Everyone talks about that moment when you first see your baby, about a huge rush of love and harps sounding from the heavens. When I was pregnant for the first time, among the many “you’ll sees” or “you just waits” were predictions about the monumental love I would feel for my son the moment he was born. I just wouldn’t understand until I experienced it, they would say. Well, after 37 weeks of pregnancy, 12 hours of labor and 15 minutes of pushing, there he was. This pink, gooey, blonde-haired baby boy was earth-side and he was mine. They placed him on my chest, and I waited for the choir of angels to start singing…but they never did. I was exhausted, in pain, and about to deliver my placenta. I tried to will myself to feel the rush of love that I was supposed to, but everything else going on seemed to trump love at that moment.
Once the doctor was finished stitching me up and the delivery room had calmed down, my doula asked me how I was feeling. Was I exhilarated? Was I amazed? Was I in love? My memory is a little foggy, but I believe my response to her was that I didn't feel much and that I was tired. Everything was still sinking in. The surprise induction, the difficult labor, and my son being brought to the NICU…I was so scared and overwhelmed, I don’t think I had space for falling in love. So a few hours after giving birth, I still waited for that magical moment of love between my new baby and me.
I felt a bit like a terrible mother (yep, mommy guilt already rearing its ugly head). Why didn’t I fall in love with my baby? I certainly cared for him and wanted what was best, but I still didn’t feel that amazing rush that so many moms described to me while I was pregnant. What was wrong with me? Maybe it was the Pitocin I had during labor? Maybe it was that I was unprepared for the earlier than expected delivery? Maybe it was all of it or maybe it was none of it? Perhaps some moms just need time to take on their new role as a mother? After talking about it, I found out that what I experienced was completely normal! It was such a relief to find out that not all moms experience love at first sight, and that I wasn't a terrible person for not bonding right away. I wish I known that I wasn’t alone in this because it would have saved me a tremendous amount of self-doubt in my first weeks as a new mom!
After some time I did finally get my "OMG I love him so much" moment, and it was amazing. My love has grown with my son every day since. I so enjoyed the journey of getting to know my little man and falling in love. I am not trying to convince anyone that love at first sight is impossible, because that’s not true. You might fall in love with your baby the moment your eyes connect. But you might not and that’s okay, too. We should celebrate the uniqueness of every mother-child relationship because each mama and baby have their own journey to love. Some journeys simply take longer than others.