Love

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Everyone knows what happens the moment you have a baby. You’ve spent nine months thinking about them, nine months picking out names and tiny, idy-bitty baby clothes. Wondering what they look like. Wondering who they will take after. Feeling every little kick with flutters of excitement. You wait, and wait, and wait. Then, all of a sudden they are here, in your arms. You are finally holding that tiny little baby you grew in your tummy and spent what felt like forever dreaming about. They had occupied your every waking thought and at last, here they are. You look down at your baby, his or her big, wide, innocent eyes staring back up at you and you are overcome with love. A love you never even thought possible. You would do anything for them. You would die for them. That’s how it happens. Right?

Right?

When my daughter was born this is what I felt: Nothing. Well, not nothing, I distinctly remember feeling dizzy and more than a little bit tender in the nether regions. Sure, I felt protective of her but other than that, not much. And as the days passed that nothing was slowly replaced by something else: guilt. Terrible, terrible guilt. This was my baby, how could I not fall head over heals for her the moment she was born? Because that’s what should have happened, that is what every one tells you will happen. That’s how it happens in every movie I have ever seen, in every book I have ever read. So why didn’t it happen to me? I didn’t dare tell anyone how I was feeling for fear of the mouth-agape oh-my-god-you-monster looks I was sure I would get. And that’s how I felt, I felt liked a monster. A monster that couldn’t even love it’s own child. I began to worry that I might never feel what I was meant to feel for her. What if I never fell in love with her? What then? Would I need psychiatric help? Would she be taken away from me? Would I be turned into the police and locked up forever more?

Looking back on it I think I was in a state of shock for the first six months of her life. I was handed this tiny, fragile little soul and I had no idea what to do with her. Not only that but every time I fed her it felt like thousands of tiny needles were being twisted into my nipples. I felt overwhelmed and alone, despite the tremendous support I had around me. Because in the end it was me she depended on, it was me she needed for everything. And boy, what a daunting responsibility. So daunting In fact, I didn't feel anything much except fear. It was like God handed me this impossibly fragile and irreplaceable jewel then said to me “Now, whatever you do, don’t screw it up!”.

The thing is, over the coming weeks and months I began to relax a bit and feel more comfortable in my new role as a mother. I realised that she wouldn’t die if she was thirty seconds overdue for a feed. That she wouldn’t need to be rushed to hospital if I accidentally got water in her eye during bath time. That her head wouldn’t implode if I couldn’t stop her from crying (it's true, they're heads generally don't implode). That maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t a horrible mother for not falling in love with her the very second she was born. I don’t know when or how it happened but my feelings towards her started to change. Not all at once but little bit by little bit.

And how do I feel about my daughter now? I look at my daughter now and this is what I feel: Love. An overwhelming love. A love I never even thought possible. I would do anything for her. I would die for her. And you know what? It’s OK that I didn’t feel that right away. Having a baby, especially your first, is intense. It’s the most beautiful and (I won’t lie) sometimes most traumatic thing that will ever happen to you. It’s hard enough as it is without having unrealistic expectations forced upon you. So I didn't have that One Born Every Minute moment. You know the one? That moment when the sappy, sentimental music starts to play, mum and dad huddle over their newborn baby and tears of joy start flowing into the pool of parental euphoria. But I love my child just as fiercely as the next mother loves her child. So does it really matter that that love wasn’t experienced instantly?


7 comments:

  1. Its so different to hear this, maybe because we all have babies in different circumstances at different times in our lives, and sometimes all we want is a baby, sometimes its unexpected. I think it all plays a part in how we feel when we first meet those special little lives. My first I was excited, I was in love from my very first thought of her, and it stayed that way, but I know that its because she was something very special ( after loosing our first ) It doesn't matter when we love our children, even though loving is also as simple as looking after, and being there for them when they need us, as long as we love them when it matters, and we hold onto that love forever xx like I am sure you will

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  2. I felt exactly the same. I remember someone stopped me in the street and looked into my pram. My daughter was about two months at the time. This person smiled and said 'they are so lovely at this age'. For a moment I was genuinely confused and lost for words. I felt like I was in some sort of hell where my whole life had been turned upside down. Her words couldn't be further from how I was feeling. That was two years ago and I adore my daughter now. I've even had another!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm not a mother (yet) but many close family and friends have had very similar experiences with their first children, I want to assure you and others out there that this is much more common than anyone realises and you were/are most certainly not alone! I hope your post gives other new mums the comfort that it's OK and will pass or the courage to reach out if it gets too much.

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  4. Your words are as beautiful as your pictures x

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  5. Thank you for your honesty. I think it's awful when you expect motherhood to be one way, and it's the complete opposite. xxxx

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  6. This is a lovely read, and since I've had my second baby, I've wondered if I love him more than I loved my first baby, because it feels like he came with all the love, and without any of the anxiety. Kellie xx

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  7. Thank you for writing this, it's important. Being a parent is different for every signle one of us, despite what is currently said. Let's open up to all of these different ways of being.

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