Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sometimes Love Takes Time

It's raining. Like cats and dogs raining. Beatrice is napping, JD is at work, and the cat is trying to make a nest in my lap but I can't be bothered with cuddles (and shedding fur) right now. Ahhhh solitude. It has been awhile since I felt this calm. And in control. I think I like it. This shall be my new mood. Disrupt it at your own risk.

I was not a calm pregnant person. I worried that I would lose the baby, I worried that JD wouldn't love me as much, I worried that I wouldn't love the baby enough. Or at all. We didn't plan to get pregnant right away. We had only been married 10 months and were still settling into the idea that this was for the rest of our lives. We thought we'd travel, buy a bigger house, save some money and enjoy being a couple for a few years. When a bad fight turned into a night of carefree passionate making up, I found myself sobbing in my office bathroom with 2 blue lines in front of me. Crap. We were having a baby. And I wasn't ready.

JD took the news great. He was excited and nervous and really supportive. Supportive, you say? Why would he need to be supportive? Well because I was a sobbing, hysterical mess. I kept muttering things like "I'm too young to have a baby, I'm a child having a child. How will we feed it?" He said "Honey, you're 26. Get a grip." But I never really got a grip. The whole pregnancy I kind of ignored the fact that in less than a year, I would be a mother to some helpless little person that deserved a better mother than me. I was in complete denial of how my life would change and how our marriage would change. Everything was pushed to the far corners of my mind.

As my belly grew, my denial changed a bit. I accepted that a baby was growing in there and that I had to birth it out, but the magnanimity of knowing that I would be a mother was still suppressed in my mind. I started praying that she would be healthy and grow up knowing the Lord. That she would be smart and kind and honest and meek. That JD and I would be good parents. That I would love her. I never admitted the last prayer to anyone because what kind of woman doesn't think she will love her own child? It's not that I didn't think I'd eventually love her, but the feeling of instant love that women talk about when they feel the baby kick for the first time never happened to me. I felt stunted in motherly love. Was it because we weren't planning to get pregnant? Why was I so freaked out about a sweet, precious baby? What is wrong with me???? Ugggh, just remembering that makes me feel sick. 

As my due date approached, everyone told me that I would instantly fall in love as soon as I held that baby. I would look into her eyes and this unbreakable bond would form and last forever. Great, I thought. Finally, I will feel normal and no one will know that I am a heartless, unloving freak. I had Beatrice and as soon as she popped out, JD and my mom sobbed tears of joy. She pooped in utero so the docs had to check her out before they brought her to me. I never cried. When they handed her to me I fumbled trying to hold and calm her. Nothing came naturally to me. I didn't feel nurturing or motherly at all. I felt the same.  The nurses wanted to bathe her so I eagerly gave the baby to them and felt the biggest dread come over me. I still didn't feel love for my baby. And I had to take her home in a day. And even bigger than that, I had to pretend that I wasn't completely freaking out in front of our family.

The next month was a blur of sobbing, feeling inadequate, and resenting myself for not being normal. Why did I not feel anything for my baby? I didn't hate her or wish she didn't exist, I was very grateful for her. I just didn't feel anything. I thought that all good mothers would instantly love their children and if they didn't, they weren't good mothers. I lived with this guilt for a month before I finally confided in JD and my best friend. I would have told someone sooner but I wasn't depressed and didn't want anyone suggesting that maybe I was. Also, I felt that I would be terribly judged. They were totally supportive and told me that I was normal. Being a new mother is exhausting and confusing and full of pressure to get it right. They told me to relax and enjoy my baby. Everything would happen naturally.

And it did. Once I admitted how I felt, I suddenly felt free to love her. Like I wasn't trying to hide my secret anymore. I always felt like she could see through me anyway so that added to my guilt. I also discovered many other new moms felt the same as me. Sometimes it takes time to bond with a baby. Even as I fell in love with her, I still never felt relaxed or calm about being a mother. Would I screw up her life? Would she hate me? Would I be a good example to her? I have always felt way under qualified for this role. But as she has grown and is a complete mommy's girl, I know that I have done all right. We are gonna make it. She is healthy and smart and loved.

Now I want 3 more kids, all girls. I can't wait to feel what a pregnancy full of excitement and anticipation is like instead of dread and fear. I also know that if I don't instantly fall in love with a new child, I am not a freak. I am a person doing the best that I can and wants to love the crap out of my kids. Just not in utero. Remembering all of the turmoil and angst that led up to this place of peace and confidence in my ability to love and mother makes me glad. Glad that I am not there anymore. Glad that I am normal. Whatever that may be. And glad that I am completely in love with my baby. Even if it took a little extra time.


  1. I too had the hardest time bonding with my child and I know exactly how you felt when you said your daughter could see right through you. It took a long long time for me to finally feel that bond. Now as each day passes I fall more and more in love with my daughter. I never knew I had this much love in my heart for another human. Took me a bit to get there but I am so glad that I am here.

  2. cute baby,
    beautiful mother and baby.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I know there are many women who need to hear that they aren't bad moms for not instantly bonding.