There are many, many falsities surrounding childbirth and being a new parent but I’m not sure there are many as misunderstood as the “I’ve just had my baby and I’ve NEVER FELT LOVE LIKE IT” crap that seems to be the tag line to any new entry into the world.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m all for loving your baby (obvs) but it’s not always true to say that this love comes into being the instant that sticky, slimy, beautiful mess of a baby lands on your chest. As Sandra Bullock famously says in Speed, “…relationships that start under intense circumstances…never last.” Well, nothing is more intense than childbirth.
What does happen the minute you expel that small being from your nether regions is an overwhelming and undeniable need to protect. It’s an instinct bigger and much better than you and from the moment that baby is released into the world, you want to know that it is ok and you know you will do anything and everything to make sure that it is. But, do you love it? Not really.
Quite simply, there are a million other emotions fighting for space amongst your basic need to survive as a new parent and something as airy-fairy and fantastical as love really doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a look in. Plus, you’re too damn worried about this tiny, helpless little being and you’re way too busy feeling inadequate, exhausted, physically and emotionally annihilated, terrified etc., that love is way down on the list of priorities.
On day six, I had a conversation with my husband that went like this:
Husband: “Babe, I think there’s something wrong with me.”
Husband: “I don’t think I love her.”
Me: “Oh thank god. Neither do I.”
The relief I felt was overwhelming. We didn’t fully understand or comprehend the love that we would feel for the Tiny Terrorist at that point, because we genuinely didn’t even know our own name. We were so far away from possessing the emotional capacity to love this child as we adapted from being regular humans to parent humans that we weren’t even sure if we still loved each other.
They talk a lot about ‘bonding’ with your baby. What they should call it is ‘falling in love’ with your baby because like every other person you’ve loved, you fall in love with your baby. Just like every other person you’ve loved, you didn’t lay eyes on them and fall head over heels in love. You got to know them, you learnt their ways, their things, you started to understand the stuff in their head and then, then, you fell in love with them.
It’s the same with babies.
You may not love them from the first second, but you will die for them.