“I know how this works,” I thought. “I go to the hospital, pop a baby out, look at his sweet face and immediately get gobsmacked with overpowering love and affection for the little one, solidifying our timeless bond as mother and child. All wrapped up with a shiny bow. And we all live happily ever after. The End”
…..Instead, I was scared, tired, disappointed and slightly annoyed when I first laid eyes on my son. I was shaking violently as a reaction to the drugs I was given during my unplanned c-section. I couldn’t hold him. I could barely crane my neck enough to see his beautiful face clearly. When I was in recovery and shaking less I got to hold him. I was totally in awe of the little bundle, amazed that he was just inside me and now he’s out, and so…real. But I wasn’t overcome with emotion. I wasn’t in love.
I pictured the first time holding my son a million times in my mind. When I did, I pictured myself sobbing big fat crocodile tears of joy, holding him, smelling him, being overwhelmed and spiritually connected to this little being that I baked up in my oven for the past 40 weeks.
Instead, I was…. happy. Just happy. Only happy.
Happy? What a let down that was.
I did love him, though. I was grateful for him. But something was missing. And this broke my heart. I’d read stories online about babies who “hate” their mothers from birth, but feared I was a mother who didn’t have that deep true motherly love for her innocent child. I wept so hard that first night in the hospital. Already a failure at motherhood. (Thanks Hormones!)
I didn’t tell anyone, not even John or my mom how I was feeling. I was ashamed that I didn’t love him more or feel more connected to him. I thought they’d think I wasn’t fit to be a mother, and I didn’t want to be judged.
My love grew for Rohan with every passing minute that I spent staring at him and caring for him. However, it wasn’t until my son’s fourth day of life that I had the overwhelming spiritual experience I assumed I would have at first sight.
I had just changed his tiny diaper and laid him on the bed next to me and was staring at him (as usual) but I got an urge to strip him naked outta nowhere. So I did. And as I looked at his tiny soft squirmy naked body it hit me! It was physical, it was spiritual, it was deep, it was overwhelming, and it was much needed. I couldn’t stop crying joyful, awestruck tears. My body felt vibratey like (don’t judge me) I was on ecstacy, or in the middle of an intensely deep meditation. I was pulled to scoop him up and just hold him tight to my chest.
I don’t know how long I sat there with him smashed up against me, just crying and letting the crazy sensations wash over and through me, but I do know that when I set him down again I was covered with pee and so was the bed. I just laugh/cried and changed him again.
A few days later I was reading about mommyhood online and found that many women don’t have that love at first sight with their children. For some it seems to come after a while, developing slowly but surely as mommy and baby get to know each other. For others it seems to just be delayed and then hit them all at once like a mack truck. I guess I’m in the latter group.
I finally told some mom friends of mine about this, and while most of them said the mack truck of love hit them right away, I had a few who admitted to not having love at first sight. One of my friends said, “It’s like any other relationship for me, the love had to grow.”
That made so much sense!. I am glad I don’t have the romanticized love at first sight expectation anymore. I’ll be a lot easier on myself when we have baby #2.
(yes, I know my first is only a month old, and YES I am already thinking ahead to #2, sue me.)
Did you fall in love at first sight with your little one or did the love have to grow?
PS Thanks for all the lovely emails ladies!! I really appreciate them. I’ll catch up with the blog posts asap!