It Isn't Always Love at First Sight for New Parents
Earlier I was playing with my daughter: tickling, pulling faces and making funny noises. She was giggling away and that gorgeous grin and infectious laughter made my heart feel warm and overflowing with love for her. This wasn’t always the case though.
I still remember vividly the day she was born. I remember from the contractions till the moment she was placed in my arms. And I looked at the tiny bundle and felt… nothing. I wanted to say something profound or loving, but all I could say was “It’s a baby.”
I did everything I should. The first feed. The nappy changing. And so on. But I still didn’t feel that bond. I was exhausted, and I did what I had to. But it felt like a chore for this tiny creature who cried and pooped but whom I had no attachment to. I could see she was beautiful and cute. But she didn’t feel like mine, and I didn’t feel like hers. This continued.
I could appreciate her beauty, but I could not feel that bond I had felt almost instantly with my son. And I felt so guilty! She was my daughter. And I knew I would do anything for her, protect her with my life if need be, but I couldn’t give her the love she deserved. After failing at breastfeeding, the guilt continued. I started warming up to her and feeling the love, but I felt like she knew I was struggling, and liked everyone else more. I felt like the love I felt was getting there, but it was only one way. I cried about it and felt guilty again and again.
My diagnosis of postnatal depression (PND) lessened the guilt to a degree, and being on medication helped me feel better in myself. I started to believe also that maybe she did love me after all. I started to feel like I wasn’t the one at fault for how I felt, and I did feel better.
When she was around 6 months old I had this special moment where I was just spending time with her and suddenly I felt this overwhelming love for her wash over me. It was what I had expected to happen when I first met her, but for me took about six months. I cried tears of joy that day. I finally felt I was starting to recover from my PND and could build a relationship with my daughter.
When she was 6 months old and said her first word (It was “mama!”), it was such a proud moment for me because my little girl had spoken but also meant so much more because it really helped dissolve my fears about her not liking me as much. From then on our relationship got stronger and stronger and we have made it to today.
She is a year old on Saturday, and I could not love her anymore than I do. She is cheeky, gorgeous, strong and clever. I look at her and I am overcome with love. She is my little baby girl, and I love her with all my heart. Yes we may have had a rocky start, but we got there.
If there are any mothers or fathers out there who are struggling to bond with your child, there is hope. It may not come over night, but keep going. It isn’t always love at first sight.
Image via Thinkstock.