It's that moment, that moment you've been waiting 10 months for. You've been through 10 hours of labour, and finally he's here, your baby. Your hands reach out when they hand him to you, and you look down and see...
A screaming, red, raisin. Where was the cute little baby you'd been promised? This wasn't him, this couldn't be him. This little thing is a stranger. And then the little raisin wants to nurse and it hurts and he's up every 2 hours and you just want to sleep. You think of your 1 year old back home who you love so much, and then the guilt sets in. Why don't you love this baby like you love that one?
This was me six months ago. I remember my mom coming down and asking me how I was doing a couple days after Jeremiah was born, and I broke down. Because I didn't love this baby. I mean sure, I was gonna keep him alive, and we were nursing, and I didn't want anything bad to happen to him... but I didn't love him either. He was a stranger, and a mean one at that!
I felt so bad.
And you know what my mom said to me? "Yeah. Sometimes it happens like that. You gotta get to know them first. It'll come, but for now, I'm sorry."
Just like that. Oh right, that. No accusations of child abuse, no hatred, no whispered rumours about how I'm a terrible mom. Just a quiet understanding of how hard it is.
Sometimes bonding doesn't happen in that moment. Sometimes that perfect moment, isn't so perfect.
Six months later, I can now say that I adore Jeremiah. I love his perfect little smiles, I love his awesome little giggles. I love how he prefers me to his dad. (Score one for mom!)
But I didn't then. With Elsie I had that moment. That moment where you first see them and you just love them. I didn't with Miah, and apparently, I'm not the only one.
Turns out, lots of moms have this issue. Lots of moms look at their children for the first couple weeks/months and think "Who the heck are you and why won't you sleep and why do you want to nurse again, don't you know my nipples hurt?" Turns out, it's normal too.
To the new mom who is googling this topic. IT IS NORMAL.
To the grandma who never struggled and is trying to understand her daughter: IT IS NORMAL.
To the friend who wants to assure her new mom friend: IT IS NORMAL.
Sometimes you gotta get to know them first. Sometimes... sometimes you have to be the adult in the relationship and take care of that baby even when somewhere deep in your heart, you're angry and resentful and you're sleep deprived and you just want to let him cry for a bit.
Moms, just keep holding that baby. Keep feeding him, keep getting up and rocking him. One day you will look at him and think "I love you." And you will mean it. Someday you'll look at that little baby and he won't be a stranger anymore. Someday he'll look at you and your heart will melt. I can't promise it will be today, I can't promise it'll be tomorrow. But it'll come. And maybe it won't BE that shiny moment that you're told to expect. Maybe it'll be that one day you wake up and you're happy to see him. And that's good too.
Moms, IT'S NORMAL. Needing to get to know your child is normal.
Do me a favour? Call someone, tell them you need help.
You don't have to do any of this alone. No one does. Whether you are struggling to bond, or had that blissful moment of bonding, or you are struggling with just getting up to care for your child... you are NOT alone. There are thousands of moms just like you out there, struggling to bond too, and there are those who have been there before, whose hearts break for you. Who are praying for you, the mom who is reading this post in a panic because she can't stand to hold this screaming ball of sleeplessness anymore.
Hold on. Someday IS coming.
I'm praying for you.
Now, there is a caution here. If you find yourself so upset you can't care for your baby, or you think you might hurt your baby, get help. Call your mom, your dad, your best friend, your OB or Midwife, call a help line, get someone to come over. Go to someone you trust and tell them you need help. Tell them what you are thinking and they can help you get help. Please.