Your Fantasy Baby vs Your Reality Baby

How Getting Attached to Your “Fantasy Baby” Can Affect Your “Reality Baby” via alexandrasacksmd.com

Photo by Brandon Day on Unsplash

One of the reasons pregnancy is so all-consuming is that you’re actually creating two ‘different’ babies:

the one physically growing in your uterus, and a second one alive in your imagination. We’ll call this your fantasy baby, and this one is just as important as the baby you’ll eventually hold in your arms.

Paying attention to your fantasies can teach you a lot about yourself and your ideas about what mothering will be like.

As your pregnancy progresses, you may create a story about your make-believe child and become emotionally invested in that story — in the form of daydreaming. In addition to being fun, daydreaming is a safe way to practice your new role and can be more comfortable than waiting for an unknown future during the months of pregnancy.

When you don’t know what to expect, it’s natural to become anxious. Fantasies can be an attempt to feel more in control of your greatest fears. It’s how you protect yourself from scary feelings and thoughts by replacing them with more tolerable ones.

When your “real” baby arrives, the feelings you’ve already developed about your fantasy baby, may be powerful enough that reality disappoints you…

Paying attention to your fantasies can teach you a lot about yourself and your ideas about what mothering will be like. Your fantasies of who your child will be and what you’ll be like as a mom are informed by your observations of the experiences of your own mother and other female relatives and friends. They’re influenced by the community and culture in which you live, books you’ve read, and the movies and TV programs you watch.

By the time your “real” baby arrives, you’ve already developed feelings about your fantasy baby, and those feelings may be powerful enough that reality disappoints you if it doesn’t align with your vision. This can be especially difficult for those of us that have been imagining motherhood since we were children and not just from when we saw that positive pregnancy result.

You may fantasize that your baby is going to be the best version of you or have the attributes you wish you had. You may imagine that your baby will bring you gifts of joy or love that are missing from your life, or were missing from your childhood family. Many pregnant women have vivid fantasies of their child’s gender. Sure, everyone says she’ll love her baby as long as he/she’s healthy, but deep down, we’ve found that many moms have a secret wish for a boy or a girl.

We encourage you to pay attention to your fantasies, but try not to judge or get too attached to them.

Instead, think of your fantasies as questions, rather than answers. They’re an exploration of concerns and possibilities, rather than a prediction of how things will unfold exactly.

One of the central tasks of parenting is to see your children for who they are, not who you think they should be. Even if you wanted a girl and you get one, she is going to demand that you find a way to see her for who she really is, even if that’s someone who hates ballet, your favorite childhood activity. That’s parenting 101.

Just remember: fantasies are an exploration of concerns and possibilities, rather than a prediction of how things will unfold exactly.

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