I Don't Love My Baby
I like order, organization, and planning.
When I became pregnant-which was a miracle itself, but that's another story-I <obsessively> researched every idea, problem, scenario, opinion and strategy on pregnancy, babies and labor. What to eat, what not to eat, the best and worst names, the 'must have' products, the worst baby products, contractions, epidurals, emergency C-Sections, birthing positions...not a decision was made I hadn't vetted thoroughly.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was coaching my step-daughter's 10 & under competitive softball team. I coached 4-5 days per week, worked a full time job and a second part-time job all while having a family, dog and a life!
I was thrilled to be pregnant and add to our family (I have two AMAZING <step> kids) but I refused to use being pregnant as an excuse to live life any different. I was blessed with an 'easy' pregnancy: no major complications or problems. There was no justifiable reason to slow down, much to the chagrin of my family and friends.
Our final softball tournament was scheduled the weekend before my due date. Our little guy had other plans however, and decided to join us 8 days earlier...and join us he did! My water broke at 1:15AM on July 29 and we met our little man at 4:24AM!
This was NOT part of my life plan I had prepared for us! (I can laugh at myself now in thinking 'planning' any of this was even possible!)
The 9 months of pregnancy were for growth and bonding and I LOVED being pregnant! I embraced and marveled each flutter, every ultra-sound, all those kicks, punches and flops.
But I didn’t fall “IN LOVE” while I was pregnant.
Although I had a birth plan, read and watched all the information I could to educate myself for an experience I was yet to have, there is no amount of research or planning to prepare you for labor; especially a first & fast one.
It was incredible and terrifying! I was panicked and scared, I didn't breathe correctly, I was screaming and in indescribable pain! The labor was so quick (Google 'precipitous labor') I didn't have time to process the reality, let alone practice anything we had worked on with our doula.
It sounds funny that I am 'complaining' about a fast labor-but in a strange way-I felt almost 'cheated'out of the overall experience.
Society portrays THAT moment as the most emotionally charged moment of EVERY mother's life. I felt relief, adrenaline, excitement, pure happiness and fear, but I didn't quite feel...L-O-V-E.
What was wrong with me?
I was in total shock over the entire situation. One minute, I woke up to go pee and the next I'm pushing a human out of my body!
In retrospect, I didn't have time to process the reality and emotion of this experience and associate my tiny baby to specific emotions, namely love. I would stare at him in awe and proudly show him off to our family and friends who visited. I wasn't prepared for the lack of sleep (even though everyone warns you), the experience of nursing (it HURT at first) or the extinction of your former life; all while trying to find a 'new normal.'
I equated my son to these negatives the first few weeks and felt a mild resentment. All the research hadn't prepared me for this reality. I didn't feel a visceral ‘LOVE.'
What I felt was an 'obligatory love.'
I knew I was supposed to love my child.
Because I was his mom and that’s what ‘good’ moms do.
Society, family, friends, media all tell me I should. Heck, biology tells us we should. So I was devoted and loved him the way I thought a new mom should.
But, it wasn't REAL love.
I hadn't had time to fall in love!
I didn't fall in love with my husband or my older <step> kids right away. I had to spend time learning their personalities and their unique attributes. I had to learn what makes them happy and sad or what makes them laugh or cry. I had to learn their favorite food, colors, music and sports. I had to learn their values and passions. I had to learn WHO they were before my heart could decipher LOVE.
Who was I to force love when love blossoms in its own perfect time?
I distinctly remember the moment my heart fell madly, deeply and irrevocably in love with this tiny human my body created! I was holding him after nursing. He was slightly 'milk-drunk' and I was holding him up so we were meeting each other's gaze....and he smiled at me. Who knows why this 3 week old human smiled right then, but it was the most awe-inspiring, tear-inducing, heart-racing moment of my life.
I fell in love with my child.
I snuggled his precious little body to mine as my tears fell on his perfect cherub cheek. I knew from that moment I would do everything and anything to make him happy, to guide him and give him the best opportunities in life. I understood right then why my mom still looks at me a certain way.
I became a mommy in that moment. I felt unconditional love.
So, for each pregnant mom like me- who research and stress (then research about the impacts of stress)- this is for you. I hope you read my story. I want you to give yourself permission to not LOVE your tiny new human immediately if you don't feel it.
Give your heart permission to manifest the unconditional Mommy love and allow it to grow organically.
There is nothing wrong with you.
Love will hit you like a ton of bricks over time. You’re not a bad mom if you don’t feel all the things right away.
**These feelings can also be a part of Postpartum Depression. PPD is a serious concern. If you are having negative thoughts toward your children or yourself, please speak with your medical provider.