Throughout my pregnancy, I would see countless posts on social media of mamas meeting their babes for the first time and gushing about this magical moment after birth. They would share how they finally knew their purpose for living and that they couldn't even explain this overwhelming sense of love. I nonchalantly assumed I would feel the same, because I too was about to become a mother. Right? Wrong.
Me? Immediately after I delivered, I had two pairs of hands up in me trying to get my uterus to stop bleeding for an hour. In conjunction with this lovely occurrence, I now had this new little creature chomping on my boob, which would randomly spurt out milk. Surreal? Yes. Uncomfortable? For sure. Magical? Not so much.
During pregnancy, so much focus is put on the baby. You read the books, watch the DVD's, and take the classes, but what about mom? After a short three-day stint in the hospital, C-section mamas who can barely stand up straight and those of us whose vaginas just went to Vietnam and back are now supposed to go home and take care of such precious cargo? The baby I was prepared for, the aftermath to my body, I was not.
As we arrived home, I was flooded with texts asking how amazing motherhood was and how head over heels in love I was with her. As I sat in my ice diaper putting lanolin on my cracked nipples, my response would be, "Uh, we are in the dating stage right now." And we were. Those beginning months, we were getting to know each other, understanding our quirks, and courting one another.
I had it pretty easy in the beginning, really nothing to complain about. She was a chill baby, great eater and sleeper and my hormones were in check. The first two weeks I was running on complete adrenaline. Once they were over I wanted someone to high five me and be like, "Congrats! She is back at her birth weight. You survived, you're done!" But at week three, it all set in. I turned to my husband on the couch and literally said, "Oh my God, she's never leaving." His reply, "Not for eighteen years."
Maybe it wasn't necessarily that I was having trouble falling in love with her, it was more about grieving and coming to grips with the loss of the self-centered life I once lived. When you've lived like that for thirty years, it's a major adjustment realizing it's not all about you anymore. No more hitting the snooze button and no more spontaneous weekend getaways.
While nothing may have completely readied me for what was to come, there were a couple things I'm glad I did in preparation. I had my placenta encapsulated and I took those pills every day for six weeks. It helped with my hormonal fluxes and I felt completely stable and didn't cry for no reason like a lot of my friends did. I still take the tincture to this day if I'm having a bad one.
Also, the week before my due date, I alerted my therapist I was expecting, in hopes she could help me navigate this huge milestone in my life once it came. I feel like it should be completely covered by insurance for all new moms to receive some at-home mental healthcare after a baby. Just as you bring in your baby for check-ups right away, the same should be done for mom. As a country, if we put as much money and effort into our mental health as we did our physical health, there is no doubt we would be much better off as a society.
Having a support group also helps. I joined a Mommy and Me group when my daughter was five-weeks-old, and I'm so thankful I did. Yes, you have your friends and family who offer to help, but joining a group with women who have given birth within weeks of each other and who are experiencing the same things as you was beyond helpful for me.
Now before you go commenting about how I should be all hashtag blessed that I could even have a baby and that it was healthy, don't get me wrong, I truly was. All that I'm saying is that it is different for everyone, and we shouldn't be made to feel bad about that. I was so thankful my friend was honest with me and told me it took her a while to fall in love with her son. It really resonated with me, which is why I wanted to be honest and share this with all of you.
Love...For some it's instantaneous, for some it takes a bit longer, and for some it may take professional help to get to that point. For me it took about four months. Point being - no way is the right way. We are all just simply new moms, trying to survive each day, and doing the best that we can.
But now, I can confidently say the love I have for my daughter severely outweighs the old days of sleeping in and showering daily. Even during the hardest of times whether it be during a growth spurt or teething, all it takes is one of her gummy smiles or belly laughs to make me realize I would rather spend a bad day with her, then a good day with anybody else.