DEAR ABBY: It saddened me to read the letter from "Lacks the Mothering Gene" (Sept. 15). Seven months pregnant, she feels nothing for her baby, and her husband is furious with her for feeling as she does.
You told her that she should discuss this with her obstetrician, and you were sure that once the baby arrived she would fall in love with her baby. Not always, Abby. There are, in fact, many situations where mothers do not fall in love with their babies.
I have led pregnancy and postpartum support groups for 20 years, and I would have advised "Lacks" to see someone who is professionally trained in working with women who are psychologically distressed during pregnancy. Sometimes there are multiple, complex reasons why women feel negatively toward their babies, and she needs a place where she can talk about such matters.
I admire her, because in spite of her lack of feelings at this time, she's still determined to be an excellent mother. I have every confidence that with the proper support, she can be. -- WILLIAM S. MEYER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY
DEAR MR. MEYER: Thank you for lending your expertise and sharing your sound advice. Responses to that letter included testimonies from women wanting "Lacks" to know she was not alone. My newspaper readers comment:
DEAR ABBY: My mother found herself pregnant shortly after she and my father were married. She was not happy about it, and it caused a lot of conflict. She made my life unbearable. I think "Lacks" should rethink her options.
It took years of therapy for me to realize I was not to blame for my parents' fights or for everything that was wrong. Mother was a classic narcissist, and her toxic relationship with me didn't end until after her death.
Some women should not be mothers. If they can't be, they should place the child for adoption. That way, the child will have a chance to grow and thrive in a loving environment. -- R.P. IN CARMICHAEL, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I struggled through my son's infant-through-preschool years and forced myself to give up my career to be a stay-at-home mom because I'd been told it was best for him. It was agonizing for me. I wondered if I was defective.
However, now that my son is school-age, I have discovered I am actually a great mom and love spending time with him. What I lacked as a "baby mom," I have more than made up for as a "kid mom." As such, I have returned to the workforce and have no guilt over dropping off my second child -- a toddler -- at day care.
"Lacks" will find her niche eventually, but she shouldn't beat herself up while she's looking. -- REBECCA IN FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.
DEAR ABBY: I am a birth doula who assists couples through pregnancies and birth. I don't find every client with a big belly on a pink cloud. I highly recommend a certified birth doula to help through the hard times. They can be found at www.DONA.org, the website for the international doula organization. Several doulas can be interviewed in order to find a good fit and one who understands the situation. -- BIRTH DOULA IN OREGON
DEAR ABBY: I think what "Lacks" is feeling is common. Yet we are never supposed to talk about it. A woman who feels less than jubilant about the responsibilities of motherhood is viewed as unwomanly and selfish. Some women are just not fulfilled being mothers, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I resented motherhood until I began to focus on my children as the amazing people they are. Reluctant moms should get curious about their children, or get involved with a good neighborhood baby group or a parent coach. It helps to have someone to talk to when things get rough. -- NEW MOM IN WASHINGTON
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)