pondering : did you fall in love with your newborn?

posted on: Wednesday, July 10, 2013


In some ways I think having a newborn is like going on a much-anticipated family holiday. It's hectic and confusing with long stretches of nothing broken up by periods of high drama and pure bliss.

But when I look back on the photographs it all looks so beautiful. And temporary. Because it was.

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Matt at Dad Down Under recently wrote about how one might feel ecstatic when their new babe arrives, but also one might not, and that's okay too.

I've had three different babes, three different births (eek, still no lady birth story by me, will I ever?) and experienced three different reactions.

One time I gave birth, looked at my baby and thought it was the most beautiful little creature I'd ever laid eyes on and immediately fell head over heels.

Another time I felt pleased. I looked at that little person and felt protective and oh so loving, but not in love, not yet. A day or so later I did though, so that felt okay.


Another time again I felt surprised. Not in an awesome way. I kind of thought, hmm, what do we have here?

It took me a while to admit that to myself. But I can see now that that time gave me something I wouldn't otherwise have; it gave me the chance early in my babe's life to know, not just assume, that I would love them no matter what. No matter if they weren't what I expected, no matter if I didn't feel in love. I would still love.

I like that.

Why do you think we tell parents-to-be that they'll feel love like no other? Is it just our natural reaction to be positive of a new life arriving? Is it because for the most part we do feel ecstatic?

Do you think we should be more open about the spectrum of emotions that fly around when a new babe arrives? Or do you think that's unhelpful?

Did you feel ecstatic when your newborn arrived? Or surprised? Or dismayed?

How did you feel? Or if you're a parent-to-be, how do you expect to feel? I'd love to know!

20 comments:

  1. I'm 2 weeks from my due date with Baby #2. I think my first reaction is to be protective, irrationally territorial and completely paranoid. Looking back at the 4 years that I've been a mother, I would say that I love my 4 year old more today than I did when she was first born. And that is my expectation for this second baby. I want to care and protect, but love is something else entirely. It is getting to know this little person. Their faults and strengths and wanting to kiss their face off anyway.

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    1. oh, I am so protective when I have a newborn. I think being territorial is probably an effective evolutionary survival instinct, never mess with a new mama ;)

      wishing you all the best for the birth and beyond nataliya!

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  2. I definitely think we need to be more open about sharing all types of emotions that one might go through when having a baby, not just the positive.
    When I had my daughter I didn't experience all of the initial feelings that others told me I would. I felt really guilty about it for quite some time after having her because I felt like I must be the only one. It left me feeling like I must be really awful for feeling this way.
    My feelings of uncertainty dwindled quickly, and needless to say, almost two years later she is the best thing to have ever happen to me. I love her more than words. However, I think it's so important for us to be open with one another about all sorts of emotions that we experience. For me, it would have been nice to know that maybe I wasn't the only one who had feelings of uncertainty and indifference with the arrival of a newborn.

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    1. abigail, I've also experienced many moments both in motherhood and life at large where I've felt I was the only one feeling the way I did. I would look around at other's normal-looking expressions and feel confused.

      I wish you'd have been able to know your feelings were normal then, but I'm really glad you do now :)

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  3. With both there was love, but huge fear. With Tamika (first born) there were complications during the birth and her heart stopped and I had a seizure. I was so scared I had 'damaged' her I did not want to hold her. I felt so much guilt. But my eldest sister who was with me during the birth, cut the cord, and then handed her to me saying "she is your child and not matter what you have done an amazing job bringing her into the world".
    With Jarvis I had an emergency C-section I was just so exhausted after three days of labour and surgery that I just wanted to sleep. Which again made me feel guilty. You know all of those advertised images of Mums sitting up glowing holding their new born. I was sweaty and tired and just wanted to sleep.

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    1. I looked like a total mess after having the boys. and after having the kiddo I had complications and transfusions. not the pretty picture at all. after having rose I looked more or less the same as usual (comparatively) which was kind of miraculous.

      I absolutely love what your sister said to you! bless her.

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  4. It took me a while to feel that ecstatic love.
    At first I felt bewildered and totally in a haze. And then I struggled with the sleeplessness and finding myself as a mother.
    I love Toddler C so, so, so much but I think it took me a while to open up to that love.

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    1. bewildered and haze are good words to describe many of those newborn days. x

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  5. having a newborn was definitely not what i expected. i had built up birth in my mind as the 'end all be all' of human happiness. i was weepy just thinking about it in the months leading up (thanks for nothing beautiful birth stories littering the internet, just kidding. i still love those stories). but when my son was born everything was surreal and calm. no emotions running-wild, etc.
    and when we brought him home all hell broke lose, i knew newborns and babies were hard, but man i didn't know they were this hard! i definitely had my doubts and some hardcore mourning of my former life (as well as quite a bit of shock), but as we transitioned to a family of three and welcomed the changes our life became good again. and those are the things that stand out and you end up telling expectant parents about.

    my husband and i were actually just discussing the newborn shock the other day - it definitely would have been helpful to know my baby wasn't going to sleep a wink the first night at home. but when i see my girlfriends nesting and growing ripe i don't have the heart to tell them how hard it's going to be - i don't want to be the downer. and do they really want to hear it? i don't know...would i really have believed someone when they told me how hard those first six weeks are? i don't know. i had to experience it for myself.

    anyhow, i'm rambling now. i did write a post not long after river was born about my initial reaction to him and falling in love, if you care to take a gander: http://jaclynlorraine.blogspot.com/2012/03/falling-in-love.html

    thanks for your honesty bron. i enjoy hearing from your heart.

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    1. I hear you! I'm off to read your post now. and thank you for your appreciation of this post, I'm planning to post more about what I know and feel from now on. it may take a while for it to be more common than not, but that is my plan :)

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  6. I couldn't agree more. I wrote a post about it here: http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com/on-loving-a-second/

    It took me longer to love my second and I'm ok admitting that.

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed this post.

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    1. oh yes, I definitely related to your post ashley. and while I could speculate about the whys and wherefores of the differences I have felt, I see no conclusive rhyme or reason. x

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  7. Hey Bron, I had one of those moments the other day, where I had a cluster of new readers and was left wondering who to thank. I think you are that person, thank you very much for referencing me and thank you for your honest and refreshing post I really enjoyed it - dad down under, but call me Matt : )

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    1. thanks matt! if this post was responsible I'm very glad. and thanks for your post -- I love when other's sentiments inspire me to take to the keyboard :)

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  8. Because my daughter was so longed for and so hard to conceive, I was in love with her from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Every scan, every movement, I was in love...and then I saw her, for real, warm and wet, which surprised me and she was beautiful, perfect. It it will always be the most joyous moment of my life. My husband caught that instant in a photo which I treasure so dearly. My daughter was a pretty easy baby and I had no trouble with the birth or breast feeding so I had a wonderful experience. I did have the normal baby blues and I was an emotional mess but not about her. They left as quickly as they came 10 days after her arrival. I know that it's not wonderful or easy for everyone, I've seen that first hand, in fact I don't think my experience is typical but I truly wish it was. Her first year was the best of my life, I never looked or felt better, I was totally in tune with who I am. It was awesome. She's awesome.

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    1. naomi, that is so wonderful! I'm so happy for you reading this. I wish it were the typical experience for more people too. x

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  9. I have to admit that although I loved my daughter as soon as she was born, i didn't actually feel connected to her for probably a month or two. I remember sometimes looking at her and thinking "oh that's right, I have a child" and not feeling much emotion either way. In saying that though, for the first 5 days after she was born, I didn't do much other than just look at her as she was just the cutest little thing ever. But it did take me a while to feel the love that I do for her now. I hate admitting that, but I think it's good being able to admit our feelings (or lack there-of) sometimes. And now - there's nothing and no one that I love more than my cheeky, loud, bossy, funny, naughty little girl :-) x

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    1. after the lady was born I kept feeling surprised that I had her too! the boys took up so much time and attention and she was so unobtrusive in comparison that I'd forget for a second that I had her, and then I'd remember. it was really nice actually :)

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  10. Little Hawk is 7 weeks old and I'm still getting to know him, on day 4 hubby asked me if I love both my kids equally and I thought... not yet. I knew I would though. Every now and then I look into his eyes and think, "who are you?"

    I don't remember feeling like that first time around, maybe because this time I understand that he is going to turn into a totally independent person where-as I think I saw the lady as an extension of me. It's awesome seeing him change every day though. And It's funny how I seem to be having such a different parenting experience.

    I'm really into being open about all the emotions because sleep deprivation and hormones play havoc with sanity and new mums do not need to think there is something wrong with feeling less than deeply in love with their brand new person! Sometimes these things take time and that's ok. xox

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    1. well said babs! and I think that even though we know intellectually that our kids and our relationship with each of them will be different it still feels odd when it happens.

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