Debra Gilbert Rosenberg, LCSW
Pregnancy is one of the few times of life when we are actually encouraged to be egocentric, and it can feel rather nice.
More than one new mother has sheepishly confessed that she misses her obstetrician, as even the health care focus switches from mother to the baby.
New babies draw new attention
But just as pregnant women draw a lot of attention, new babies tend to draw even more. Old ladies at the mall who only weeks ago might have stopped to regale you with stories of their own pregnancies now stop to admire your baby. Relatives want to know if the baby resembles them, strangers want to hold the baby, and it seems that no one even notices you. The contrast is striking, and many women feel a surprising emptiness when the enormous concern and interest formerly focused on them seem to disappear. You feel ignored just when you need support and confidence the most.
In the early days of being a mom, it is difficult to feel appealing, confident or competent, so the loss of attention can be particularly painful. You go from being treated like a queen to feeling like a handmaiden to your baby. To bridge the attention gap, you may need to learn to reach out to others more directly. Tell your husband, mother, sister-in-law, neighbor, friends, whomever you love and trust, that you still need some time with them, not just with your baby and be clear about wanting to focus on adult topics.
In addition, try to recognize that the fascination with your baby may be an extension of the love people have for you. Learn to ask for what you need emotionally when you feel neglected or lonely, and to recognize that your baby's magnetism hasn't diminished yours. Just because his novelty is irresistible doesn't mean you aren't still irresistible yourself. Ask for what you need for yourself and know that many other new moms experience the new mother invisibility with disappointment, too.