Friday, January 6, 2012

Falling in Love with Ada

I wrote in my birth story that when I had finally pushed Ada out into the world, I didn't immediately gush over her. I didn't feel that super-charged, all-encompassing love that so many mothers weep over on those early morning baby shows. The kind of love that so many mothers I know in real life have told me about. Instead, I felt spent and guilty that I didn't somehow feel more. You know. In love. With my baby.

That's what's natural, right? I carried and nurtured her for nine months. And just look at that face!

In these first seven weeks, I've felt much the same. There have been many good times and quite a few bad. Especially recently. There have been days where I've gone to bed thinking I'm a horrible mother. Why exactly? Well: I've actually been angry with my baby. And I'd think: "Why on EARTH would I ever have a reason to be ANGRY with my baby?"

It'd take no time at all to think of why. I'd list off things like . . .

When she's screaming her head off and no amount of swaddling, side-laying, shushing, sucking, or swaying will calm her.
When she's feeding -- AGAIN -- for the fifth time in five hours. My butt glued to the couch.
When she's spitting up -- AGAIN -- for the fifth time in five hours. (Usually on my chest.)
When I've been too busy/occupied with her to leave the house in three days.
When my mental and physical energy is so zapped that I can't imagine ever going for a run again.
When I realize I haven't taken a shower in several days despite aforementioned spit-up episodes.
When an hour drive to visit our best friends results in turning around not long after arriving there because of a mega-crank episode. On New Year's Eve!
Did I mention the day-after-day afternoon-to-nightly cluster-feeding?!

Of course, none a one of these things are Ada's fault. I know that in my rational mind. Still, I debated posting about this topic since it doesn't exactly seem socially acceptable to feel the way I do sometimes. I know I'm not alone, though. Until recently, I didn't know when that moment was going to happen for me. I was scared it might not happen ever. The head-over-heels falling-in-love-with-my-baby moment. So many mothers I know are already there. Or have been there since minute one. In that sweet spot.

To me, it was truly elusive. I was growing more desperate to find it by the day. And there would be times when I thought it had happened. But then I'd get dragged down again. Mostly by my own frustration with not feeling how I thought I should feel.

Ada is nearly two months old, and I didn't feel this powerful love until today. What happened? She finally smiled at me. She's been half-smirking in her sleep since birth. But today she finally looked up at me with her eyes bright and wide . . . and smiled.

It was like this smile. Only much better because it was the first.

What I've learned is that falling in love with Ada was -- and continues to be -- a process. A getting-to-know her. I've always loved her, but that strong bond, that affection that now courses through my veins didn't come until I finally felt like I actually am starting to know her.

She's getting to know me, too. I can see it in her eyes. In the way she follows me as I enter/leave a room.

Anyway, I wanted to write this post for the new moms out there who might feel similarly. Or for women pregnant for the first time. Each individual woman's motherhood experience is different -- that's for sure. Universal, I imagine, is the guilt that seems built in to pretty much everything.

It's getting better every day, though.

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Donna May 14, 2012 at 6:44 PM  

I just stumbled on your blog (love reading women's birth stories...especially you amazing beauties who do it natural!!) and I just have to say THANK YOU for this post! My daughter is 10 weeks old and I still struggle with trying to "get" that overwhelming love. Your "we're both getting to know each other" hit the nail on the head. It's SO true!!! And I've found that SOo many women go through it...but we all have guilt, so few admit it'. I appreciate your courage and honesty!!!
-Donna, nj

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