Q. I am expecting my first child in seven months. My husband and I both will be 30 years old.
He says he always has wanted children, but I am ambivalent. In honesty, I really don't want children. I feel a person has to be very selfless to be a good parent, and I am worried about how the caring of a child will affect our relationship.
My husband is good about helping around the house, but I don't know if I can maintain my job, care for the house and the child, keep my marriage strong and still have time for myself.
To top it off, I have been suffering from nausea and have had to miss a great deal of work. I also am very tired, and I am angry and frustrated over these reactions from my body. I am very depressed.
Am I abnormal for feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and frightened about the future? I feel like I am robbing my husband, because I can't get excited about having this child. Yet I feel I have an obligation to the child and I want to be a good parent.
A. Every mother-to-be is overcome by ambivalence at times, especially in the first three to four months.
You're making the placenta now, and when the body works so hard it almost seems more than the mind can handle. And that's only one of your new jobs.
Your pulse is beating 10 extra times a minute; your blood is increasing by a third; your body is awash with hormones; your heart and your lungs are making room for the baby to grow. This is enough to make anyone tired, queasy and depressed and each of these problems needs a different response.
Fatigue is nature's way of telling you to rest -- to sleep an hour later, to put your feet up often, to take catnaps and, if possible, to stop before you get tired, particularly during the first and third trimester. You have to baby yourself when you're having a baby.
The nausea probably makes you feel worse than the fatigue, but it should be gone by the fourth month. You probably can ease the symptoms if you avoid foods that cause acid or gas; eat more proteins and complex carbohydrates; eat before you're queasy and even hungry and choose foods that contain a lot of water, such as melon, lettuce and oranges, if it makes you feel sick to drink water with your meals.
You also should eat small meals or snacks every two to three hours, rather than three big meals, and have a snack before you go to sleep and keep another at your bedside, so you can eat it before you get up.
Nausea usually is less if you start your day slowly and keep as calm as you can -- stress seems to make nausea worse -- and if you pull in your abdomen and tuck in your fanny, for good posture, it will make more space for the baby.
And if none of this works, be comforted. The National Institutes of Health found that queasy mothers-to-be had fewer incidents of miscarriages and stillbirths, perhaps because they had higher levels of a vital hormone.
The depression, of course, is your greatest burden, but it's not unusual. Mild depression, misgivings, mood swings and PMS symptoms are common in the first three or even four months of pregnancy, but the severity of your depression may reflect more than a natural resistance to change.
It's never easy to go from one lifestyle to another, but if you embrace the change as an adventure, you can handle your fears much better. To some extent they're well-founded. Your husband won't do as much housekeeping as he should -- but neither will you -- because you'll both be too busy gazing at the baby. That's just fine. It's the wonder of this child that will turn you into good parents, although you'll have to juggle your time and your priorities with more creativity than you knew you had.
Other worries bring other solutions. You'll still be harried about your job, but you'll learn to be more efficient. You won't see as much of your husband, but you'll treasure the time that much more.
Even so, it all may seem too much sometimes, so you should get help before you know you need it. A teenager who'll take the baby for a Saturday walk will give you the chance for a long bubble bath; a housekeeper one afternoon a week will let you come home to clean quarters one night a week, and an occasional weekend away with your husband will help you make time for your marriage.
Like countless mothers before you, you may even need a little counseling to help you bond with your baby better and to let go of those impossible standards of perfection. They are weighing you down. You, your husband, your marriage and your job all matter terribly, but the best is yet to come, and it should arrive in about seven months.
Questions may be sent to P.O. Box 15310, Washington, D.C. 20003.