Truths about Motherhood, Part 1

So, the arrival of my nephew last Saturday and my sister’s advancing pregnancy have made me think back on all of the things I didn’t know before LB arrived.

The problem was, I didn’t know I didn’t know these things. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for.

I was wrong.

This series of posts (that will probably be spread out over days and weeks – I do have an almost 5 month old and a full time job, after all) is going to be dedicated to getting some of the unspoken, surprising truths about motherhood out there for all the other clueless first time moms.

The first truth about motherhood (henceforth referred to as a TAM) is this: when they first hand you your baby, it is okay if you are not overwhelmed with love, you are simply overwhelmed.

Other mommies will tell you, “I didn’t know what love was until I saw my child for the first time. I was blown away by the wave of emotion I experienced.”

Well, woo hoo for them.

When LB was placed on my chest for the first time, I felt a lot of different emotions. Panic at the thought that this little creature was totally dependent on me and DB. Bewilderment that we had a daughter when I was positive we were having a son. Exhaustion after almost 30 hours of labor and an overwhelming desire for a nap. Uncertainty as I tried to coax her onto the nipple for that (ostensibly) crucial first breast feeding. Irritation that my mom was shoving the phone in my face and telling me to talk to my sister. Sadness that it would officially never be just me and DB again. Fear that I was doing something, everything wrong and I was irrevocably damaging my daughter already. A niggling doubt that I had made a huge mistake and I shouldn’t have become a mother.

I felt a lot of things. An overwhelming rush of love wasn’t one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I love LB with a fierceness that amazes me. I can’t imagine our lives without her. The thought of anything happening to her makes me simultaneously terrified and angry and super protective. But it wasn’t instantaneous.

At least, not for me. And not for a lot of other moms I’ve talked to.

But most women don’t want to admit it because thy worry what other people will think of them. “You weren’t head-over-heels for your child immediately?!? What kind of shitty mother are you?!?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that it is okay to be panicked and overwhelmed and terrified and uncertain when you meet your baby for the first time. Hell, its okay to feel that way for the for the first few days or weeks. It it is okay to fall in love with your child gradually.

It doesn’t make you a bad mommy.

It makes you a normal one. (Or at least a normally abnormal one, which is really the best a lot of us can hope for…)

One thought on “Truths about Motherhood, Part 1

  1. Awesome.

    Hindsight. I wonder if, 5 years from now, you won’t be so overwhelmed by those doubtful thoughts because we (thankfully) have a tendency to remember the good parts, so maybe all of that vanishes for some people and they forgot they felt it, then think you shouldn’t feel it either.

    Another thing I’ve been noticing is the ungodly number of people who give us advice and tell us what we *will* feel and what we *will* do and how it *will* affect us (fuck, that’s annoying!). The biggest thing I notice about this is the amount of things people think they *should* feel. I’ve even had a person say “I started feeling but knew that was wrong, so made myself feel .”

    We all do that at the best of times “This is how I *really* feel, but I feel bad if I feel that way, so I’ll pretend to myself that I feel this other way because that’s right/proper/whatever.” So, when they say “The first time I held my baby…” they would never follow it with “…I wanted to run like hell!” because that would be “wrong.” The thing is that “Overwhelming sense of love” sounds so much more positive! It’s right out of “Eat, Pray, Love!” and makes us all feel better about being the perfect person we should be.

    One thing I love most about you is that you are honest about that shit. You don’t say “This is how I *should* feel, so I’ll say that.” A beautiful, if sometimes scorching, honesty. I wish I could be more like you in that way. I’ve been thinking a lot about parenthood recently, for obvious reasons, and I think we all need to spend more time experiencing, and understanding, what we *actually* feel, rather than what we think we’re supposed to feel– and helping our children have the courage to do that as well. I honor you for that– especially because I’m already feeling some of the same things, and Jessica is only 12 weeks along.

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