Falling in love…
Now, as I sit here watching my son splashing a stick in a puddle of water giggling every time little droplets land on his shoes, my heart is filled with love. I love him so much that my heart actually hurts. Sometimes I find myself welling up with pride just looking at his beautiful little face. I would move heaven and earth for this little human and cannot imagine my life without him. However, it wasn’t always this way…
Before he was born, everyone told me it would be “love at first sight”, several people described seeing their child for the first time as “a lightning bolt moment” when they were overwhelmed with love & others said they instantly felt like their life was complete. I expected to feel all of these things, but when my little boy was handed to me I felt numb. I was exhausted, emotional & totally overwhelmed – there was no lightning bolt moment, no rush of love, no feeling that I’d suddenly met the love of my life. To be frank, I felt like a bit of a failure – if everyone else felt this way surely there was something wrong with me? Perhaps I was not destined to be a good mum? Maybe I was depressed?
As all parents know, the first few days post birth are a complete whirlwind. Family visits, stitches, constant breastfeeding, sleep deprivation – I barely had time to think or worry. However there was still a nagging feeling in the back of my mind & a little voice who said, ” there has still been no lightning bolt moment, do you love him more than anything else in the world yet?”. People kept telling me how gorgeous he was, telling me I should be so proud, asking me if I could ever imagine my life without him now. Honestly? I said all the right things & made all the right noises but I felt like a fraud – I was winging it. The more days that passed the more I felt like the least natural mother in the world – I couldn’t even love my own baby. I gave up waiting for the lightning bolt moment & accepted that there was not a maternal bone in my body.
Then, around day 5 (after the hormones subsided a little & things started to calm down) I started to feel it. There was still no lightening bolt moment, but when I looked down at him & allowed myself to relax for a moment I realised I felt different. I looked at his big blue eyes, his tiny nose & the way he gazed at me & I felt it. From that moment on, my love for him grew day by day. 20 months on I love him more today than I did yesterday & I know that tomorrow I’ll love him even more. Now when I look back at those early days and weeks, I see that the way I felt was completely normal. I don’t believe in love at first sight nor do I believe in destiny or fate. When I met my husband I didn’t instantly know that he was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with – my love for him grew over time. As un romantic as it sounds, I don’t believe that he is the only man in the world I could have fallen in love with. But, I DO love him, very much, & have for a long time. Since I don’t believe in love at first sight, I don’t know why I expected my love for my son to be any different. I’ve grown to love him more and more as I’ve got to know him & now I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I realise now that those initial times post birth, when I felt a little empty and numb, were normal.
Since I’ve had my son several of my friends have also had babies & have confided in me that they too didn’t get the ‘lightening bolt’ rush of love either. They also thought that they were the abnormal ones. Turns out that not everyone feels instant, unconditional love for their new baby – most of us are shattered, sore, overwhelmed & so sleep deprived that we can’t remember our own name! So this is my message to new mums…..
It’s normal! You’re doing great. Don’t worry about it, it WILL happen. You will fall so in love with your baby that your heart melts when you look at them. But just like falling in love with your partner, it takes time. Very often what we see from other people – the photos, the Instagram pictures, the statements of instant, unconditional love aren’t entirely truthful. New mum life is hard and overwhelming – give yourself time to get to know your little human & fall in love at your own pace. You will look back at these moments in weeks or months and realise that you your love has grown so much that you could never imagine your life without your baby – you’ll love them more than you ever thought it was possible to love someone.