This is a post I’d wanted to write for a long time; it is one of the main reasons I began my blog. But, no matter how many times I sat down to write it, I couldn’t find the right words. I drafted and redrafted it countless times; but I think the real reason I struggled to find the right words was because it was all still too raw.
When I was pregnant, I had this view of what being a mum would be like, it resembled the view you would see if you wore rose tinted glasses. If I’m honest, much of this warped view was shaped from what I’d been told parenting would be like from other people. What it would be like to hold your baby for the first time; the smiles; giggles; adventures etc. But rarely would anyone discuss what I like to call the honest side of parenting. There were things I experienced when I became a new mum that people didn’t discuss; meaning when I experienced these, I felt alone, ashamed and like a bad mum. If this post helps at least one person, then laying it all out is absolutely worth it.
I initially intended this to be one post, but it quickly became too long. I’ve decided to do this as a series of posts every Tuesday for the next several weeks. I met with a good friend of mine, Cam, and over breakfast when discussing this series of posts; we named this series as Transparent Tuesday.
This is the first thing I wish I had known before becoming a parent;
You don’t always bond with your baby… I felt nothing.
This is the hardest thing for me to put out there; I still feel dreadful admitting it. After all, I love children; I’ve always worked with them. I’m a teacher for goodness sake! I always pictured having a house filled with children. I initially wanted five, but after meeting Greg, I settled with the idea of three! (We’ve stopped at two for other reasons). I was beyond excited to be finally having my own child; I pictured the moment she would be passed to me; she’d be glowing, I’d be balling, there would be some cherubs with harps singing and a dove or two flying around the room! OK, not quite what I pictured, but I thought it would be a magical moment where I would feel the incredible and overpowering rush of love everybody talks about. We had a complicated and long birth that resulted in an emergency C-section – I then quickly became unwell and spent some time on HDU. I had briefly seen our daughter as she was passed to Greg, but I didn’t really see her again for another 24 hours.
She was handed to me, and I felt nothing. She was an adorable baby for sure, but that is all I felt. I felt like the WORST mum in the world. I felt deeply ashamed. How could a mother not feel anything for her baby? Would I ever feel anything? Was there something wrong with me? Was she safe with me? As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time crying in secret. After a few days, I came to realise that I was going to end up consumed by this shame, so I did something I would never normally do; I opened up to someone about how I was feeling. I spoke to our postnatal midwife; she was an angel sent from Heaven; she really did beam when she walked through the door, and I’m pretty sure a few doves did follow her around! Much to my surprise, she informed me that she had felt the same way for two out of her three children.
As soon as she told me this, the shame melted away. I felt like a weight had been truly lifted off my shoulders knowing I was no longer alone. Over the coming weeks, she visited us regularly with a few extra visits; I looked forward to our catch ups over a hot drink. Every time she left, I felt more and more at ease. She mapped out how she predicted I would feel over the next few visits; she was spot on every time.
When our youngest was born, I fully expected the same. I had hoped it might be different; there would be some cherubs and doves hiding in the cupboard ready to burst into theatre the moment she was born… they didn’t! I felt exactly the same; but this time I’d fully expected it, so I smiled rather than cried, knowing it would all change over the next few weeks.
Today I couldn’t love my children more if I tried. I burst with pride every time I talk about them; of course, they drive me utterly nuts almost daily, but I wouldn’t change a hair on their heads.
If you’re a new parent, or have recently had another little one and you’ve been feeling this way too (this can also happen to men), take comfort in knowing you’re not alone and you’re not a bad person. Don’t keep it bottled up, you don’t want it to consume you. You’ll find there are lots of others who experienced this too. You’ve been through the event of birth (however it happened) and your world has just been turned upside down; it is a lot to take in, even if you felt completely prepared beforehand. If you didn’t bond straight away, know that it will come with time. Be kind and patient with yourself. If you feel that the bond isn’t growing, or your mood is low and not lifting; make sure you speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.
I sincerely hope this provides comfort for somebody else out there; please share this far and wide to help prevent anyone else feeling alone as I did.
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