This chapter looks back on the process of becoming a mother, as women come to understand the visions they had — of motherhood as a bed of roses, of birth as agony or ecstasy, of pregnancy as a flowering or a burden. After the event these images are brought sharply into focus by the contrast medium of reality, which exposes the outline of what was, too often, a romantic dream. More than a third of the women interviewed for this study said they found becoming a mother a difficult experience. Eight out of ten said it had been different from what they had expected. The same proportion thought the pictures of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood conveyed in antenatal literature, women's magazines, and the media in general were too romantic, painting an over-optimistic portrait of happy mothers and fathers, quiet contented babies, and neat and shining homes that bore little resemblance to the chaos, disruption, and confusion of first-time motherhood.
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