Everyone always asks a new mom, “how did it feel when you brought your little one to the world?”, and everyone always expects magical answers and fairytales about how she instantly fell in love with her beautiful little bundle of joy and how in a split of a second she knew her life had changed but surely it had changed to the better so she could not have been happier.
Even though this might be true for some women, (as I don’t want to be the one to tell the world Santa does not exist), it was far far from being the case for me. And I say this boldly, loudly and clearly because I wouldn’t want any other mother in the world to go through the same thing I did at the time.
First things first, let us be clear, even though I deeply believe that every child in the world is God sent, a true miracle, and a blessing, my baby did not just fall from the sky. She was the result of deep reflection and planning. My husband and I had decided 4 years after getting married that we were finally ready to bring a baby to the world. We had waited until we both felt stable and comfortable in our new life, until I finished my studies and had a minimal but respectable work experience and until my husband’s business trips became almost non-existing. Despite all that, despite thinking that we were both physically, psychologically and mentally ready, pregnancy and childbirth were two overwhelming experiences. They were more intense, emotional and challenging than I ever thought they could be.
I always believed that women get pregnant for 9 months, not more, not less (for most), not only for biological reasons but also for a magical spiritual reason. As if a woman’s body and mind need those 9 months to grasp the idea of this colossal change and embrace it by the time it becomes real. I was personally surprised by the multiple mental stages I went through when I found out I was pregnant myself. I could almost summarize them into 8 main stages as follows:
1- ecstasy and pure joy: 1st positive pregnancy test at 5 o’clock in the morning!
2- stress and fear: that’s it! There’s no going back! It’s never gonna be just the 2 of us (my hubby and I) ever again!
3- delusion and surreality: no baby bump, no baby movement, end of morning nausea, it must of been an illusion! There’s no baby on board!
4- reality strike: 2nd echo, baby taking human shape, 1st real kicks… “It’s” here! “It’s” alive!!
5- ecstasy re-emerges: no way to deny it no more! Baby bump taking shape, baby getting energetic, happy to know “it’s” healthy.
6- looking forward: not hiding her tiny parts anymore! It’s a girl, can’t wait till she arrives!
7- impatience: i just want her to finally get here!
8- peekaboo! Baby here 3 weeks earlier than expected.
Peekaboo, ha? Wish it was that simple! After my water broke at 8 in morning (something I naturally denied and didn’t want to go to the hospital because of course it’s a meaningless leak!), I was admitted to the hospital. I waited 11 hours for labor to start and another 13 for baby to finally come out… So what did I feel on that exact moment at 10:29 am of the 2nd of march 2016?
The truth is that reality struck me again, but this time it struck hard as I realized that my life has just changed forever, and no, there were no guarantees at that moment that it had changed for the better! As they covered my little one with a clean towel and put her on my chest, all I could think to myself was, “What if she doesn’t stop crying? Would that mean that I am already a bad mother?” I was so utterly terrified from what was ahead, that I missed to enjoy one of the most important, most exceptional moments of my life! And why was that? Because of expectations, both positive and negative! Because of all the fairytales that I failed to live up to, but also all the warnings that were paving the road ahead of us: “you will never sleep again”, “breastfeeding hurts”, “you might not have enough milk”, “you will never have a moment to yourself again”…
How did it feel when I brought my little one to the world? It was scary, so scary that I was too afraid to sleep that night… So scary that I didn’t dare confide her to the nurses the first night because I was too worried they would say I was a bad mother… So scary that I couldn’t let her out of my arms or let anyone other than her dad hug her without feeling bad that maybe someone else is loving her more or better… No, I did not feel an overwhelming love from the moment I held her in my arms, because I was too busy being afraid, which only made me feel even more afraid until I fell into this vicious circle I could no longer break and that almost broke me down…
But guess what? Today I realize norms do not exist! The only normal thing to feel is what we feel naturally… Five months down the road, I couldn’t be more in love with my little one. I learnt to ignore the bad vibes and create a little happy bubble for us both, and if I could go through it all again, I would just allow myself to be happy with my natural reactions to this unique life-changing event… I wouldn’t let anyone bully me into guilt land, where it’s dark and cold and hugs free… And neither should you…