Did you also imagine that magical moment when you’d hold your baby for the very first time in your arms, cuddle him or her and feel that rush of love and feel all glowly and fullfilled at that very moment? Yes? Ok, Then have some of you had that moment when you delivered your bundle of joy, had him/her plonked in your arms, looked at that tiny face and not felt much? Did that confuse you? Did you feel guilty for not feeling anything? Well worry not and guess what…It’s normal!!
As you can guess from the above para, this post is about not feeling guilty for not feeling all maternal the moment you first lay eyes on that li’l cookie of yours whom you so looked forward to sine 9months. I remember A warning me about it and me thinking Naa…that can’t be possible..I’ll surely fall in love at first sight. I didn’t…
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate my kid or anything..But I felt kinda blank..I didn’t have a horrifying pregnancy or delivery but yet, when the Doc delivered her and showed her to me and said, ‘See your baby girl..’ I was at a loss…Instead of feeling like, ‘OMG! What a gorgeous angel I’ve brought forth!’, my first thoughts if I remember were, ‘Ain! Really? Ok, now pls stitch me up quick before I bleed out..I’ll do the cooing bit later..’ Then later when i saw her, i still felt nothing except for, “what a cute baby!” and in the coming hours, “Why the hell am I not lactating!?!” But nope..no maddening rushes of love..
The 1st time I felt anything more substantial was ont he 3rd day when I was supposed to be discharged but was detained since Pravi’s jaundice levels were a bit high and had to be taken to NICU for 24hrs. God! The amount I wailed!! Out of the blue, I had a double whammy of mommy feelings flooding in and I couldn’t see her go. I even kept a used napkin of hers under my pillow and in my pocket all the while so I could smell her on it in her absence(pls say that ain’t weird). Then every single time I went to the NICU, I saw her and would be overcome with tears and melodramatic thoughts of, “Oh my baby is so brave, xyz..”.
When I returned home, again those feelings seemed to have receeded and I seemed to be a trance state for almost a month before I felt ‘Mommy-ish’ again…Since then I’ve become the Mad-Momma for sure but that’s not the point of this post..The point I want to make here is that IT IS OKAY NOT TO FEEL OVERWHELMINGLY MATERNAL AT THE BEGINNING.
The reason behind this post again is the fact that this topic seems to be taboo amongst most people. While I was feeling guilty for not feeling maternal, I asked some new moms about this lack of feeling and they all vehemently denied it. I then poked and prodded at some experienced mommies and out came the truth..Many of them felt the same way I did! Hallelujah! I wasn’t a weirdo after all!
I honestly feel such things shouldn’t be kept under wraps. it is NORMAL. There are a ton of reasons why one may not feel instant love for ones baby:
- Stress. This could be due stressful situations at home. Or even the sheer worry of how you’re going to handle things to come can be terrifying to think about. Its funny how the entire 9mts seem to be full of pampering, mood swings, etc, but a few hours before you’re going to pop, the enormity of the situation hits and all you can think of is, ‘Oh Shit! I’m gona have a poor, defenseless baby..Me!! ME!!! How the heck am I gona do this?”
My thoughts on this now: After 6mts I finally realise that no matter how much shopping you do, how many books you read, how many friends you talk to or how many nieces and nephews you’ve taken care of in the past , there’s nothing that can prepare you for the time when you have to handle your own baby. So just let go and take things as they come. Believe me after a few hiccups you’ll learn the ropes and be an expert..
- Disappointment. This could be disappointment with the sex of the baby or even the type of delivery. I’ve had friends terrified after delivering a baby girl simply cause their in-laws wanted a boy..or many women suffer the truma of a long, hellish delivery which was unexpected. Or it could even be a case of expecting and wanting a normal delivery and having a C-Sec in the end..The possibilities are endless..
My thoughts on this now: Ok, there’s nothing one can do about ensuring the sex of ones baby so if it was a self expectation then the only thing to do is let go; and if it’s the extended family creating fear in your mind, well then I have just 1 word for you..IGNORE! We’ll all have tons of people passing judgement on everything we do at every stage of life and if we start worrying about each and everyone of them we’d be a very sad bunch of people right? Wrt the type of delivery, my best advice would be not to pin your heart on a particular type of delivery. In this day and age when conceiving a child is becoming such a concern, its moot as to the type of delivery we have. The fact that we can have our baby is a blessing in itself. So don’t let such thoughts fester.
- Exhaustion. Popping your baby is truly very exhausting. Make no mistake, a womans body goes thru a real trauma during delivery. Plus it seems like all the aches and pains which we suffered through in silence in those 9mts finally catch up with us and one just feels like a puddle of nothing..
My thoughts on this now: No arguments about this one gals..This exhaustion fades only with proper rest and time. My only advice here is to rest and not to think of yourself as superwoman. If you have help, then take it. Abroad it’s hard and impossible to have help unless parents come down but in India we’re lucky enough to have family help along with domestic help. So instead of trying to do everything alone, accept help..It helps in faster recovery of both, body and mind..
- Depression over your body. Nowadays most of us obsess over our weight right at the beginning. Even then the weight gain is inevitable and there are those who find it tough to take this in their stride. To add to this, some are given the impression by their friends and family that the moment you pop you’ll look just like before. So it comes as a shock when in most cases this doesn’t happen and the thought of getting back into shape is enough to cloud any other thoughts as well!
My thoughts on this now: Well, I have just one thing to say here which A had told me a few months after her delivery last year which stuck to my mind.. It took 9months for your body to get this way..It’s natural that it take a minimum of this same time to get back into shape. So don’t fret..instead, start exercising when you can and eat healthy..Visit a dietician if required..Rest assured you need to take efforts to get back into shape. So it ok..wallow in self-pity for a while and then snap out of it and start doing something about it!
These are just my thoughts and everyone’s does differ…My intention here is to just warn expectant Moms that this is a common occurance and not worthy of feeling guilty. There are several reasons which will feel insurmountable in the beginning but as time passes will iron themselves out..Just give yourself time and feel reassured that you’re a good Mom, ad doing your best. Those maternal feelings you feel are eluding you will surely wham into you in good time.