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I'm first!

I have a feeling I need to go buy this book. NOW. As in leave my desk and go buy it NOW _ or just order it from amazon.

Very profoundly true. I bet the rest of the book is equally well-written! Thanks Andrea, and thanks Tertia for sharing this with us!

You know, I think the answer is in a friend of mine's response to a comment I made about when her daughter would start crawling.

She said "look, when I was oregnant, I was never going to have a baby, when I had a newborn, she would never be a baby, and now that she's a baby, she'll never be a toddler".

People just don't want to think about it - it scares them.

As for me (as an old ex-nanny) - I bought the baby whisperer the same day I bought birthing from within.

I just went online and bought this book.

Thank you for this!

And by the way OH. MY. GOD. I'm so sorry you (or any of us) have to go through this just to have the moments of joy with your new babies. But I know you're strong enough to get through and it is all worth it eventually and throughout....stay focused enough to be good to you though too, T.

At least you got your 2 babies at once deal. Once you get through a phase, you are through it my dear!

Thanks so much for sharing. As an expectant second time mom (but first timer with twins), I think this is also a good refresher course.

Her analogy is so wonderful, one won't sound ungrateful or unnatural if you can compare new motherhood to a traveler's experience of culture shock. Simply brilliant.

I'm going to create a passport and hang in near their cribs.


Geez Tertia, initially I didn't catch that you were posting an excerpt from a book and I was thinking, wow, how does she get the time to write all this? and it's really good too! :-) It sounds like an EXCELLENT book and you know what, after reading this, I realize that I am definitely in the "hostility phase" of culture shock, having just moved to Israel a few months ago. Doesn't it just feel like such a relief to find that someone understands?

I could so identify with this. When my first was born I sat in the backseat of the car on the way from the hospital to hold up the baby's head the ENTIRE way. I was terrified of the cars wizzing past us and the way my husband was driving. I was completely overwhelmed that they (the hospital staff) were going to send us home with this baby. Surely, they made a huge mistake. I didn't know what the hell to do with her. Thank God my own mother was waiting for me at home. She had turned down the bed and set up the bassinet by the bed. The baby had this terrible moment of choking on something in her throat in just a few minutes and I was sure that she would die within the next 24 hours. My mother assured me that she was strong and had even given us a clue that something was wrong by holding up her little fist when she choked. It is SO overwhelming. For you, Tertia, maybe more than doubly so. Hang in. The sisterhood of motherhood you have here truly helps.

Glad you found a book that is helping you! The intro. you posted sounded familiar. Her writing is almost the same thing, written by a woman named Emily Perl Kingsley in 1987 about having a child w/disablities. I actually have it saved on my computer, b/c I do have a special needs child and it helps me. Glad the author of the book you have used an analogy almost the same, it does help! Just wanted to post the one from 1987...

by Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

I love this book. I read it when my son was 2, but it still made me cry and cry because it all brought it back so clearly.

I give it to all the expectant moms I know at their baby showers, but tell them not to bother reading it ahead of time. It really won't do any good then--you need to be in the middle of it to appreciate it.

Thanks to both of you for sharing this. With 9 weeks to go until my first-born arrives, I know that, as Moxie said, there's no point in reading it now.

But I really appreciate knowing the changes that are about to happen, and I suspect as I am awake all night with my baby, I will remember that this is OK, this is normal, horrible, but normal and that it is a phase and that other mothers do understand.

Thanks again, much appreciated.

I'm so glad you've found Andrea and MotherShock. I'm in the state of Delaware which isn't far from Philadelphia where Andi lives. We've met once at a book signing, and she is truly awesome. I've been thinking of de-lurking just to tell you about her book, but as you well understand... I just haven't found the time!

I'm so sorry no one was able to tell you what it's like. I also wondered…and I thought to myself “They could have told me about this…or that…” and I realized that I couldn’t even explain it to myself. And I know me! How would someone else even begin to describe the wonder mixed in with the hormonal crash? I bawled in the hospital the night after my son was born. (granted – he was under an oxygen tent and I wanted to hold him and it was the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep…one of the nurses asked me if I wanted something to help me sleep and all I could do was cry.)
There’s just no way to describe a state of being so completely different than anything else you can experience in life. Maybe it’s akin to climbing a mountain AFTER undergoing surgery that leaves you stitched up and sore…and your boobs are leaking and all the while you have to stay awake when your head is nodding and your eyes are rolling back into their sockets. Oh - the altitude! You can't catch your breath. And you have to answer questions! And you try to shower & brush your teeth and eat meals and you never know when that little time-bomb is going to go off! Do you remember that game? The one with the timer? The one where you had to do something before it goes off and your heart starts pounding and your hands are shaking and you can’t do anything and you watch that timer out of the corner of your eye and you can't think because WHEN IS THAT TIMER GOING TO DING? I CAN’T TAKE THE SUSPENSE!! Whew! Well…that’s how I felt every time I had to pee or thought about how greasy my face felt.

So glad that you found Andi and Mother Shock. It was SUCH a help to me right after Miss Pink was born. Reading it I realized I was not alone and neither are you!

Ok, I am freaking out here. I've had 4 canceled IVFs and I am about to begin #5 in a few days. I've been reading your blog (LOVE IT) but am suddenly struck with cold feet about this whole "parenthood" thing. I can deal with the terrible. PLEASE please someone tell me this will all be worth it before I follow through on my threat to cancel the whole thing.

Well, gosh, everyone -- I am so incredibly touched by your comments. It's such a loaded thing to write about the complexities of something that it seems everyone expects to be so "easy," so "natural" -- I spent most of the time writing Mother Shock wondering if it would end up sounding like a massive cry for help rather than a book -- so I am especially grateful to read what you all have to say here. I wrote the book fearing I was alone in this experience, and it's wonderful to hear that we're all in this together. Thank you, thank you.

And thank you, Tertia, for getting in touch, and for your lovely post.

Lisa, the whole thing is worth it. I just read approximately 352 books,delivered 2 cups of water, endured one tantrum over toothbrushing, sang two very loud off key songs in the middle of a dark room, shared lots of giggles, too many giggles, and finally "okay hush it's time for sleeping", one Mommy prayer, many cuddles...

And finally got to kiss my sleeping children good night. (3 years later)

Regardless of my own personal marital and childraising roller coaster that has made my former life, completely unrecognizable....I would have absolutely never have missed this for the world. (And I had my first kid at 35...)

This initial part is over in a blink. That first year is mind-boggling and mind-numbing and basically outrageously outrageous. It can turn you inside out, upside down and when you're finally shaken out of it, you end up a completely different person. It can feel endless at first, and then it speeds up.

My BABY is turning eight soon. How did that happen? How quickly does it move from snuggling a newborn to school to discussions about sex? (Yep, had my first one two years ago. I lived to tell the tale.) Blink the babiness is over. Blink twice and they're waving goodbye and the only one with a tear in her eye, is Mommy.

It goes by so fast. What you have to sacrifice is basically everything. But the rewards,oh my God, the rewards...

I can't imagine anything else that I could have done with my life that would have been better. It's worth it.

Motherhood, the toughest job you'll ever love. :D

Btw T...Wish that this had been written when I had my first one. Doing it alone is like reinventing the wheel.

WOW gotta go buy that book - was nodding furiously throughout - totally relating!

Since I have never had a child, and am a long distance step-mom, I have been unable to directly relate to what you have been going through as a new mom until you posted this.

I am currently going through the travelers side of the analogy (relocated from Dallas to Nigeria) and the comparison has really opened my eyes to your situation.

Thank you, and I hope that each day is better for you.

Thank you so much for introducing this book. And thank you for being so honest in your descriptions of this new life of yours. I love this analogy of finding one's self in a new land. When I had my daughter after a 10 year struggle with infertility, I knew it would be different. I found myself greatful I hadn't had twins. As someone with extensive experience with chronic sleep deprivation (general surgery residency), I thought I was prepared. But I was not. What I especially did not anticipate, however, was the strange effect my pregnancy and delivery had on my marriage and my relationship with my in-laws. The alterations in the relationship dynamics were so severe as to be surreal. The analogy to culture shock has at last provide me with a framework in which to view the events which occured.

I am pregnant again, as a result of the transfer of my last frozen embryo. Hopefully, things will seem a lot less foreign this time around.

Although I have only recently discovered your blog, I think you are actually doing fantastic with your twins, and I hope you are feeling a little less isolated in this new experience in your life.


I just wanted to say that two posts ago I suggested that maybe you needed to find some help. Not because you aren't capable, but because you sounded desperate, and the desperation doesn't seem to be abating.

I was sure that I didn't remember it being that bad. I'm so in the groove now and things are going so well and Charlie is such a delight. Isn't it all wonderful?

Life, as usual, kicked my ass. Two nights ago Charlie wouldn't sleep. My husband and I each got four hours, which to someone in your situation is a full night's sleep, and yesterday was the shittiest day god ever created.

Last night we spent two hours fighting and staying awake later than we should have, because WE WERE TIRED AND NEEDED SLEEP.

I had flashbacks to that second month of Charlie's life and I'm here to retract what I said earlier. Life is amazing now. Charlie is 5 months old and I can't even remember what it was like to be so tired and stressed. But back then it sucked ass. Sucked big steaming ass.

Please forgive me and know that I now remember what it was like. And I only had one. Good lord, be good to yourself.

I still recommend a visit to the psychiatrist, but mostly so you can get some sleep on his couch.

And is it worth it? A thousand times. A thousand million times. When they start to sleep and you catch up on yours, and they laugh and they grab their feet and when they think that mama is just the best thing since sliced bread, I'd do it a thousand times. A thousand times.

For me, it was worth every minute. Every second.

Charlie rocks, and I just sit back in awe that we get to live with him.

Tertia, thank you SO much for posting this. I too found myself nodding again and again throughout. All my best to you as you are still making yourself at home in a new place.

Andi, thank you for sharing your experiences of motherhood with us. The stages you listed, and your comparison to culture shock is spot on! I've got to get this book for myself. I have a feeling it will be very useful too for my husband's cousin who will be (God-willing) be delivering twins sometime this spring.

And Lisa, I don't think I could say it any better than Janine did above, but believe it when I say...it is SO worth it. As profoundly deep as the shock, sleep deprivation, etc. is...the love and pride is even more profound. (I realize the above sentence is probably not even proper English, but this is something for which there are no adequate words...that is how much parenthood is worth the trip). All the best to you in your efforts to have a baby.

this may be explained in the rest of the book, but do you think the mother shock is more the case in modern times than in the past, when people had large families and older siblings were often called upon to care for many much younger siblings before having their own children? just curious about that.

I wonder that too, Beth. One interesting website I came across about life in the Middle Ages explained that parents left children alone in the house during the day while they worked. Even tiny newborns and active toddlers- they were just left alone in the hut. Mom came back to feed them and went back to work. Wha??? The standard of child care was so vastly different in past centuries that it can barely be compared to the excellent care most parents give to their small children today.
Now that we're expected (and understandably so) to constantly monitor and supervise our young, the job is much, much harder. Not that working the fields twelve hours a day was easy, but childrearing has in recent times reached a peak in quality in developed countries. Maybe the standard is too high? Maybe we're asking too much of mothers now? I don't know- what else are you supposed to do?

I think I'm gonna take my IVF savings and go to on a major cruise all over South America instead.

I am now officially terrified.

But, I'm glad that you are finding your way through this... and that you have found Mother Shock to help validate what you are going through. It sounds so very, very difficult. I wish I could help somehow.


Tertia, I'm delurking to thank you for sharing this resource for new mothers. A good friend of mine recently had her first child two months ago, and I think the "Mother Shock" book and/or blog might be helpful, if not reassuring for her.

You're doing an awesome job with Kate and Adam, and don't believe anything else!

Beth and Lily - you might be interested in reading Meredith Small's books Our Babies, Ourselves and Kids. Both of those books discuss parenting in relation to human evolution and how parenting patterns tend to be cultural. It isn't quite the parenting through history approach you are discussing but her approach covers some of the same ground mentioned here.

I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK! with a 5 week old I felt so much that was in this book and it gave me so much hope. Hope you enjoy it too because it changed my life !

That was so brilliant.
I don't even want kids for another couple of years, but now I know what to expect. I am most definitely buying this book. The way she writes is just brilliant.
Thanks for sharing that Tertia!

I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. What a wonderful discussion of what it feels like to be a mother. I love the comparison to the culture shock that comes from living in a foreign country, since, you are, after all, in foreign territory. Good luck to you!

Hi, I think your article its very important and interesting,good work, thanks for sharing!! Have a nice day!

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