Sunday, January 30, 2011

Motherhood so far...

Motherhood so far has been beyond anything I expected. I'm more tired than I expected to be, but functioning better than I expected. My husband is more supportive than I ever could have dreamed. He rocks her and gets up every time I feed her. He takes care of me and lets me sleep or nap even when he's just as exhausted. He loves our little girl something fierce and it melts my heart to watch them together!

Audrey is a great baby for the most part. She nurses every 3-4 hours at night and every 2-3 hours during the day. She hates having her diaper changed, which I think has a lot to do with the diaper rash we just can't get to go away. We're cloth diapering, changing her often and have tried A&D and Desitin. It doesn't seem to be getting any worse, but it's not getting any better either.

But today, what's most on my mind is the myth that you're instantly in love with your baby the second he or she is born. Let me preface this with the statement that I am not depressed - I have actually never been more content and at home with my role in this life. But I think it's an important issue to address because as new moms we have too many unrealistic expectations that we hold ourselves to. We are all different. Our babies are all different. Other moms should tell us this. We should encourage and support each other, not put on a happy, ideal facade.

For me, with my previous losses, I don't think I allowed myself to fully bond with Audrey while I was pregnant with her. Though the farther along I got, the more I relaxed I became, it was always in the back of my mind that I might lose her too. I think this is a factor in how I felt when she was born, but not the entire reason.

The moment Audrey was born and they put her on my stomach, I was relieved that she was here, that she was safe. Relief was the predominant emotion I felt, not love. I loved her, of course, but I wasn't in love with her. The love I did feel wasn't that overwhelming love that you hear parents talk about, that love I feel for her now. It was a surreal moment. For me, it was almost as if it didn't feel like she was mine (despite the 3 hours of pushing I had just endured!)

But you see, it's like any other relationship. You don't know this child yet and your child doesn't know you. It takes time to develop that relationship, to get to know one another, to bond. You wouldn't expect to instantly develop a friendship or fall in love with a stranger, and you shouldn't place that unrealistic expectation on yourself regarding your child.

The bond will form though. You will fall in love once it all sinks in. For me, it happened late at night while she was nursing. She looked up at me, wide awake and at that moment, looking into her eyes, I couldn't imagine loving anyone more. She was ours. She was the product of the love my husband and I share. I had the ability to nourish her. All the toys and "things" we were given for her weren't necessary. All she really needs is the milk I am able to provide for her and our love.

And that bond continues to grow and develop. She recognizes our voices. Looks for us when she hears us. Stops crying when one of us holds her and comforts her. She knows we will protect her and love her. And despite how surreal it all seems, she is ours. We are watching our new family develop. We are feeling our love for her grow. Feeling our love for each other grow and change.

For me, she was nursing when I really felt our connection. For you? You may be singing to him, or rocking her, or watching your significant other with him. Like everything else in this life, everyone's experience is different. There is no set time line. For you it may be a minute or an hour, for someone else it may be a week or a month.

Don't hold yourself to this unrealistic expectation that the feeling is instantaneous. It is the one thing I am grateful I was told before she was born. I can only imagine the guilt I might have felt or the depression that might have followed if I thought I didn't love my daughter enough, quickly enough.


Sonya said...

you are right, the love we feel for our children is different for every woman. When Lauren was born I had that instant love for her but for months I walked around not believing that I had a child!! When Colton was born it was so much different. He fit so perfectly into our family as he had always been there.

I have a recipe for something to help her diaper rash go away. It has tea tree oil in it. Also, let her air dry as much as you possibly can...even if that means hanging out without a diaper on for a while. Lauren had the nastiest rash and I put the mixture on her every diaper change and let her air dry and it went away within a day or so. I will find the recipe and send it to you.

Sonya said...

ok here is the exact recipe that I used for Lauren. I put it in a spray bottle and used it but when her rash was first really bad I would mix it up and apply it with a wash cloth...let her air dry and repeat several times throughout the day.

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 drops tea tree oil

I got my tea tree oil at Target.