I have been thinking about writing this for a few weeks, however I held off until I felt like I had all my thoughts gathered and organized. This is likely going to be a sensitive topic for a lot of moms, but I feel that it is extremely important to talk about in terms of the expectations of motherhood and the misconceptions that come with the first few weeks.
Booker is 10 weeks old now, and I am absolutely so in love with him, it continues to grow just when I think it's impossible. He is incredibly curious, alert, active, and most of all, the kid is just genuinely happy 99% of the time. I feel blessed that I have such a healthy and ~chill~ baby boy, and I cannot imagine my life without him. That being said, I want to share something deeply personal that I feel not a lot of women do.
I did not feel a loving connection to Booker when he was born.
Let me reiterate. I did not feel overwhelming love for my first born child. I was scared, shocked, and actually angry. After all the build up from 9 months of pure hell (in my specific case, a very difficult pregnancy), the anticipation to see his face, expecting to cry when he was placed on my chest, etc... nothing. No emotion other than I was happy it was over.
Now let me tell you something, I have never felt more like a MONSTER in my entire life. I remember crying to B the first night in the hospital about my swollen body, my lack of love for my child, and the insomnia I was experiencing. What was supposed to feel like the most joyous moment of my life felt like a relief that I didn't have to do it anymore, and now just felt like frustration for all the work to be done and sleep to lose. How was I going to be a good mother if I didn't love my child? Am I programmed incorrectly? Am I incapable of having the motherly instinct? Moral of the story, I was fucking terrified.
Here we are 10 weeks later, I literally could stare at my child all day long with the most annoying, giant smile. What changed? How is it possible to feel nothing and then so quickly feel everything? I wondered for that first month whether I was the only one to have an experience such as this, or if it was more common, yet nobody talked about it.
As I opened up about my story and feelings to other moms I trusted, I soon realized that I was not at all alone. In fact, almost everyone I talked to about it said they expected to feel more connection initially than they did. So it got me thinking as to why this is so common. Oh, duh. Because women are expected to feel a certain way once they become mothers. Every instagram caption, story on the news, or just stories told in person all end with the same message: "I never knew what love was until they placed my child on my chest." And guess what. I did it too. I lied about my experience because I thought that's how I was supposed to feel. I didn't feel comfortable being honest with the world, simply because I had never seen anyone else share a similar experience. I realized a couple weeks into motherhood that I needed to open up.
I 100% believe that many women in fact DO have that type of blissful experience. However, with the insane amount of hormones running through my body and the nature of my labor story, I just don't think my body had anything left to give. I was in labor for 7 hours total, 6 of just contractions and 1 hour pushing. The only time I had an epidural was for that last hour, just the pushing. It went by so quickly, so NOT by plan, and before I knew it, he was here. My brain didn't have the opportunity to even think about the fact I was going to meet my son, I was in survival mode... I just had to get through it.
But I did get through it, and I'm a bad ass. I have a love/hate relationship with being able to say my first epidural didn't work... mostly because OUCH but I feel so boss for getting all the way to 9cm without any pain relief. Will I do it again? Absolutely. Will I have a different emotional experience for baby #2? Probably.
Secondly, we need to talk about postpartum depression. I'm glad that it's starting to become a topic that has awareness and less stigma, but we can still do better. I have struggled with moderate depression since age 17, and it became severe when I struggled with my eating disorder from 2013-2016. I knew due to my history with depression that I had a higher chance to experience PPD, and that terrified me, because I know how terrible it is to live under that cloud. If I'm being honest, I would say that although I am experiencing a little PPD, it's not as bad as I anticipated, especially now. There was an adjustment period for me, however, I was trying to do too much, adding unnecessary stress. That's always been one of my downfalls, nobody expects perfection from me other than myself. I'm quickly realizing that motherhood is messy and never perfect. So my advice to every women, take it easy mama, enjoy the small moments because they go by so quickly. And if you are having PPD symptoms, please reach out for help.
My point of writing this post to is bring awareness to the face that EVERY WOMAN IS DIFFERENT. Every experience is different. Whether you're already a mom who has had an experience similar to mine, or not yet a mother but wondering what it may feel like, please understand that there is no RIGHT way to feel. I wish I had been more aware of these types of experiences before having Booker, it would have saved me the weeks of self-loathing and regret that I was a "broken woman". I am a wonderful mother, and I see that now. I was from the beginning, regardless of how my body let me feel, and I will continue to grow into an even better mother, because holy shit, I love my kid so much.
Thank you for listening. Take this as a reminder to just be real with your experiences in any aspect in life, you may never know who can relate and needs to feel like they have allies.
If you are experiencing these feelings that linger, or think you may have postpartum depression, please reach out to this hotline to get help. Postpartum depression affects around 20% of all mothers, and you are certainly not alone.