This is a hard post to write. It’s difficult to admit I wasn’t in love with my daughter from day one. I wanted her for so long, hoped and prayed and suffered, so being any less than completely in love with her sounds incredibly ungrateful. However, I know I’m not the only one that’s felt this way, and it needs to be talked about.
My daughter was born via C-section. I think this has a lot to do with it. It was not what I wanted, but it was necessary, and as long as she came into this world safely and healthy, I was happy. I didn’t get to hold her right away, didn’t get skin-to-skin till about an hour later. I didn’t see her emerge from my body, and she didn’t exit the way nature intended. I think all of that added up to me feeling a bit disconnected from her. Like some people have said about their relationships with adults: I loved her, I just wasn’t IN love with her.
Those first few weeks were hard. Not enough sleep, she was constantly fighting breastfeeding, I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I couldn’t enjoy her yet. She felt almost like a pet (that’s not as bad as it sounds; we REALLY love our pets). I loved her about as much as one of my nieces or nephews. I felt like a caretaker. The whole motherhood concept still hadn’t really sunk in.
Sometime around one month postpartum, I finally started feeling it: that gut-wrenching, soul-deep love for another human being. I had a DAUGHTER. My CHILD. It amazed me and filled me with joy. It had eventually hit me; I was in love. I had gazed at her before; now I drank her in. Her absolute perfection astounded me. How did WE create something so beautiful and perfect?
It’s not always this idyllic, of course. There are days when I just want to throw in the towel (not that I could). She can be exhausting and frustrating and impossible. My sister came over today to watch her so I could sleep for two hours after a horrendous night. But this morning, when I was at the end of my rope, my little (wide awake) angel gave me a giant goofy grin that seemed to go on forever, and I melted. I was completely exhausted, but the smile I gave back to her was totally genuine and full of love.
This is my baby girl. My heart. It may have taken a little while, but I try not to feel guilty. Birth and motherhood are HARD. I’m just doing the best I can.