Dr. Julie S. Lundgren

English Speaking Psychologist in Gothenburg, Sweden

"I Feel Trapped"

My situation is that I am soon to give birth and feel trapped in Sweden. I had always wanted to give birth in my homeland. Just thinking about this can set off tears (no doubt due to pregnancy hormones).

Even under the best circumstances, becoming a parent ranks high on the list of life’s most significant stressors. In becoming a mother, a woman enters a new phase of development. As with any developmental shift, a psychological crisis is triggered.

While in crisis, we naturally feel a regressive pull, that is to say, feel a little less competent and a little less prepared to meet the demands of life. In the case of a pregnancy, to feel unprepared can be terrifying.

You most likely see your homeland as a sum of all things familiar and within your realm of self-confidence. Your family, traditions, and childhood memories taken together are the foundation of your sense of self and define your comfort zone. This foundation has become especially important now as you go through one of the most significant experiences of your life.

You seem to  have convinced yourself that because you aren’t giving birth in your homeland, you have already failed as a mother somehow, that you have not lived up to your ideals. But that’s just your point-of-view.

Think for a moment from the perspective of your baby. Your baby could care less about which country you live in, or what planet for that matter! You are your baby’s homeland, his or her universe. Your fantasy of becoming a mother in your homeland, while something that you must understandably mourn, belongs in the past.

Your baby will not take part in your feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and regret. You are perfect in your baby’s eyes. From your baby’s perspective, your disappointment about having to give birth in Sweden spoils his or her perfect image of you and of being with you. Your baby needs you to be living in the here and now, in the moment with him or her. Your baby needs to idealize you as capable of doing no wrong and you need to let that happen. The baby deserves that and so do you.

Now a word about your longing to be in your homeland. I would not assume that your baby will not be a part of all that your homeland represents to you. The ideas contained in the word “homeland,” the ones that bring tears to your eyes, are in fact parts of you. In everything you do, consciously and unconsciously, you are conveying these ideas in some form or another to your little one, just as the ideas were passed on to you during your childhood.

To me it sounds like you are putting too much emphasis on your physical location and too little emphasis on the where the real heart and soul of your homeland resides for your family: inside you.