Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back when I didn't love Elle

When I was pregnant with Elle I would hear women say things like "I fell in love as soon as I saw my son/daughter for the first time" or "The second they put her/him in my arms I felt an overwhelming sense of love". I looked forward to that moment. But see, the thing is, it never happened to me.

When Elle was born she had to go right to the NICU because she was having a little trouble breathing. I only got to hold her for a very brief minute. In that time I didn't feel love. I felt ...... not a whole lot. I was tired, I was in pain, I was confused and I was hungry. Once she was whisked off to the NICU I really just wanted to get something to eat.

The next day when Elle was back in my room with me I wanted to get up and shower. It hurt to move so I slowly, slowly rolled her little bassinet over to the bathroom. I had trouble getting her bassinet over the bathroom door jam and for some reason I couldn't handle that. I sat on the edge of the tub and I cried and cried. At that moment I resented Elle for being there. All I wanted was a stupid shower and I couldn't even get one because this baby and her stupid bassinet were keeping me from it. Thank goodness Jesse showed up just then and he watched her while I showered. I wonder how long I would have sat there and cried if he hadn't shown up.

That night I had Elle sleep in the nursery. The nurses were suprised. "Babies don't usually sleep in the nursery!" they all said. I didn't care. I didn't want her in the room with me. I wanted to sleep. I wanted a break because every time I looked at her I felt guilty for not loving her the way a mother was supposed to love their baby. I felt like shit.

Things didn't get a whole lot better once we got home. At the time I was scared that maybe I had PPD but looking back I don't think I did. I think I was tired and stressed and feeling guilty for not loving my child the way I thought I was supposed to. When she would cry during the night I would beg Jesse "Please, please, please don't make me get up with her again. I just can't do it." He would always say "Yes you can." and he was right, I could. But I did it out of a sense of obligation, not out of love.

That's not to say that I didn't feel anything for Elle. I felt protective of her. Sometimes I liked her. But I didn't love her.

I don't know when that changed. There was never a single moment where I fell in love. I think it happened in little steps for me. Nursing was so hard for both of us at first and then one day we just "got it" and that made things a little better. One night she slept for 3 hours in a stretch and that made things a little better. One day she smiled at me and that made things a little better. One day I was away from her for several hours and when I came back she clung to me and that made things a little better.

Slowly but surely I feel in love with my daughter. I stopped doing things for her because I felt like I had to and started doing them because I loved her, because I wanted to.

Looking back I don't feel bad about not loving Elle at first. What I feel bad about is that I didn't know that it's pretty common to not fall instantly in love with your child. I wish I had known that I was not alone. I wish I had known that someday the love would come, that someday this child would become half the reason my heart beats (Joseph being the other half of course). I wish I had know that someday we would have this.....


shyestviolet said...

you're so honest. you have no idea how much I appreciate your perspective. it's like my own little primer on "man, someday, I could maybe do this."

Anonymous said...

I wish I would have known how 'normal' that is....I didn't feel anything but resentment when Fa was born....Oh the times I cried over that...

Thank you...Someone out there needs to read this, I'm sure of it.

Angela said...

I wish I had read this when I DID have PPD. I wish there had been one person..just one..who could have been this honest. What an important important post.

Emily said...

How wonderful that you posted this. While I did not have this experience, many of my friends did. They hid it and felt guilty about a totally normal response to new motherhood.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I had an emergency c-section with my first daughter and the first 36 hours or so I was completely frazzled, exhausted, and on the brink of freaking out I was so tired and in so much pain. I was anemic and had just barely missed having a blood transfusion. I remember crying in the middle of the night at the hospital and feeling like I had been robbed of "easy childbirth," which was what all my girlfriends had had! It took me a few weeks to get in the mama groove. With my second it was much much easier but then her birth was much easier on me physically.

Thanks for being so honest!