A Life of Change by Noshir H. Antia

By Noshir H. Antia

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The pregnant woman's curiosity and amazement at seeing her baby visualized on a screen in the third month is accompanied both by awe and by a fear of looking too deeply below the surface. The work of adjusting to her ambivalent feelings and fears about the fetus has just begun. She is not ready to face the baby as a reality yet. Many first-time expectant mothers who watch the screen on which the fetal movements are being visualized express mixed emotions. They see the fetus as inadequate, fearsome, or incomplete.

Feelings of helplessness, of inadequacy, may even express themselves in the wish for a spontaneous abortion. While the disappointment and feelings of guilt that accompany either the bleeding of a threatened abortion or the reality of one belie this ambivalence, they are always there. Only gradually does the drive toward motherhood, with all the powerful components that we saw earlier, transform this ambivalence into fuel for the work of pregnancy, into the positive anticipation and energy of the later months.

The fantasy child must, therefore, be perfect, must realize every potential dormant in the parents. Evidence of these wishes abounds, both in everyday experience and in the offices of child psychiatrists. Parents become very involved in a child's looks, motor performances, and, later, scholastic achievements. Values that have been highly prized by the parents may become an "obligation" for the child. The more they have failed, the more they must press the child to succeed. If a mother wishes to be more independent, the infant will have to be autonomous.

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