When my daughter was born I worried that I didn’t feel love for her like I thought I should. Sometimes there is a lot of pressure put on first time moms to be caught up in a pink cloud magical happiness. Like all the “other moms”. We’ve all heard “them” talk about it. And you know, what they are saying is true, but it might not be the whole story.
The first time I held my little girl I was silenced by wonder. I had dreampt of meeting her since I was a little girl. And now she was actually, physically there. In my arms. I wanted to say something special. I wanted to grace her with the gift of beautiful words. But I was silenced. And all I could say was “Hi.”
Every time I tried to talk for the first half hour all that came out was “Hi.” I whispered it. Instinctively I poured all the hope and dreams I had stored up for her into those two little letters. Like the strokes of a feather on her cheek, the breath from my mouth, anointed her with love. It was an amazing feeling.
But I also remember feeling like she was a total stranger. Even though she was stunningly beautiful, she looked nothing like I had imagined. And even though she had been in my body for nine months I felt I didn’t know her. I had heard so many prophetic words about her life, but didn’t see any indicator on her physical body that confirmed them to be true. I didn’t feel my heart explode with overwhelming love for this new person.
My husband did. He cried the from the first moment he held her. He said he felt a switch just turn on and he was a Dad. He didn’t want to be parted from her for even a moment. I could see he felt a passion for our daughter that I didn’t feel. He called her his daughter. But those words felt strange in my mouth. But I was sure with time it would come. It had to.
When we left the hospital my feelings were the same. I would do anything to care for this little human, but I didn’t feel all mushy in love. My emotions were very logical in nature. To the point. Keep the human alive. I was also very high. But that should have made my emotions come even closer to the suffer not get shoved deeper down. But who knows. I wasn’t too worried. Yet.
My mother had warned me that on day three after birth your hormones spike and it causes a lot of emotional stress. I was sure this was the day I would feel all the loves. But day three came and I felt fine. Other than the fact that my milk came in, it was just another day.
My husband on the other hand lost it. He cried like a baby afraid he would lose her and that she would some day grow to not need him any more. He held her close and wept he was so overcome by love. I started to wonder if something was wrong with me.
I do have a history of not displaying my emotions well. Maybe I had just buried them. Maybe I would never feel crazy in love? That was ok. Right?
About a week after she was born I laid her down to sleep in her bed in the living room. It was probably about 10:30 at night. The lights were mostly off and I sat on the couch and watched her breath in the shadows.
She was so beautiful. So utterly perfect. Unbroken and fresh. Clean and trusting. I felt so helpless to stop time. To keep her this way forever.
I started to think about how she would grow. And for the first time I saw all the pain that she would have to encounter in the world. All the darkness I knew I could not protect her from. Pain is a part of life. I knew it would, at some point, be my job to allow her to feel it. So that she could grow into all that she was meant to be.
My heart ripped open. I had been so eager to get her out of me and now all I wanted to do was to bring her back inside. Where she would be safe. I felt my chest heave and a whimper sort of spilled out.
And then I just lost it. Ugly crying, there in there dark, next to my tiny, tiny… daughter. My daughter. All of the sudden she was mine. My now broken heart wrapped itself around her. We were one again.
I don’t know why I didn’t feel it before. I don’t know why it happened then. Or even how. But from that moment I was changed.
My plan had been to let her sleep in the living room. To teach her that it was ok to be in the other room. But now I couldn’t bare to have her that far away. I picked her up and brought her to the room with me. I tried to be a responsible parent and put her in her little cot next to me instead of right next to me in bed. But we only made it a few minutes as she was crying a terrible cry.
That was the night I brought her to bed with me for good. As I lay there next to her that night I felt myself spirit transform into a mother. Powerful, strong, protective and beautiful. Like a lioness.
The next morning I still had no idea what I was doing, but I was in love. So it was all different. She was my daughter now. And forever.
Whenever anyone asked me how I was feeling about being a mom in those first few days I said it was amazing. Because it was. And when anyone asked me after my moment I said the same thing. I never really talked to anyone about the journey because to me it didn’t seem to matter. But I am not such a good judge of what things matter and what don’t. Looking back now I can see that it was a big deal.
What did you feel after your first child was placed in your arms? Did you have any emotions that surprised you? How did you manage them? Do you have any advice for first time mothers on bonding?