I always wanted children, I dreamed of the perfect life my little family would lead. Me, my husband, and two adorable children to give all our love too. So at the age of 24 and after 2 years of ‘not trying but not not trying’ I was over the moon to find out that I was pregnant with the little girl I had always dreamed about.
That’s why when I held my baby in my arms for the first time, it shocked me that my reaction was…OH!
I was waiting for the rush of love you hear about. Like ‘Johnson’s Baby’ had pulled my uterus strings with in their adverts and new mums had me ‘awwwwwwing’ over when they introduced their new baby to me.
I waited a full day.
Then a week.
Until a number of weeks later I still hadn’t felt it.
What I did feel was fear, anxiety at my new role, and a horrendous amount of guilt!
If I didn’t love my child, did that mean I was a horrible mother?
At the time I thought it did. I was already feeling like I was failing as a mother because I was finding it so hard. That detail added another trigger for Postnatal Depression to develop.
But what no one tells you in the lead up to your child’s birth is that ‘love at first sight’ isn’t always the norm. It can be very common for you to grow to love your child instead.
Try to compare it to you falling in love with a partner, or when someone new has came into your life that you care deeply about. Did you look at them straight away and feel the gut wrenching love? You may have, or you may just have cared for them. But I’m sure, like a lot of people, your love developed through time of getting to know one another.
Now why should that be any different to our children? They are very new people to us that we have a lot of responsibility for. They don’t love us straight away, they learn to love us just like we do them. And how long this takes between each parent is completely different. Don’t believe me… have a read of some other parents experiences .
Not loving your child that first moment doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. For some people love grows when they find out they are pregnant, for others it begins to grow when they meet their child. Neither one is wrong or right.
Unfortunately it’s not very often that we hear about this side of parenting. We grow up hearing the positives of an unconditional love more than we do of the possible reality and this is why some women (especially me) find it a bit taboo to bring this subject up. We can feel we are mutants and horrendous mothers for not conforming to the ‘norm’. But there is no ‘parenting norm’ there is only your ‘normal’, because as no two babies are the same, neither are parents.
I may not have loved my children at first sight but I can happily say now they are the two people I love the most in this world.
Even after a rocky start, I remember the day I realised I loved my daughter. It was 10 weeks after she was born and it was the day she first smiled. That smile made me relax, because it meant she was happy. And there I was able to take a deep breath and see the bigger picture. That I did love my daughter and I had always cared about her, I had just been caught up in the ‘perfect parent’ crap that I hadn’t noticed it happening.
My only wish is that what I know now I had known sooner. Maybe I could have been a lot kinder to myself in those early days.
Remember to be kinder to yourself too.