That’s me and my daughter two days after she was born. The picture is fuzzy to illustrate how I don’t remember much of the first couple years of her life. I have tons of pictures, but when I look at them I do not remember a lot of those moments, if anything. That is such a hard thing to live with, not remembering your daughter’s beginning the way you expected to. I do not even have pictures from the day she was born (we forgot the camera at home,) but it’s a bit on par with how I felt that day.
May 28, 2007 is the day my water broke. I was asleep and was woken up by a gush of water. Naturally at 38 weeks, you wonder if it’s your water breaking or you losing bladder control. Once I moved and realized in was indeed my water, I poked my husband to get him up so we could be on our way to the hospital. I was so nervous and scared I was shaking. We eventually made it to the hospital, which was a pretty quick car ride since it was the middle of the night. We check in, get a room, and the ball is rolling. I get an epidural a few hours later, begin pushing a couple after that, and then she was here.
I didn’t get to hold her immediately after she was born. The cord had wrapped around her neck, so they took her away to make sure she was breathing and OK. I didn’t really notice anyway. Maybe it was from being so exhausted, but I didn’t mind so much that I didn’t have that typical mommy/baby moment right after birth. After she was cleaned up, weighed and measured, and given a clean bill of health, they had placed her in one of those beds and pulled her next to me. They had to go get equipment to monitor her lungs, so we had a moment just the three of us. As sad as I feel about it now, I felt indifferent. There she was, my beautiful daughter all comfy and squishy wrapped in her blanket, and I did not want to hold her. I looked at her, smiled, touched her feet and hands, but that was it. She did not feel like mine, I didn’t have the feelings of instant love and maternal-ness that most women gush about. I felt indifferent. I do not think all of those emotions and feelings hit me until a few weeks later. I remember thinking at the time that it must be completely normal, that this is what motherhood feels like.
We were in the hospital for a couple of nights, and I was dealing with a flood of emotions during that time. I am sure most of it was hormonal, since I had just had a baby and my hormones were readjusting. The lactation consultant didn’t help matters with her inability to understand that not all women can breastfeed. I had a breast reduction a few years before, and it was such an extensive surgery because of my size that it rendered my breasts useless for babies. I knew that going into it, but thought I would try anyway just to see if there was a small possibility that I could. By the time we left the hospital, I had forbidden the lady from coming into my room or anywhere near me.
During the couple of days we were there at the hospital, I do not remember holding her very much. I fed her when she needed to be fed. I changed her when she needed to be changed. I cuddled with her skin to skin in a vain attempt on my part to feel some kind of connection. I just didn’t feel it. I wanted to feel like her mommy, I wanted to feel that love, but I couldn’t find it. She was adorable and a great baby, but I didn’t feel that mommy connection. I also started to feel resentment. Not towards her, that would come later. I was starting to feel it towards my husband.
Michael was awesome the entire time we were there. He never left my side unless he had to use the facilities. He held my hand, talked to me, made sure I was comfortable, found my favorite movie on the TV, etc. I could see the instant love he had with Samantha. That was the point in which the resentment started to surface. He would hold her, and there was aura around them of love and content. Why didn’t I feel that? Where was my aura? He would take a nap or something when I was awake, and I was left “alone” with her. How dare he not be awake to help me, or take care of her! I never said anything to him though. I didn’t feel shameful of it, because at that time I didn’t know any better. The whole situation was all new to me, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to be feeling. I do not think I really got a grasp of how messed up my feelings were for a long time, well over a year.
The day my daughter was born was far from the amazing, beautiful, and loving experience I had expected (look, there is that word again). How can one feel so indifferent on the day that the become a mommy or daddy? How did I not know then that something was wrong with me, and was the beginning of some extremely hard times? She was my daughter, after all. Why didn’t I love her instantly? I have read that it’s common for people to not feel that instant love, but that it may take a few hours or days. It took me much longer to feel that love, even a little bit. I didn’t hate or dislike her, I just didn’t feel like I was really her mom. I felt more like a babysitter, to be honest. It’s very strange to think about it that way now.
I do not feel that way anymore. I have grown to love her very much, especially with being able to realize that my head was upside down and working on bettering it. Now she may drive me insane sometimes, and bed time can’t come soon enough, but that mommy feeling is there. I feel that connection. Seeking treatment helped me, even if it was years later and only Prozac. The Prozac was enough to clear my mind slightly and shed some light on my situation. If I could go back and start over, I would. I would make that special day feel special, and not just an ordinary day. I can’t though, and I have learned to accept that, sort of. Acceptance is key, otherwise the regret and shame will eat away at you. Don’t let those feelings turn you into a zombie.