Have you read 'the other mother" it is a lot of different experiences in one book - i loved that one too. You might find some stories that you identify more with. I also love the blog 'first time second time'.
For me, the time I felt most lost and invisible was during our pregnancy. I found there is just a lot of ritual and tradition around the carrying mother during pregnancy. There is a lot of social attention and things that you say to pregnant women.
What I felt was missing was ritural for becoming parents, which we both were. They didn't need to take away from pregnancy and birthing traditions. But they needed to be something other than how new dads are celebrated (which after being treated like I was becoming a new dad, I found insulting and so basic).
In behind it all I felt invisible and like I wasn't seen as becoming a 'real' mom. Because 'real' moms in this dominant social tradition carry babies. It felt like I was skipping an important rite of passage and was cheating my way into the coveted mother role. And more important than that, my presence threatened (in some fam/folks eyes) the space and attention my DW deserved as the carrying partner. Hints of this sentiment came out in dissaproval of our decisions around things like baby showers and such.
My partner was clear about what her needs were - and what her body needed, and she was totally open to exploring ways to celebrate both of us becoming parents.
some things we tried:
- we were careful about our language. 'We' were pregnant, we were both becoming moms, etc... Right away we used language that was important to us to encourage others to catch on well before the baby arrived. If conversation had me pushed to the side, my partner was conscious to bring me back into it. The flip side was that if people were treating her as just a belly they could touch or talking only about the pregnacy, I was there to broaden the conversation. She felt invisible too a lot - so much focus on the belly and hearing the same questions and statements day in and out.
- I spent loads of time with the baby inutero by singing and talking to her - generally at night in bed. I'd rub belly butter on and feel for kicks. MY DW loved the pampering, and I loved snuggling her belly and bonding with my kid :) win win win. I felt the baby move really early on. so awesome.
- we chose not to have showers and instead to have a baby welcoming after the baby was born. Our family really couldnt' get their minds around a shower that would include us both as moms - they had set traditions. It was too stressful so we requested to skip it. Hurt some feelings, but it was key to us. Some friends were more creative and we had a secret shower with them - but family waited to party when we were both clearly moms.
- I let myself be 'pregnant'. Not in a physical sense - but I definately nested and researched endlessly about gear and diapers and such. I sewed and cooked and did all the things that are mothering to me. I made some onesies and tried knitting and let myself get wrapped up in it all.
- I felt the crazy hormones that swam around our house. Man, it was weird. I had morning sickness once too - someone should totally research how two women in close proximity share preggy hormones. my cycles went crazy.
- we were intentional about needing space for bonding after the baby was born. We told fam and friends that we might wait a day or two. Understand that with my sister's kids my dad was circling the hospital. They medical staff had just left the room and family came in. We wanted it clear before hand that we were going to rest and take family time first. Again - hurt feelings - but mostly understanding. In the end we had the in the hospital baby at 7pm and visiting didn't start till the next afternoon. By then we were ready for some visits. But it was good to claim our space and have some understanding there.
- I carried the baby in the sling a lot in the first weeks. This happened mostly because my DW has a CS. But it was good, we had lots of skin time this way (I kangaroo carried her with a wrap alot).
- I was supported by my partner to try breastfeeding. This was something that was important to me. I tried pumping during pregnancy but didn't have the time to really focus. When the baby came I used a tube supplimenter when I wanted to. I loved this time with my DD. It was so great to have the option.
Other people have done this sucessfully in many ways. If it is something that might be important, try it out :) ! This is sometimes a key area where other moms might be seen as selfish. It seemed like it was understandable why an adoptive mom might want to breastfeed their baby. And I found many were encouraged to do so, even by their doctors. Personally, I found as a 'second' mom in the picture, there just wasn't understanding about why I would want to do this. I wondered a lot about that.