Friday, November 27, 2009

Love is a funny thing

I have an admission that fills me with guilt and shame as a mother: When my daughter was born, I didn't fall instantly in love.

All through my pregnancy, people told me "you wonder how you'll ever love another child as much as your first but the moment they're born - you will!" So when Felicity was born, after weeks on bed rest, a stalled all-natural labour and then an emergency c-section, I was sure that when I laid eyes on her, I'd adore her the same way I do Hayden. But I didn't.

I loved her. She's my child and was very much wanted, of course I loved her. But I didn't feel IN LOVE with her the way I do with Hayden. And that fact ate me up inside. It made me feel like a completely unfit mother. How could I not love her as much as my first born? What kind of monster was I? I racked my brain for the reason behind it; Was it the difficult pregnancy? The complete change from my natural birth plan? Because she was a girl? Because of her near-death experience in her first week? Had I nearly lost her so many times that I'd closed off my heart a little? None of these reasons seemed to suffice for such an awful truth.

As the weeks passed, I tortured myself with this unspoken failure as a mother. Eventually, in a sobbing mess, I admitted it to my husband. The sweet man he is, he consoled me and revealed that he had felt the same thing when Hayden was born. He mused that it was probably more common than I thought and as time went on, I would develop that love (just as he obviously has for Hayden). I nodded and sniffled and in my head just kept repeating Monster! Monster! Horrible Mother! Boo! you don't deserve this awesome baby!

Then one day, about three weeks ago, she smiled at me. She heard my voice, turned her head and smiled. And somewhere in my heart, a dam burst and the love just flooded over me. This was my baby girl. My daughter. My little clone who not only looked like me, but also had my mellow personality. She was mine and I adored her. The relief was so great that I actually cried. I wasn't a failure after all, just a slow learner.

Looking back, I can see that I set myself up for a tough start. I expected to love her for who she was without having known her. My love for Hayden has grown and changed over the years and I now love him for the little person he is. I somehow thought I would inherit this deeper love for Felicity from birth, which I now know is impossible. Children imprint themselves on your heart in a million different ways. Their first smile, first laugh, their amazement of tree canopies and snow flakes, their inquisitiveness and unguarded affection...all the frivolity and tenderness of childhood create layers of love in your heart.

As Felicity and I spend more time together, she continues to build on the love I have for her. I'm now looking forward to learning just who she is and who she will be. I'm eager to build our relationship and make our love even stronger. I know that I love her just as I love Hayden.

I look back now, at two months, and wonder what I ever worried about!

1 comment:

Suzanne's Chilean Sabbatical said...

Jeez... your post just made my eyes water. This is exactly how I felt, when I had my first child. Why wasn't I absolutely in love with this tiny being -- that I had MADE? Like you with Felicity, though, it only took a few weeks for that love to come flooding in... and it just keeps coming, even now when he's 12 and his sister 10. So, there was no need to worry....