A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post that apparently resonated with a lot of women called 7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Baby. I received several responses from moms telling me that they could relate to my new mom struggles. I now want to expand on the one that was the most personal and the most difficult for me – the struggle to bond with my new baby.
Before I had my first baby, women were constantly telling me how wonderful motherhood is. They would tell me things like, “The minute they put that baby on your chest, you won’t even remember the pain,” or “It’s all worth it once you meet that little one.” This brought me tremendous relief, as I was terrified of giving birth. I was also a bit hesitant about the whole motherhood thing. Even though I was excited about the addition that was coming to our family, I was still unsure about what kind of mother I was going to be. I still wasn’t sure that I would love being a mother. Hearing mother after mother talk about how it just came naturally upon delivery was very reassuring to me. I assumed the right feelings would come as soon as my baby did.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it happened. When I gave the final push and they put Aidan on my chest, I just felt relief that labor was over. I didn’t feel any kind of instant bond with him. When I looked down at him, it felt like I was watching someone else. He felt like a stranger to me. He didn’t feel like mine. I was just holding a baby. I certainly didn’t feel those feelings everyone had told me would come as soon as I held him. I thought to myself, “This isn’t right. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”
“What is wrong with me?”
On our first outings together, I was constantly bombarded by women saying, “Isn’t motherhood the best feeling in the world?” and “Did you ever imagine you could love anyone this much?”
I understand their excitement now. I understand their sentiments now. The problem was … I didn’t have those feelings then. I would smile, nod, and agree. I would give all the appropriate responses and say the right words. But inside, I was devastated. Motherhood wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world, and I didn’t have overwhelming feelings of love toward my baby.
That made me feel awful. I was wracked with guilt. What kind of mother was I? My fears were coming to pass – I was not cut out to be a mom. I didn’t have the right feelings.
I didn’t know what to do. Obviously, there was no turning back. Aidan was mine regardless of my feelings. I was his mom, and he needed me. So I did the only thing I could do. I took care of my baby.
But all the while, I was distraught over the fear that I didn’t love him like I was supposed to.
Turning a Corner
A few weeks down the road, however, things started to change. As I fell into a new routine with Aidan, and I got better at caring for him, the feelings started to come. As I held him, rocked him, and snuggled him, the bond grew stronger. I stopped feeling like I was babysitting someone else’s child, and I began to connect with my precious child.
Eventually the day came that I thought, “Wow! Motherhood is the best feeling in the world! And no, I can’t imagine ever loving someone so much!” The feelings were sudden and overwhelming. And now, over two years later, I’m constantly amazed at the amount of love I have towards him, and my heart feels like it could literally burst from it.
Related post: 7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Baby
Encouragement to New and Soon-to-be Moms
I let you into this very personal part of my experience to you for one reason. To let my story be encouragement and reassurance to new or soon-to-be moms. You will be flooded with well-intentioned women gushing about the wonders of motherhood. For many, those feelings come the first time they hold their babies. But it may not always come right away. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t experience the same kind of instant connection with your baby. Like me, it may just take time.
And that’s okay! Because love isn’t about feelings. Love is sacrificial. Putting your wants aside to take care of your child is love, regardless of the presence or absence of butterflies. In the meantime, don’t despair! They will come, I promise. Give yourself grace. You are fit to be a mom.
I’m sure my experience is not unique. Comment below with your own words of encouragement!