Ok, so I won’t lie…I really wasn’t up for labour. I’d always felt an undeniable fear that I would die in childbirth; that my body just wouldn’t be up to the task. Dramatic, perhaps? Well…the dread of the unknown cannot be underestimated, and the idea of what can be likened to passing a pomegranate through your nostril isn’t exactly a comfort. What women go through in order to bring a new little person into this world doesn’t have the most gleaming of reputations.
A lot of new Mothers report back that it all becomes worth it in the moment their tiny pink bundle of sticky, slimy joy is safely delivered into the world and placed on their chest, skin to skin. That they felt this incredible rush of love and wonderment take over their entire body in a delightful cocktail of hormones, like coming up on some kind of super strength MDMA.
I did not feel ANYTHING like this. At ALL. Don’t get me wrong, I was totally overwhelmed and in awe to finally meet our darling baby girl, at her beauty, and to hold her for the first time… But mostly, I was relieved and shell-shocked after reaching the end of a 2 day labour, having not slept a wink for nearly 48 hours and completely up to my eyeballs in all kinds of hospital drugs. To be honest, I felt numb. Literally and figuratively.
Thankfully, I knew it was possible for it to be the case that I wouldn’t experience the much-coveted instant ‘warm and fuzzies’…so it wasn’t the worst surprise to discover that I didn’t fall madly in love straight away. It does make me wonder though, whether some Mothers encounter their first bitter taste of ‘Mum guilt’ very early post-delivery, and may end up punishing themselves for not feeling these emotions, experiencing anxiety, or even questioning whether or not they might have PND.
I think there are a lot of expectations put on new Mothers to act and feel a certain way once their baby arrives, and to report only the instagrammable, romanticised version of birthing a child, but the reality is often that we’re tired. So, so tired. Sore. Sometimes pretty traumatised. Overwhelmed by everything we’ve just been, and are still going through.
The instinct was there to protect and love my baby from the moment I found out I was pregnant, and this only intensified once she was born. But, the love I have for her now is different. It’s a love so irrationally strong that I can unreservedly tell you that it has brought tears to my eyes, in what I suppose you could call a ‘rush of love’. It’s a love that has grown along with her as we’ve spent more and more time together, and I’ve gotten to know her little ways.
Her adorable crooked-mouth yawn. Her cheeky grin where her whole body scrunches up, so beside herself with joy that her very face may split in half and she might explode. Her tiny grunts of frustration, complete with furrowed ‘barely-there’ brow, turning pink with rage. I could go on…and I’m sure you can list a million things about your own beautiful baby that you fell for in the hours, days, weeks, months and years after their birth, even in the absence of an instant ‘love at first sight’ in L&D. It seems that for lots of Mummies, this is the way they fall in love with their baby; gradually, over time.
Either way, in the end, we all love our gorgeous little babies, and however we get there; I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite like it. It’s true what they say; it really is just the best thing. Like, ever.