Tuesday 28 April 2020

Motherhood | My Baby's Birth Didn't Bring Overwhelming Love

I always imagined the moment I'd give birth. I pictured - with such clarity - my baby being passed to me, followed immediately with a feeling of such love that I would be close to hysterical, with tears streaming down my cheeks. I'm a huge family girl with enormous love for my partner, parents, and friends. So I understandably assumed that the baby I birthed, that I carried for close to 10 months, would bring a level of love that I couldn't possibly fathom... but it didn't.

I wasn't void of love for my son and I certainly wasn't unhappy, far from it. It was an amazing experience. I just didn't feel the immediate overwhelming love I was expecting, the thing everyone bangs on about. The thing that - if not experienced - makes you worry you may have post natal depression or worse, may never love your child.

Tears did stream down my face the second I heard my son cry. But it was relief. Relief he was alive and had made it through those long 40 weeks unharmed. See, unlike most women, I made the decision to emotionally distance myself from my growing baby during pregnancy. So many heartbreaking things can occur during both pregnancy and birth, that I felt emotionally distancing myself would better prepare me if the worst were to happen. As a result, I purchased no baby products until the very last minute, avoided photos of my growing bump, and completely passed on having a baby shower. Sadly this emotional distancing didn't stop me worrying. I still panicked about upcoming scans and worried approaching midwife appointments wouldn't detect a heartbeat.

The rush of love I expected to have for my baby eventually came when he was around four weeks old. I knew I loved him before then, as I still worried about him constantly, put his needs over mine, and had to contain my rage if anyone made him cry (mainly healthcare professionals during his treatment for a dislocated hip - more on that later). However that intense can't-put-into-words love that I anticipated came a little later and, although unexpected, was perfectly ok.

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