Stage One: 'The 7 Stages of Motherhood'

In The 7 Stages of Motherhood, Ann Pleshette Murphy, a mother of two, explains what parents should expect, and how they can deal with it, as their journey through parenthood begins.

Read excerpts from Murphy's new book and go to www.annpleshettemurphy.com for more information on parenting.

Stage 1 Altered States: Pregnancy, Birth, and the Fourth Trimester

And for more on The 7 Stages of Motherhood, go to www.annpleshettemurphy.com

Summary of Stage 1

Most of us become mothers in our minds the minute that second pink line blooms in the plastic window or the call to the doctor's office confirms the news. We breathe a little differently, see a different reflection in the mirror long before our contours actually change. We may go about the mundane business of our lives, but we're already acutely aware that nothing will ever be the same, that our own personal history – and that of our baby-to-be -- is about to change in ways that are thrilling and terrifying. In many ways, your fantasies about the future are as important as the little cluster of cells floating inside you. Pregnancy is a three-in-one deal: There's the physical baby you're carrying, the imagined one in your dreams, and your picture of yourself as a mother. They're all important, all part of what makes pregnancy the seminal journey of any woman's life.

Few of us take the time to indulge in these fantasies or to give voice to them, especially if they tip precariously toward the dark side. But carving out the emotional and psychological space to plan for your new life and, more important, for your new sense of yourself, is critical. There are plenty of evolutionary explanations as to why we carry our babies for nine long months, but I'm convinced that those last few weeks, when our bodily changes (and quite a few functions) seem totally out of control, are an apt metaphor for motherhood. "If you think you look and feel completely different now," Mother Nature laughs, "then just wait ... " Read more

Stage 1 Summary, continued

As we hurtle toward childbirth, thoughts and feelings about losing our sense of ourselves, of facing an unknowable future, are easily overwhelmed by fears and excitement about labor and delivery. Whether you need anesthesia to get your teeth cleaned or you laugh off root canal, the prospect of pushing a fully formed, melon-sized head out of your vagina makes skydiving sound like a spa treatment. Bear in mind that childbirth is not a competitive sport. Stoicism does not make the mom. Whatever helps you wrest some control over the pain, fatigue, and fear, is what works.

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