Nothing quite prepares you for it. Especially for first-time Moms, this is one of the most surreal experiences ever. In my own case, from as early as my 25th week, I had pictures from my 3D scans, which showed my beautiful girls so clearly, I almost felt like I knew them already. And in the weeks leading to my delivery, I watched possible every episode of One born every minute, and other similar documentaries, just to get a feel of what that day would be like.
I was scheduled for a c-section for a number of reasons (the girls were breech and my placenta was lying low), so my doctor and I picked a date (when I would have hit exactly 37 weeks) for the girls to make their grand entrance. On that day, I got to the hospital at 6.30am, went through all the routine processes, and generally thought I was as ready as could be. The first wave of nervousness hit me as I lay on the theatre bed. I couldn’t see what was happening past the screen, but my heart was racing as I contemplated all the “what ifs”. All the horror stories from the one-too-many episodes of child birth reality TV flooded my head, and I felt myself beginning to panic. The additional helplessness of not being able to feel anything from the waist down (thanks to the spinal block) didn’t help matters either. Then I heard the loud cry of my first daughter, and I felt my heart literally burst with relief. I strained to catch a glimpse of her, but before I knew it, her sister was out. She didn’t make a sound at first, and just as I was beginning to panic, there it was…a loud and strong cry. Then they brought these two beautiful girls to me…..and it felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I just could not comprehend it. I was really a Mom? These girls were really mine? My brain just couldn’t grasp it. Soon, I was wheeled to my room to rest, while they cleaned up the girls, and in-between the heavy medication and the general excitement, I drifted in and out of sleep. The girls were soon brought back to my room when I was fully awake, and when I held them this time, it was crystal clear to me. These were my precious angels. The gifts I had prayed so long and hard for….it was at that moment that I was overwhelmed by this love I could not describe… second to none I had felt before. It was at that moment that we truly bonded, and I realised that yes, I was now a Mom!
But everyone’s story is different. A close friend of mine was fully into her labour when her epidural suddenly wore off. The raw pain tore into her brain like a bolt of lightening! And it was too late for any more to be administered, as she was already fully dilated. So she she felt every single push and pull. By the time her baby was delivered, she was drained and exhausted, and couldn’t muster the energy to carry the child. Her hands were so shaky that she felt she would drop the baby. She told me afterwards how she had been told that “when the baby comes out, you won’t remember the pain!”, and felt like such a failure for still being in too much pain to hold her baby. But, as was the case with me, after she had rested, nobody could pull her daughter out of her arms.
We are made to believe it will be love at first sight…and for a lot of Moms, it is. For other Moms, sometimes the strain, trauma, or even shock could make the experience seem so surreal at first. But more often than not, whether the very second you clap your eyes on your child, or maybe a few hours later, that overpowering love you hear about does kick in.
Before I continue, let me take a moment to describe that love. It envelopes you from head to toe…and you find that you can’t take your eyes off this wonderful creature. You watch the baby’s every movement…every breath the baby takes, every little movement of the finger…everything! You can’t get enough of looking at the baby’s face, inhaling the baby’s scent, having your finger gripped by those little hands…And for those that are able to breastfeed, when your baby is latched on and taking its very nourishment directly from you, the bond is indescribable. My love for my own Mom deepened after this experience, because I finally understood her love for me. It no longer felt annoying and stifling. I finally understood what a Mother’s love could be!
But as deep as the love might be, don’t feel guilty about wanting to just close your eyes and rest. Not only have you just gone through 9 months of carrying this/these full blown human being(s), you have had to physically birth them as well. No be small something oh! For those that argue that women who have c-sections face comparatively less trauma, whilst the process might be nowhere near as difficult and painful as having to labour and push out babies, their own trauma starts the minute the very minute the painkillers wear off. Whether by the best Ob/Gyn in Johns Hopkins or the Doctor in Mushin, no matter how delicate the incision, you are bound to be in considerable pain. I almost became an addict to the heavy medication, because the first few days post delivery, that pain was real!!!! Do not feel guilty about resting as much as you can, especially if you are still in the hospital. You have many many months of sleepless nights ahead of you, so it’s best for you to milk it as best as you can!
However, if you are one of those women who find it difficult to emotionally connect with your baby, days, and even weeks later, be assured that this is not entirely uncommon. Whether because of transferred aggression (sometimes precipitated by rape, bad breakups, infidelity, financial frustration), or indeed any other reason, the important thing is to realise that the baby is innocent in all of it, and not directly responsible for your woes. In these cases, the theory of love being a decision couldn’t be more apt, as you have to mentally decide to love this child. Unless you are giving the child away for adoption, loving it is your cardinal obligation as a Mother.
For Daddys, it might sometimes take a little longer to fall in love. Yes, they felt the kicks and saw the scans, but it often doesn’t become a true reality until they are holding that child in their arms. If your partner is taking a little longer to warm up to the baby, be patient with him. Odds are high that he feels clueless and shell shocked. Give him time, and he’ll come around.
So good luck…and get ready for the awesome, roller coaster months, and even years ahead!!!!!
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- Nicole’s Picture Library 🙂