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16 wks, feeling detached and scared, should I be doing this?

(18 Posts)
alikat724 Mon 13-Jun-11 12:53:21

I am 37, 16 wks with my first pregnancy, happily married but without any parental or family support as I am Australian and my husband's parents have both passed away. The baby is planned, DH is over the moon, we are financially OK and everything but apart from a little burst of excitement when I heard the hearbeat at last week's midwife appt, I am just really scared and not feeling "maternal" at all.

My own mother was a complete waste of space, with most of us (6 kids) ending up in care/suffering abuse, so I have really mixed feelings about motherhood. I know logically that I am different from her in just about every way possible, but I still have this huge, uncontrollable fear that I've inherited her complete lack of a maternal instinct, and that when my baby arrives I will feel...nothing. My husband has a son and goes on about unconditional love and I just don't get it at all. Add to this all the (what I assume are) more normal fears around "how will I cope", with no parents/siblings/family carers to support me, and how my child will cope when I have to go back to work in my very demanding career, and I am becoming more depressed by the week.

I would be very grateful to hear from other mums who have any advice on bonding, or anyone really who has felt a similar sense of detachment at this stage of pregnancy.

Thanks in advance.

buttonmoon78 Mon 13-Jun-11 13:21:22

You poor thing. I don't have any empathy in terms of experience, but will bucket loads of sympathy do?

Your lack of a decent family life is obviously colouring your current experiences, but they needn't be the way things will be. Similarly your husband's lack of family is tough, but you can get around this.

What is your support network like generally? Does your dh have any siblings? Do you have a good team of mates?

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes (in every sense). Even if you have no role models amongst your friends, just sitting for an hour at the park on a Saturday afternoon will show you how diverse a group parents are - yet we all manage to bring our children up, for the most part, well and happy. For that matter, hang about here a bit - no two people are the same!

How are you financially? Not being nosey! Just wondering if it's worth investigating a doula type person who could help you manage the later stages of pg as well as the birth and maybe even the first few weeks with your new baby. Again, there's a lot of variation, but there are quite a lot of older women who go into it so you could end up (after shopping about) with a real grandma type person who you could rely on for all those things many of us take for granted with our mums.

Pregnancy is overwhelming. The biggest bit of advice I can offer is to try (ha!) and relax a bit. Stop overanalysing and rely on your instincts a bit. It will be ok. You will be a good mother - you won't get everything right first time, but I'm shortly due #4 and I still make mistakes. Most mistakes are fine as they're so small they don't even know you've made them!

And you will cope with work. It will be a challenge to get organised, but I'm guessing you're probably pretty organised anyway? You'll need good childcare, but that's sortable.

Cut yourself some slack. Doubts and fears are perfectly normal. Don't let them take away any joy you have over being pg. If you feel like you're sinking rather than swimming, maybe it's worth having a chat with your gp/mw? Did you have counselling for your childhood traumas? Perhaps it's worth getting a relationship with a counsellor going now so that you have your coping strategies ready for when you hopefully don't need them!

Take care.

goodnightmoon Mon 13-Jun-11 14:24:38

I totally understand. I had very strong feeling along these lines even later - maybe 22-24 weeks. It was a much wanted pregnancy after having had two miscarriages and two failed IVFs yet part of me was still unsure if I even wanted to be a mother. (My son is 3 now and I was 38 when I had him.) My family was (is) also in another country, though I do have some support from my husband's mother and sister.

I also had a rocky relationship with my mother, who I really love now but I still think she was a crap mother to me and my brother growing up!

Try to stop worrying and analysing how you will feel at every step of the way because the reality is you just don't know until you're there. Even now, let yourself have these feelings without the guilt. Like me, you might be worried about what it means to be a mother and losing your independence. For me, it turned out fine (so far). I knew I wasn't cut out for stay at home motherhood so I went back to work after 11 months and got a great nanny. My son loves her and really seems to thrive on having different people in his life caring for him (his grandmother looks after him one day too.) I love my job so I never looked back. If you find it impossible with your current job/career, you will find an alternative that does work.

Two tips: the guilt trip is just beginning - there are plenty of people who will make you feel bad about every little thing you do as a mother from day 1 - breastfeeding, sleep training, etc. IF YOU LET THEM. Try to draw upon your life that has got you through 37 years so far and have faith in your own instincts and decisions.
second: get some help if you can afford it. I hated a lot of those 11 months at home, particularly the first 6 months, because my son was on no routine, never seemed to nap, and it felt like I was only just surviving. Just a babysitter once a week for a few hours can make a massive difference.

Finally, don't worry too much about unconditional love. I have incredible love for my son but I think the unconditional love thing for your children can be over-dramatised. I don't remember suddenly having some surge of mama cat-ness enter me. I just was thrilled to have this little guy in my life and to be there for him each step of the way as he has grown. I'm still my own person though - he hasn't subsumed me!

Best wishes, you'll be fine and you're not alone.

alikat724 Mon 13-Jun-11 15:52:14

Thank you both so much!

Firstly, buttonmoon. Pregnancy is indeed overwhelming, and I am very much used to being in control, so the whole fear factor of just not knowing if I will be able to cope is debilitating in itself.

I have a group of wonderful girlfriends, although being mostly late 20s/early 30s, single and/or very career minded, our common interests of wine, cheese, travel, party frocks and great shoes are becoming less relevant as I move into a very different space. DHs sisters live in Norfolk and Essex, and we are in Surrey, so logistically a bit of a challenge. But – I had never heard of a doula, thank you for this fantastic suggestion! Even just a few minutes of googling has yielded an option that I never even knew existed, which I will definitely be pursuing.

And goodnightmoon – it is such a relief to hear that I'm not the only woman who has fallen pregnant and then started wondering if I actually want to be a mother! Your advice is so helpful, particularly on the unconditional love point.

As you both point out, parenting is a very individual matter, so I will try to keep in mind that my experience is not supposed to be the same as anyone else's. And I will definitely be spending a lot more time on mumsnet!

buttonmoon78 Mon 13-Jun-11 15:55:59

Good - I'm glad that we have opened some doors for you. When you're used to being in control, it can be a scary time. However, what can appear overwhelming choice can easily be turned to your advantage and provide you with endless opportunities to research and form your own ideas and opinions.

You will find your way, it will be ok. And there's always loads of people on here to give you lots of advice and input - some useful, some less so grin

Nanny01 Mon 13-Jun-11 16:13:35

Hi alikat724
Just wanted to say that I think what you are experiencing is normal. I am an only child and my mother described herself as not being maternal( her words not mine). I still crave her approval which I will never give. She isn't touchy feely either something I am.

When I had my first I was in my 20's it was had as dh and I were young and had to live with my parents. My mum never supported me in the way I wanted.
The One thing that helped as I know no one who had baby was the NCT antenatal classes; you need to book those now or very soon. Over the weeks we went it helped dh and I connect together as a couple and gave me the nurturing that I craved and needed. There where 6 couples and we all met up lots/ most were in their 30's or 40's but we were all first time parents.

When ds1 was born I didn't connect with him instantly but with in a few weeks I did. Suddenly my mums love wasn't so important as I had my own family. I am expecting our 5th and know how enabling having your own child can be. My parents are chalk and cheese but I am me and not my mother. By the way she smoke and drank through her pregnancy and my childhood with me. I have done neither of those things. I have made mistakes but I try to put my kids first in life.

I would also suggest that one of the following would be helpful after baby is born. If you can pay for a cleaner, then you won't be stressing yourself about the mess. A mothers help for a few weeks who would do a little house work and some child care( supervised). Find out now about mother and baby groups now as some will have waiting lists.

Hope this helps

Ineedcake Mon 13-Jun-11 16:20:21

Hi alikat724

Just another one to say I think I felt the same around that stage in my pregnancy, even though I actually have a pretty good relationship with my own mum. For me, it was just as I was announcing it to everyone and bump was starting to show - even though we'd been trying for a baby for ages I suddenly felt very weird about the whole thing. I remember crying to my husband that I was worried I wouldn't love our baby enough, and that made me really sad.

I think things got better when I felt 'properly' pregnant and started to feel him kicking. And the love and protectiveness just grew from there. But like goodnightmoon said above I never felt a sudden great rush of love, it just seems to get stronger all the time (my baby is 7 months old now btw and I feel incredibly close to him!).

One thing I enjoyed during my pregnancy was yoga (started at 17 weeks actually), as it gave me time to really reflect and think about my baby (and relax of course!). My teacher was also a doula so she was a great source of info and reassurance, and it's good to share any concerns with other mums-to-be - quite often there are people worrying about exactly the same things as you smile

Hope that helps a little.

pregnantmimi Mon 13-Jun-11 21:01:16

I think your a bit low with your hormones and bit down.

The fact that your thinking your mum was a bad mother means your not ok if you were you wouldnt even be worrying about it.

It ok to feel down and I could say focus on the good things but if you feel low you feel low so look after yourself do nice things for yourself like massaging your belly listening to music connecting with your baby.

Take your mind off bad memories make good onesxxx

aethelfleda Mon 13-Jun-11 21:09:47

Hiya- if you have less than great experiences from childhood it's totally normal to worry that you will fall short as a mum yourself- this is NOT the case. With your first pregnancy/baby everything is so new and different that many mums feel a bit spaced out by the whole thing- lot of mums take time to develop feelings for their babies/embryos.

The best thing you can do for yourself is try not to feel guilty- you are in control of your actions and will be a good enough mum (none of us are perfect so don't try to aim for that!) there is loads of practical advice on the mumsnet boards, and do keep an eye on your mental health, get support early if you think you are actually depressed at any point, And be kind/forgiving of yourself. This is a long and exciting journey for you and everyone doing it has different ways to handle things. Where you feel your mum slipped up, make a concious decision to act in a different way so that you and your child(ren) have a happier life. Good luck!

apricotears Mon 13-Jun-11 22:30:12

I felt like this too alikat. This will be our first LO, so I can only speak of my experience so far.

This LO was planned for us, but I was very shocked how de-void of emotion I was at the beginning of the pregnancy. I remember talking to DH, explaining how worried I was because I felt nothing towards this little life inside of me.

I can't actually explain how much this changed when I had my 20 week scan (this was our first one). Actually seeing that little baby squirm and move around changed everything for me. In that moment I knew, I loved my baby so much and would do anything for him.

We also found out the sex of the baby and I feel like this has helped immensly, as I feel I have been able to bond with bubby in a more personal way.

I know that it is different for everyone, but try not to be too hard on yourself. The fact that you are thinking so much about this, shows that your heart is in the right place. In time, I am sure you will find yourself in a better place and make a wonderful mum!

OrangeGloss Tue 14-Jun-11 06:21:39

Im so sorry to hear you're going through this. I don't know if it will help but here's my story:
Before we started trying I was having awful fears that I would be like my mum for similar reasons to you. I had a few counselling sessions and started to feel better, but still had the underlying fear. I didn't feel 'connected' to my bump at all until I started to feel kicks, which turned it all around, followed by my 20 week scan which sealed the deal. I remember being in tears to my dh asking how I could love something so much I hadn't even met. It was then I knew I'd be myself, not a copy of my mum, and the fact I had thought so much about it showed how determined I was to be a good mum

I'm not saying that everything might suddenly be ok for you as everyone is different, just maybe see if your MW or dr can refer you for a couple of sessions, and also don't be too hard on yourself, you have plenty of time

mummysweeangel1 Tue 14-Jun-11 06:54:40

Hi Alikat - Yip= i felt like this too with my first pregnancy, our son was planned and we were thrilled to find out we were expecting a baby, i have an excellent relationship with my own mother and love holding new born babies etc etc etc- however, even when i saw him on the scans, heart his heartbeat via the doppler at the antenatal appointments, felt him move inside me, i STILL didnt get it, and was so scared that i wouldnt feel anything for him when he was born - and those feelings came and went throughout my entire pregnancy with him , even though we were so excited and happy, i just used to sit and wonder "what if i look at him and dont recognise him or feel anything" etc

the day after he was born, we were still in hospital (he was born by EMCS) and i remember the midwifes bringing him back to me after feeding him as i could hardly move and i remember looking into his wee cot and seeing his little face and all of a sudden i was totally overwhelmed by the strongest ever feeling of love - i cried my eyes out for almost a full solid hour - it was the very strangest thing and something that no matter how many people try and explain to you , you will not know until you have it yourself- but you WILL have it - it may be as soon as you see your baby- it may be days or weeks after but you will have it.

I am currently expecting our second child, another boy, due in 2 weeks, and already i have another different set of feelings - "how will i be able to love this baby as much as my first" etc etc etc ...it goes on and on !!!!!

Hope all goes well for you , and i am very sure it will xxx

PenguinArmy Tue 14-Jun-11 07:30:05

I'm too tired to write to coherently, but a lot of what you wrote in your OP describes how I felt.

tbh although I cared massively for DD it took me a while to really feel the love but the maternal instinct was there. I had accepted beforehand that I could be one of those people who wouldn't have that rush. Before I got there though I was overwhelmed with love when we had moments of concern so I knew it was there. I also felt scared until about 37 weeks.

I can't imagine DD not being there now and I spent a lot of my pregnancy in mourning of the life I thought I was going to lose. Am now pg with number 2. We've had to do most of it on our own as well.

Like you I was worried that a lack of stable upbringing and family example would be a problem, but I reassure myself that I look up parenting ideas and try to actively think about how I approach things to stop myself falling on 'what I know' (hope that makes sense). Just the concept of there being a father confused me, I had no idea what part he was supposed to play.

In some ways I've found things easy because I've accepted that a lot of not ideal stuff will just happen. So I stop myself getting to stressed about it.

kri5ty Tue 14-Jun-11 08:15:56

alikat724 i just wanted to say hi

I cannot give advice, however i am in a similar position.
I am 26 and 14 weeks pregnant with my 1st. My mother and father split when i was very young, and i have has nothing to do with my father since, my mother was an alcholic and abused me when i was younger, i was not in care, however left to bring myself up froma very young age etc, needlessto say i have nothing to do with her at all
My partner does not speak to his mum, and although he does talkt o his dad, he lives an hour away.

I worry how we will cope with no family to help, but i am not worried about bonding... the way i see it is that i know how much of an awful childhood i had, and i will do everything to make sure my babies is the total opposite. I think once yours arrives and you have the skin to skin contact, it is hard not to form a bond, and if you do struggle, just remember that it can happen, and seek help, as it could be post natal depression, you wont be the first person or the last person it has happened too...

You will be great smile xxx

FriskyBivalves Tue 14-Jun-11 08:23:14

Alikat - at about your stage (16 weeks) I too felt the same.

Physically, I think it's a weird time of pregnancy: you don't feel any kicking yet (or if you do, it's rare...); the initial adrenaline rush has well and truly gone, you've done the telling-everyone-thing, and you're at a weird halfway house. There's that saying, "You can't be half-pregnant", but at about 16-20 weeks that's exactly what I did feel! Even later into the pregnancy, I remember lying in the bath, looking somewhat dispassionately down at my bump, and saying to my mother, "But will I love this baby?"

Emotionally, I'd had a wonderful stable childhood, but like you I felt I was giving up a lot - freedom, great career, nights out with friends etc.

All I can say is: that first night in hospital, when I'd had my baby girl, I couldn't sleep for love. She lay in my arms, and I gazed down at her face, and I knew I'd never need anything else to make me happy again.

Carry on posting, and you'll find heaps of people to help you!

wombatinwaiting Tue 14-Jun-11 08:47:43

Hi alikat and thank you for starting this thread - a lot of what you have said has resonated with me. I'm also 16 weeks, 38 and DH and I living as expats. I was really sorry to read that you had such a hard time with your own mother and even while I consider myself very lucky to have a close relationship with my parents, my feelings of detatchment and fear of not being a good mum are very real. We have had 3 good scans yet I'm still to feel that "rush of love" that's been described so many times by others. I am hoping that when the kicks start, it may begin to feel more real. I don't really have any actual advice to offer - apologies. I really wanted to let you know that you're not alone at all in your feelings.

A doula sounds a great idea in your circumstances and I hope this works out for you. I would also second some counselling - I had some after a second miscarriage last year and felt better and more positive after every session. It felt as if I was actually doing something about my fears and sadness, rather than just dwelling on them in my own head. Hope this helps and very best of luck in the coming weeks and months.

Thanks to others who have posted here with their experiences too - it's very reassuring to read.

alikat724 Tue 14-Jun-11 09:25:23

Wow - thank you all for your wonderful advice and support, both with regards to troubled childhoods and weird pregnancy detachment. I feel much less weird now! And will try to be patient with myself, and will definitely be getting some help (either domestic support or counselling) if and when the time comes.

kri5ty Tue 14-Jun-11 09:28:40

alikat724 smile glad you are feeling a little better about things, anytime you have a feeling/thought/cry and you feel worried there are always people on here who are feeling the same, this website has been a godsend to me! And as someone said earlier, by you postig this thread, it will have helped many other people too!!

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