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I didn't feel a connection with my baby while I was pregnant—but that changed the minute he was born

Even though our pregnancy was planned, I didn't feel mentally ready to become a mom.

I didn't feel a connection with my baby while I was pregnant—but that changed the minute he was born

As I sit here holding my son, rocking him back and forth trying to put him to sleep, I look at him and he stares back with eyes wide open. I can tell that sleep is nowhere near and we'll just pass the hours in a comfortable silence looking at each other.

I breathe in his freshly applied baby lotion. I know he is content because he is not fidgeting like he normally does when I try to put him to bed. Usually, I rush through the process of putting him to sleep because I am tired after a long day but tonight I hug him a little closer to feel his warmth and take a moment to enjoy just rocking him back and forth.

It is in this moment that I marvel at how, in a little over a year, this tiny creature has become the most important thing in my life. I wonder how I went from feeling like a stranger to him to becoming his mother.

I have slowly fallen in love with this child, but while I was pregnant, I wasn't sure if that would ever happen. It was a mix of emotions: A strange anxiety on meeting a new person and the fear of not being able to love and care for him the way I thought a mother should.

Even though our pregnancy was planned, I didn't feel mentally ready to become a mom.

During our first doctor's appointment, when the doctor pointed to our ultrasound on the computer screen, my husband's eyes almost immediately became moist from excitement whereas I was not sure how to react to a black pea-sized looking object on the computer.

I felt like Rachel from Friends, the only difference being that at the end of that scene, she actually cries on seeing that pea-sized object while I just continued to stare at it dumbly.

Appointment after appointment, as my bump grew I perfected my "excited grin" because I did not want the doctor or my husband to think that something was wrong was me. I slowly began to enjoy my pregnancy because I enjoyed the fact that I could eat anything and not feel guilty about it. I could stop working out and no one would bat an eyelash. I could no longer fit in my regular clothes so I could buy new clothes!

My husband swooned over me and became extra attentive, people were suddenly concerned if I ate on time and I did not have to worry about having a seat on the train (most of the time). All this attention and care was exciting but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew something was amiss.

I was excited about the things I would buy for my baby but not the actual baby itself. I loved my newly protruding baby bump but could not, for the life of me, connect to the living being inside it.

My pregnancy was quite uneventful, to the point where the first time I felt our son kick was the most exciting part. Things were pretty boring until I went into premature labor four weeks before my due date. After an excruciating 24-hours of induced labor, I went through an emergency C-section).

When he was finally handed to me that night, I cried. I felt joy like I had never felt upon seeing my husband hold our baby lovingly for the first time. Someone did rightly say: Labor is the only blind date where you will meet the love of your life.

I missed him when they took him away from me for tests. All the emotions that had somehow remained hidden all this time gushed out like a hurricane the minute that baby came out.

He was sent to the NICU on the night he was born after the pediatrician discovered he had distressed lungs and I nearly collapsed on seeing my frail 5.5 lb baby covered in wires lying in an incubator. I kicked myself for missing the chance to breastfeed him before he was sent off.

I slowly began to feel like this little creature belonged to me and I had to protect him. My tiny baby had more wires going into his body than hours he had been alive. I did not get my milk supply immediately so he was given formula, which he could barely digest so I began the painful journey of pumping every 2.5 to 3 hours to increase my supply as well as his chances of leaving the NICU sooner.

When we finally brought him home, we began to get to know each other. We worked together through the long sleepless nights, brought on by colic, that pushed me towards the brink of my sanity and survived.

I went from feeling terror when he started crying to becoming an expert in calming him down and putting him to sleep. From being clueless about what is upsetting him to being the only one who understands his babble.

I learned which song made him smile the most and his different "types" of cries. I felt comfort when he fell asleep on my chest. I enjoyed holding him, singing to him and even changing his diapers.

I did not suddenly become a mom who knew everything about her baby but now when it came to him, I felt a sense of calm rather than discomfort.

My life did not suddenly become all about him, but he became the most important part of it. It took time for us to build that connection but it happened.

And now I cannot remember the time when that connection was missing.

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14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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