As soon as I publicly announced my first pregnancy to family and friends, other moms could not help but constantly reassure me that the love I would feel for my child would be like nothing I have ever felt before—that as soon as I saw my baby’s face, I would be overwhelmed with warm glowy emotions, in a state of total bliss and blind to his imperfections.
As my pregnancy progressed, I felt a myriad of emotions, the primary one being sadness. I was mourning for the loss of life as I knew it, saying goodbye to all the ‘risky’ activities (my husband would not even allow me to ride a bike) and travel adventures that were the norm before those two pink lines. Don’t get me wrong—I was also excited, happy and nervous. But one thing I wasn’t, was overcome with unconditional love for my unborn baby. The whole experience of pregnancy was amazing. It was interesting, sometimes shocking, and transformative in so many ways, but I still felt like there was a stranger inside of me.
My Facebook feed seemed to be overflowing with pregnancy-related content. Pregnant friends constantly saying how in love they were with their little black-and-white ultrasound babies. I started to wonder whether there was something wrong with me for not feeling the same way. Or were they just exaggerating? Was this public display of emotion to meet society’s expectations? I reassured myself that I would feel the love rush in when the baby was born.
My due date came and went. An induction was scheduled. After 44 hours of laboring, my induction failed, and I needed a c-section. At that point it felt like I would never get this baby out of me, also like I possibly might die. But it happened, and he was born. The doctor put him on my chest for just a second before taking him away, and while it was a special moment, there was still no love epiphany.
Soon after the birth I realized and accepted that this is just how I approach love in general. There is nothing wrong with me.
I was officially a mother now, so wasn’t I supposed to feel like a changed person? What I did feel almost immediately was responsible. Those first few days, as my baby lay in the hospital bassinet next to me, and I struggled to move every time he squeak-cried, I thought: “Oh my god, I can’t ever be sick or hungover or take casual naps again, because this tiny human needs me.” And that was our relationship starting point.
Soon after the birth I realized and accepted that this is just how I approach love in general. There is nothing wrong with me. It takes me a little more time to get to know someone, to understand and trust them. And even though this was my own flesh and blood, he is also a person, an individual, and the catalyst of major change in my life.
With every feed, every new expression, diaper change, or challenge, I got to know my baby. The days went by, blending into each other in a sea of sleepless nights, breastfeeding, pumping, bathing, changing and spit up. There were still times where I felt I couldn’t cope with it all, moments of longing for my previous uninhibited life of unrealized freedom. But with each passing day our love and connection grew. And after a few months I reflected and recognized what all the moms had promised.
This undeniable feeling of pure, clean love. Like a fire burning in my chest. There is nothing I will not do to protect my child, and every sacrifice I make to ensure he has the best life I can provide is one hundred percent worth it.