself.


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