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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.
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.
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).
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).
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.