Mummy Love: It’s Complicated

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When I was pregnant for the first time I wasn’t sure of much. I was completely confused at what childbirth would be like, I didn’t know if I would breast or bottle feed, or even if I wanted to be a stay at home mum or not. But there was thing I was sure of: the love I would feel for them in that hospital room.

I knew as soon as that baby was placed on my chest (or, as I had C sections, near my face) I would feel that immense, all-consuming rush of happiness and god-I-would-die-for-this-person. I know this because I’d read about it in magazines, seen it on the tv and heard about it each time my mum described my own birth.

So imagine my shock and surprise when it didn’t happen for me.

My pregnancy with Elfie was fairly straightforward. A few hiccups here and there but mostly happy and peaceful. That doesn’t mean it was easy though; I never relaxed having seen too many friends go through hearbreaking experiences with their pregnancies. I knew that falling in love with the person in my belly and then losing her would crush me so I was a bit scared to.

As I remember, Elfie’s birth, a c section, went like this. Bridge over troubled water on the radio, husband in scrubs. I could see the reflection of the operation in his glasses (GROSS!). A wriggly purple thing was pulled from me and thrust to my face. My first thought was: “that could NOT have come from me”. My second, “what’s all that gross white stuff?”. I think I then thought something along the lines of “erm, what do I do with this then?”.

We were moved back to our room, did the breastfeeding thing. She got pinker and angrier as newborns do and then slept a lot. I was still in total shock that I was going to have to look after this teeny tiny being, and in awe of her small fingers and toes. I think that’s a good word to describe my feelings in those early days: awe, and a little bit of shock too.

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Elfie came home and the worry set in where the mummy love should have been. She became very ill, and I again became scared of losing someone who could be so in control of my heart. Though I know I did everything I could have done at that time to get her seen and it was really a string of failings between our GP and Health Visitor that did not pick up her illness quicker I still feel horribly guilty.

This isn’t to say I didn’t love her then, not at all. She is my child and I have always loved her. But I did miss that feeling of loving so much you feel like you might vomit up your own heart.

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But then – surprise! It came right before I got pregnant again, the mummy love arrived just after her first birthday. I can’t remember what we were doing but my heart suddenly felt like it grew 100%. There it was. A year late, but it had arrived. That rush of love didn’t happen when she was a wrinkly angry baby, but as she became a toddler. It felt as good as everyone said.

It has never left and now I love her even more than that day. I don’t know how to describe what she is to me: my best friend, my confidante, my cuddly little champion. She says these things to me in her little voice (“I love you mummy, you best friend”) and I swear it makes me swoon and my heart thump out of my chest. It’s beautiful and so difficult to describe. When you have that love for your kid, you know. It’s like nothing else on earth.

Hux was a similar story. I spent the whole pregnancy so worried about having two children and splitting this new love that I’d recently found for Elfie and when he arrived that rush of love didn’t come. Instead I thought “oh good, he’s not as gunky as Elfie”. And then “what on earth do I do with this teeny tiny willy when it pees on me?!” (FYI I still don’t know).

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But again the mummy love arrived, a bit sooner this time, when he was about three days old. And now? Well, he’s my boy. I think it’s clear to anyone how much I love him. Sometimes so much that I worry I will put him on the BBQ and gobble him up with a side of coleslaw, he’s that delicious (not really. Maybe). He’s simply amazing and I can’t imagine ever meeting a man better than him (he is the best bits of my Dad and Will, after all).

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Does this make me a bad mum? I don’t think so. I just think it took my emotions a while to get over a few hurdles and catch up with my head. One thing I do know is that I would die for my children. And the fact that sometimes doesn’t happen immediately ain’t something they teach you in your NCT classes. It’s nothing you need to worry about either.  If, like me, you didn’t feel it straight away: hang in there. You too will soon want to vomit up your heart.

My friend Katie had a bit of a different experience to me: go and read her lovely account of when her girls were born.

24 thoughts on “Mummy Love: It’s Complicated

  1. I always roll my eyes a bit when women say that they felt some amazing love feeling right after giving birth. If they are not lying, then that’s great :) but as for me – as soon as I’d pushed those babies out I was just relieved that it was over but all I could feel was the pain down there and exhaustion. It took me weeks if not months to feel the love. And I’m also ok with that :)

  2. Oh my god, I had to cry while reading your post! And I keep thinking it: Elfie is the most beautiful child I ever saw! Her eyes are real magic!

  3. Having a baby is an absolute mindfuck, I remember when aiden was flung on my chest I wa thinking “who’s that, can’t be mine” – didnt realise he was out! Xo

  4. The ‘instant mummy love’ is such a cliche the media purveys – a bit like the way all labours on TV start with the woman’s waters breaking in somewhere inappropriate, she screams like blue murder, gets told to ‘puuuuuush’ lead on her back and then the baby magically appears a few minutes later.

    So, anyway…. it took several weeks for my first born for me to feel the love I feel for him now. Indeed, now I feel like he’s always been a part of me. With the second (now only a diddy 5 weeks old), when I first saw her, I thought “gosh, she’s not that beautiful!” (newborns are another species I think!) and now of course, I think she’s the most beautiful thing in the world and love her dearly – but that love is still growing and sorting itself out….

  5. This is a fantastic post Alice and thanks for mentioning me. I have many friends who have described the exact same thing as you. One of my best friends admitted not so long ago that she didn’t really have any feelings for her daughter until she was about 3 months old, of course she loved her but it wasn’t that ‘consuming love’ that people had told her about. I most certainly did feel that rush of love this time round, it was really overwhelming, with Mads it was different because I was terrified at this random little person put on my chest but I did love her instantly. Such a surreal moment. However it definitely grows and develops with time. I can’t remember when it was with Mads but I do remember when she started interacting more that I just fell in love with her even more and now she is a toddler it develops more each day. Toddlers Rock.
    With LL I felt a lot more in control, knew what I was doing and I just couldn’t believe the way I felt for her when she was out. Relief she was here safe as I am a worrier, Love and Happiness that my family was complete all rolled into one. It definitely develops more as time goes by.
    I think this time the fact that we have decided to not have any more babies, has made the emotions even more intense for me. x

  6. I didn’t have that surge that other people talked about. I wonder if it is something to do with having a C-Section. I didn’t feel it for a long, long time and when I did I was already expecting Mini! Maxi was a challenging baby and it was only when we nearly lost him that I really felt the love that I had expected from day one. I really wish that media didn’t perpetuate the myths wound motherhood that they do. I had such high expectations, so it is no wonder that I got PND!

    Now though I would die for my children without question. I am a real lioness when it comes to the boys.

  7. I think that some people experience that instant rush of love, and some people don’t and it takes a while longer to happen. And both of these experiences are COMPLETELY NORMAL.

    I didn’t have it. My immediate feelings after Arlo’s birth were relief that it was over, and in the first months of his life I was just too overwhelmed by the changes to my life. I hate that it’s such a cliche that you should feel that massive rush of love, I felt really inadequate when all my friends (who don’t yet have children) would grill me on what its like to be a mother and did I feel overwhelmingly in love with him??, etc, etc. I didn’t know how to answer because I knew I wasn’t feeling how they all expected me to be feeling. Yet another win to mum-guilt.

    Of course, the love has grown and is most definitely there now though!

  8. As always I think society’s got a lot to answer for! I’m certain if we weren’t bombarded with a sense of how we ought to feel all the time we’d all accept our feelings as natural and normal for us and be okay with them. It makes me sad to think of all the mothers out there who might have a variety of feelings for their newborns and not realise they’re completely normal. More should be done about this so bravo for the post!

  9. It definately came to me after a culmination of moments and time. I felt utterly responsible for those tiny people placed in my arms, but the overwhelming love came with smiles, hugs, first words etc. I remember studying in Psychology how difficult it is to love newborn animals and humans alike had we not as a species evolved to make our offspring ‘cute’! think about it; puppies, kittens etc,…their vulnerable appearance instantly makes us feel protective of them and love grows in time: for some anyway. x

  10. So, so true.

    Sophie is 6 months old today and I looked through the photos and videos I have of her last night…in floods of tears. I just felt so guilty not to have been 100% confident in my love for her from day one but it takes time to fall in love, eh? Today I was singing Twinkle Twinkle to her in a swimming lesson, her floating on her back supported by my hands with massive green bogies up her nose and she smiled at me through the whole thing and I realised, I love you unconditionally. Just took me a while to get there too x

  11. Well done for such an honest post. It is a subject that I find a lot of mums don’t dare touch upon out of fear of people thinking they are ‘bad mums’ which is of course not true. It took 8 months before I fell head-over-heels in love with my first son due to PND straight after his birth. With number 2, I was lucky enough to get that instant love but I definitely don’t think this happens a lot of the time. Especially with first children, it is all so scary and overwhelming first time around and that gets in the way!

  12. Exactly the same here – was about a year in when suddenly I realised that I did love her very much and that I just couldn’t bear the thought of not having her close – up until then I had largely been going through the motions to be honest

  13. What a beautiful post. This actually made me shed a few tears as it was such a beautiful description of something I can only hope to experience one day.

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing moment with us.

  14. Well you made me sob like a sobby thing all through the dreamfeed!

    Thank you for this. When I had my baby I was so confused by my feelings; I had wanted a baby for so long and when he finally turned up I didn’t feel what I thought I should. I spent the first two weeks absolutely terrified of him – I didn’t understand him, I could never make him happy and I actually couldn’t believe he was mine. I can’t even properly explain that – it felt like he had just been thrust upon me, I guess. The next two weeks I felt a bit better and felt a bit more connected with the little beast, but it definitely took a lot longer before he felt truly mine.

    I think there is so much falseness when you have a baby – so much pressure to show that you are fine and besotted with your bub that it’s hard to admit these feelings. Thank you for writing about your experiences, you’ve helped me to address my own feelings.

  15. I’m not sure I know a single mum for whom it was instant! I did look at Ramona and tell her she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, and it was true and I meant it… but I was also saying it through a fog. Largely what I felt in the first few days (especially when feeding went horribly wrong) was scared. And tired. Mostly scared. And tired.

    It was actually the first time we got a night off, a few months in, that we both realised we COULD NOT STOP talking about her, during our supposed date night. (And we were living with family – it was much needed for everyone that we got the hell out for a few hours). And since then I can’t count the number of times my heart just seems to stop, or leap, looking at her. And the more her personality comes through the more I feel it because now she’s not “just” my child that I love because she’s mine – I also love Ramona for being Ramona.

    I’m pretty sure the instant thunderbolt is mostly nonsense. I’m prepared to believe it happens for some people, but for most I think the fog of fear and confusion has to lift first!

  16. Beautiful, beautiful post Alice. So sincere. I admit I had the same concerns about the whole rush of love thing as I’d read that if you have an epidural it blocks a lot of the hormones responsible, so you often don’t get quite the same feeling. Maybe I didn’t either, I was certainly in awe like you and just astounded that she was mine and was here. I think the massive rush came a few weeks later, once I’d got over the hideousness of stitch-recovery!

    I know you have ooooodles of followers so I’m technically breaking the award rules, but I have nominated you for the Liebster Award as I just think you are a superwoman, doing your amazing blog, MAMA UK and raising your two darlings. I have posted the details here – http://pencilsandprams.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-liebster-award.html. I would LOVE it if you could accept?!

    Lulu x
    PS Very excited about MAMA UK this week! Eeek!

  17. It didn’t come for me immediately either. I was just so tired, I remember passing Z to my husband minutes after they lifted him out.
    I loved him of course, but the BIG all consuming overwhelming rush of love came later.

  18. This post really struck a cord with me. I think that I was in shock for the first 3 months of Baby B’s life and I certainly did not feel that amazing rush of love that I had so looked forward to when a very beaten up and gross looking little baby was placed on my chest.
    Now 21 months old, that little man is everything to me. I think it was from about about 3 months that the overwhelming love kicked it – its only got stronger everyday since. Thanks for sharing your experience.x

  19. I think I felt the rush of love with my first one or was it the awe you describe. My second baby it took a lot longer. It is funny because most of you talk about how much quicker they felt it for the second one. Now that they are both considerably older I love them so much sometime it physically hurts. I certainly feel that my love for both of them is growing daily. They are my life and my passion. I agree with you and everyone else. They have to stop selling us the myth that this little person comes out of our body with pink floating hearts all around.

  20. Couldn’t agree more!! I am very lucky to have an amazing mum myself who.told me just that..the love isn’t instant the first though she had was holy crap i’ve got to look after you for the rest of ever (about me) so I knew not to worry especially when my first though and words about me new daughter were “she looks like a glo worm, remember them from the 80′s!?” cue funny looks.from.the the room.
    Im still waiting for it this time round, I love her but haven’t got the vomit love yet ;-)

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