Not loving your baby right away is a tabu, people just do not speak about it. A pregnant woman has to love her baby even before it is born. That is just how people think it is supposed to be. In reality, over 30% of new moms (that we know of!) don’t feel that rush of love right away. I didn’t love my baby right away, and that is ok!
Whether it is because of a traumatic birth or a hard pregnancy, a large number of women simply do not feel that undying love for their babies. The type of love every single friend of yours felt for their baby when they felt that first kick.
I DIDN’T LOVE MY BABY RIGHT AWAY, AND THAT IS OK!
It took 45 hours between my water breaking and Benjamin being born. During that time I didn’t feel that loving feeling towards him. At first, I felt bored, then annoyed and at the end, my instinct pretty much kicked in. Don’t get me wrong: I was excited about meeting my baby. And I worried once I realized something was wrong. But I didn’t feel love.
When the midwives and Markus brought up the baby, he wasn’t the first thing I looked at. It was Markus whom I first looked at, whom I was relieved to see. They laid Benjamin on my chest and introduced us. He basically ignored me and continued sleeping, only whimpering when he was moved. I looked at him on my chest. My son, Benjamin. My son, Benjamin. He was so tiny and peaceful. His hands looked so fragile, his skin so soft. But I wasn’t afraid of holding him, of breaking him like so many new moms are. I knew how to hold a baby, how to change a diaper, how to dress them. And it did feel like being a mother, in that sense, came naturally to me. But love? I didn’t feel love right away.
THE “RUSH” NEVER CAME
I didn’t cry when I saw Benjamin for the first time. I didn’t have that awe moment when changing the first diaper, I didn’t really feel like I was his mother. Logically I knew he was my son, I was aware that he had come from me, but I felt disconnected. Maybe it was because I didn’t live the birth, I had a c-section under full anesthetic, maybe because I was still getting used to having a baby. But I never wished him harm, on the contrary, I wanted him to be safe all the time.
The first few weeks at home I was still in a lot of pain. My incision infected, I was severely anemic due to the blood loss and I won’t lie: it was hard! The majority of the time I felt like I was on auto-pilot. The remaining time I felt like a failure because I required help for the most basic things – like getting up or sitting down. It honestly felt like I was on a 24/7 babysitting job. As heartless as it sounds, that is how it felt.
IT CREPT UP ON ME
My feelings for Benjamin grew with every passing day. As his personality started coming through, so did my feelings for him. I realized I really love him on the 16th of May. The date is imprinted in my mind because it was the day Benjamin got his first shots. And no, the moment I realized my feelings wasn’t when he actually got the shots. In fact, his doctor said she was very positively surprised that I didn’t cry or panic when he cried and pretty much acted like, well, she did. I was calm and straightforward, which is also why he didn’t cry when he got the injections. No, the moment I realized I love Benjamin was later on that day.
In the evening, Benjamin was running a low fever. I hadn’t given him anything for it yet, because it was really low. But he started showing signs of pain – one of the side-effects of the shot and of which I was aware. The way he looked at me, his pain showing through his eyes, searching for comfort and security from me…THAT was the moment I realized it. That moment I cried with him – while Markus shook his head and muttered “women” under his breath. And that moment I realized, my love for him was always there. It was always in me. It just needed time to grow, just like he needed to grow inside me before being born. And it has been growing ever since.
So many women go through this, feeling like they’re bad mothers, feeling like they don’t deserve their babies. And so few talk about this openly, for fear of judgment. It is OK if you don’t love your baby right away. It doesn’t make you a bad person or less of a mother. That is how you are and that is OK. If you feel like you need help, reach out for it, talk to other women who went through the same thing. I assure you, WE won’t judge you!