I have a friend who is going to be having her second baby soon. We got into a conversation yesterday about being a new parent, and the things people never seem to get around to telling you about.

One of the things that came up was the whole “love at first sight” thing. She shared with me that she had thought something was wrong with her at one point because she didn’t feel this instant, giddy, walking on air feeling the moment she first got to hold her daughter, and that the actuality of it was it took several months before that developed.

This hits very close to home for me, because I went through the exact same thing.  When you spend your pregnancy being bombarded with A Baby Story images of love and softness and an armful of perfection, the reality of childbirth and it’s aftermath can be not only a shock, but a huge letdown. Labor isn’t called labor because its easy, and the delivery is not what the majority of moms would call a fun or delightful process. While we do get through it, most of us come out feeling like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck, and looking like we’ve been rode hard and put away wet. After all that work, you want a meal, a shower, and the best painkillers the hospital will give you. Instead, you are handed this funny-looking bundle of need who will be depending solely on you for the next few years. Every meal, every discomfort, even every bowel movement is something you will be required to attend to. They don’t care if you are hungry, they don’t care if they kept you up all night, they don’t care if you haven’t gotten a shower in 3 days, and they don’t care that its the season finale of Desperate Housewives. They want what they want and they want. it. NOW.  It’s a daunting task for us seasoned moms, for a first timer it can be overwhelming. In the midst of trying to cope with all this NEED, while still healing from battle yourself, you are expected to automatically love this child?

Not to say it doesn’t happen, for some people it really does. And I envy them, because I never had that. It took a couple of months before that giddy feeling set in and I knew I truly loved this little person.  I think like falling in love with another adult, it takes familiarity and time spent together. And despite the expectations society seems to have, I think, based on conversations with many other moms, this is much more common than we realize. Like post-partum depression, its a little-talked about thing, because who wants to say “No, I didn’t fall in love with my baby at first sight”? It almost sounds CPS-worthy, fodder for gossip certainly in the best of cases. And it makes us look and feel like bad mothers, which is the weak spot of every parent, because its not just a job, its who we are. To feel like we have failed at that is to take an almost fatal blow to our very core.

I think as moms we need to learn to become more honest with ourselves and those around us. It was only after sharing my experience those I knew admitted yes, they had felt that way too, but had kept it hidden from those closest to them, like some shameful secret. Why can we not talk about these things? Why do we have to keep up this facade that life with a newborn is peachy-perfect from day one? The fact is it’s a damn hard thing to deal with, and the most important thing we can do for ourselves is admit as much and accept the support from those closest to us who have been there as well.

6 Comments on What You Don’t Expect When You Are Expecting.

  1. Jackie
    January 18, 2007 at 10:29 am (11 years ago)

    “Why do we have to keep up this facade that life with a newborn is peachy-perfect from day one?”

    Good question! I surely let my guard down and let everyone around me know just HOW miserable I was when Benjamin was a baby. LOL!!

    Reply
  2. Jennifer
    January 18, 2007 at 10:31 am (11 years ago)

    I did fall in love right away. BUT…I fell out of love 2 weeks into the whole motherhood gig. I was exhausted and alone and sick and tired of being the only person who could feed this baby. This baby that never stopped crying unless eating or sleeping. This baby that was no longer cute because it never stopped crying.
    Luckily, after 2-3 months, I fell back in love. You’re right Sara, we should be honest about how hard it is and not feel guilty when we are not the poster families for “The Baby Story”.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer
    January 18, 2007 at 12:38 pm (11 years ago)

    I certainly know better what to expect this time around. Still, I think I could have been spared a lot of pain and guilt had I known I was NOT the only one with that feeling (or should I say lack of)with Sophie.

    I’ve always believed anything worth doing is not going to be easy. Pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood is no different. The rewards are great, but so is the cost… and it’s something you have to prepare yourself for mentally. It’s not all wine and roses.

    Love the post!

    Reply
  4. Angie
    January 19, 2007 at 1:18 am (11 years ago)

    That is actually quite normal. I won’t say I didn’t fall in love instantly, because I felt this overwhelming joy and the whole nine yards. I was so ready to meet each of my babies. Yet, I also knew that I was going to rock through several emotions that wasn’t based on the baby.

    Deprive anyone of sleep, showers and throw them into taking care of a baby or a larger family it’s hard work and enough to tax the “love” right out of you along with your stamina.

    That first month is always something isn’t it? You swear you’ll never survive it. Then before you know it, it’s over and you are onto something else.

    What always made it easier for me was having my mom around for a week or two afterwards so I could rest and bond with my babies while my mom took care of everything else. So, I could take off my Super Woman/Super Mama cape for awhile and just recover and become acquainted with my baby.

    I think having help who will come and stay with you, keep house (all household chores), cook and help care for the older children is truly essential for helping new parents.

    I know it made it easier to be a new mommy when I had my Mommy around 🙂

    Reply
  5. Beckie
    January 19, 2007 at 7:59 am (11 years ago)

    I felt all the good stuff with Charity, but I honestly don’t know if it was actually her or the fact that the miserable, uncomfortable last month of pregnancy was over. I also wasn’t really sleep deprived or any of the typical new mommy stuff. I was able to take naps, and was blessed with an extremely easy baby.

    However, I fully expect it to be different if we have another. I think I would have felt differently with Charity if I had another small child constantly demanding my attention, if my world included all the everyday life that is impossible to hide from the second time around.

    Reply
  6. Heather
    January 21, 2007 at 4:44 pm (11 years ago)

    There should be an entire book regarding the dirty secrets girlfriends keep from each other. Seriously…I think I could write one. All of the things I felt awful over, worried over, bit my nails over. Only to find out that I wasn’t the only one who felt these things. Let’s start a book Sara!

    Reply

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