DEAR ABBY: I'm 26 and have never wanted children. Last year, however, two lines appeared on a pregnancy test and 41 weeks later the girl was born. I pleaded and begged my husband throughout the pregnancy to sign adoption papers with me. He refused. He is in the military and was gone through most of the last seven months. We now live thousands of miles from my family, and I am miserable, stuck with a colicky baby who still doesn't sleep through the night.
I find no joy, no pleasure and no love being a mother. I can't sleep knowing I must wake up to a crying baby and the same routine of feeding, diapers, baths and bottles. I have become more and more detached from the girl and have nothing to enjoy. Showers are short. Dinners are rushed and usually cold. I can't even enjoy a cup of coffee without looking over my shoulder to see where the girl is. I don't want her to touch me, and I can barely hide my revulsion when I have to pick her up.
I am exhausted beyond belief, and my thoughts are turning darker every day. It's not the girl's fault she was born, but I can't help feeling resentment and anger toward this little person who more and more resembles a block of concrete on my feet.
We can't afford day care, and we have no friends or relatives remotely close by. I can't stand to wake up much longer, and these long stretches of crying have my nerves shot and my hands itching to shake the girl until she shuts up. (I have never shaken her.)
I'm scared of my feelings. What's wrong with me? Why can't I love my child? Should I put her in foster care? My husband can't stand her, either, but he's adamant that we keep her. Yet I'm suffering, and so is she. She deserves a mother who loves her. -- GOING CRAZY IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR GOING CRAZY: It is not a crime not to feel maternal -- not everyone is. In a case like yours, adoption might have been the better option. I wish you had included your name, address or a phone number so I could have contacted you directly. Because you didn't, I can only recommend that before another day goes by, you contact the doctor who delivered your daughter, or her pediatrician, and repeat what you have told me. You may be suffering from post-partum depression, a hormonal condition that is treatable, and you may need a respite from motherhood.
Once your chemistry is balanced again, consider making a trip to visit your family for a few weeks. If you leave the baby with your husband, and he must assume responsibility for her care in your absence, he may begin to see the wisdom of placing her with a family who really wants her and is willing to accept the responsibility that goes along with having a baby. Please don't wait.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 17-year-old girl and a senior in high school this year. I don't have many friends because I have never been part of the "in" crowd, so I am very grateful for the few true friends I have. In particular, I appreciate my friendship with an older man whom I met through my local youth group. He has been my friend and mentor throughout my high school years, and I would like to do something to show my appreciation for his friendship.
What would be an appropriate way to thank him for being my friend and role model? -- THANKFUL FOR FRIENDSHIP IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR THANKFUL: An excellent way to show your appreciation would be to write him a letter telling him what a difference his caring and friendship have made in your life during these important years. It will be something he can keep and enjoy over and over again for a lifetime.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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