Was it instant love?
I wish that all parents fell instantly in love with their babies at birth. I wish this because they would skip out on the guilt and obsessing over when this magical moment is going to happen.
I was talking to one of the moms who did a birth story session with me, and she asked if it was normal that she didn’t feel this instant, overflowing love for her baby that everyone talks about. She felt love for her baby, but it was not what she expected. She cared deeply for the baby’s safety and doing the best she could for him, but there wasn’t “THE magical moment.” Baby was only 11 days old. I loved the conversation we had because we got to expose the motherhood myth of instant bonding- this does not happen with every birth, and that is OKAY. In fact, I would say this is normal and that falling in love with your baby takes time and can take work!
I shared my story with her; I thought she needed to know I went through the same thing. I shared that I had experienced postpartum depression and that I too wondered when and if I would fall in love with my baby. I worried about it, I felt guilt, I wondered if my baby knew, I felt crazy, but mostly I was just sad that I was missing out on this time.
I shared with this mom the words that kept me going. In a very vulnerable moment I asked my father (he is ‘technically’ my stepfather who came into my life later) “Will I ever love my baby?” he said to me: “I didn’t even know you at four months and I cannot imagine loving you anymore than I do now.” At the time I cried and felt sad, but I did know he was right and I would fall in love with my baby. There would be a point where I couldn’t imagine loving him any more. It happened and it’s magical.
The Neufeld institute has online courses and a great book (Hold on to your kids) for parents.