"I Wasn't Excited About My New Baby"

Sean and Amy have just become new parents, but Amy is far from feeling joyful. Can this marriage be saved?
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Her Turn

What Happens After Pregnancy

"Sean has no idea how hard my life is," said Amy, 27, who has been married for four years and is the mother of two sons, Jake, 3, and Ian, 4 months. "Housework, grocery shopping, bill paying -- it's all my job. Yet my husband is oblivious. He comes home from work to find Jake in front of the TV, the baby in the swing and me slumped on the couch in my bathrobe. But does he run the dishwasher or do laundry? No, he complains that the house is a mess.

"Comments like that just get me more upset -- as if I'm not upset enough already. Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with me. The other day I was making cupcakes for a bake sale at Jake's preschool and spilled flour all over the counter. I burst into tears. I can't sleep, either. I just lie in bed, my heart pounding. You'd think that having two healthy, adorable boys would make me happy, but I don't really enjoy them. This sounds terrible, but I haven't felt excited about the new baby. It's hard to explain: I'll hear him cry but I'll feel disconnected. Last week, when I couldn't find a clean outfit to put on him, I became totally unhinged. I called Sean at work, crying hysterically. At my last checkup, I told the doctor I was so unhappy sometimes that I didn't want to be in this world. She said, 'It's normal after having a baby -- you'll get through it.'

"My second pregnancy was more difficult than my first. Six weeks before my due date I was hospitalized for toxemia, hypertension caused by pregnancy. The doctor said I could have had a stroke. He put me on bed rest and recommended a cesarean section. My mother flew in to watch Jake and help Sean. Ian was born a month early but he was fine. And so was I, at first. Then out of the blue, this heaviness set in. I could barely go through the motions of caring for the boys. After my mom left, Sean was so worried that he took a two-month leave of absence from his job. But as soon as he returned to work, my anxiety skyrocketed.

"This is not like me. I've always prided myself on being able to handle whatever came my way. After Jake was born, I was a little teary and anxious, but nothing like this. I'm sure a lot of it is due to our recent move from the Seattle area, where we grew up, to Dallas, where Sean, who's a software analyst, got transferred. I hate living so far from my family. I don't make new friends easily because I'm very shy. I also miss my job. I was a nursery-school teacher. I loved working with kids and want to go back to it. But right now I can't even manage my own kids -- how could I manage other people's?"

Continued on page 2:  Her Turn, continued


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