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Move over, moms. Your babies have replaced you as your partner's No. 1.

Most new mothers are thrilled to see their partners fall head over heels for their children. But as CNN's Shanon Cook discovered, that sense of elation can be complicated by another unexpected, and certainly taboo, feeling: jealousy.

Ms. Cook says she bristled when she realized her husband wasn't referring to her when he used the term, "sweetie." He was talking to their newborn.

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"Well this is new, I thought. After 10 years of being my husband's No. 1 gal, he's now trying out my special nickname on our daughter," Ms. Cook wrote. "And what's that uncomfortable sensation in my chest? That slight pang followed by a dull ache. Heartburn? No. Could it be … jealousy?"

Indeed, experts said, it was.

Psychology professor Gerrod Parrott of Georgetown University told her: "It's a completely normal reaction."

"Romantic love and parental love are overlapping systems," Dr. Parrott said. "… Infants in particular receive types of physical attention that overlaps with romantic interactions and for that reason are usually withdrawn later in childhood." (Parental cuddling and kisses aren't sexual, he explained, but they are intimate.)

Psychologist Jenn Berman added that fathers are usually the ones complaining of feeling left out. But she noted that many women likely share Ms. Cook's pangs of jealousy, and are just afraid to voice them. "As women we are raised in this society to be selfless and to be givers," she said.

It appears some of Ms. Cook's readers can relate.

"I am currently going through the EXACT situation," one commenter wrote. "I feel like our baby is coming between our marriage. I resent her for it. I cry almost everyday about it because I feel like a terrible mother."

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"If we're honest, a little bit of this is normal and happens to all parents," another commenter said.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, a large number of readers balked, calling the writer "selfish," "self-absorbed" and in need of psychological help.

What's your take? Parents, have you ever felt jealous of your children?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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