My initial feelings when Emsley was born were shock and disbelief. I truly couldn’t believe that I was a mom. I remember the nurses placing her on my chest and instead of looking at her, I turned to look at my husband with wide eyes and an open mouth. I couldn’t believe there was a tiny human on me. Even though I had carried her in my belly for 8 and a 1/2 long months, it was still such a strange thought to me. I remember thinking, “this belongs to me?”, “SHE belongs to me?”. These thoughts lasted for quite some time, even after we came home from the hospital. I would regularly hear people refer to me as a mother or to Emsley as my daughter but it constantly felt as though they were talking about someone else. People would often ask how I was adjusting to my new role as a mom, but I never had much to offer in terms of a response. Looking back now, I think it was because I didn’t really believe that she was here to stay, that she was really mine to keep.
The breastfeeding challenges I experienced immediately after Emsley came into this world brought on a flood of emotions for me, including anger, resentment and frustration. I never expected to feel the way I did during those first days and weeks after she was born. During my pregnancy, and even before we ever tried to conceive, I had expectations of how I would feel towards my child once he/she was here. I expected to feel pure love, joy and excitement and that’s exactly how I felt while I was carrying her. But once she was here, the negative emotions I experienced in relation to the breastfeeding (which consumed much of my time at the beginning) caused me to feel very different than I had expected to feel, and it really threw me for a loop. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that I loved her and I wanted her, and I enjoyed spending time with her but I believe my true genuine feelings of elation were overshadowed by some of the struggles that I experienced.
As time past and breastfeeding became increasingly easier (with the exception of my good friend mastitis), my outlook shifted and so did my emotions. Around the two-month mark, I seemed to almost overnight bloom into an extremely positive, happy, elated version of my mommy self. The emotions I had suspected to feel and yearned to feel from the day she was born finally made their grand debut. I had heard my husband talk about Emsley this way from day one (see A Father’s Perspective) but I had yet to feel it to this level. (I also don’t doubt that my lovely maternal hormones were still out of whack up to this point and probably played a huge part in how I was feeling). Life also seemed to calm down around this time. The visitors slowed down, everyday routine set in and the focus shifted back to the simple household tasks of day-to-day life. This allowed the beauty of our new family member and our new life as three, really set in. It was during this time that the true feelings of love, joy and bliss emerged from me in a whole new level, and boy (or girl) could I not get enough of them! Overnight I had turned into this extremely happy mom, who was feeling such excitement towards her baby. Never had I felt this way towards someone or something before.
Since this shift, I now find myself spending every waking minute just sitting there, taking her in. I will stop in my tracks just to stare at her. I stare at her beauty, her tiny hands and how she kicks and moves about. I study the constant change of facial expressions she makes as she takes in the world around her. I focus on her smiles, yes the true, genuine, not-just-gas smiles that melt my heart for days. I could stare at her for hours, as she inspects new items and learns what they are. I yearn to memorize her reactions to these new things, as well as her likes and dislikes. And, when she looks at me directly in the eyes, focuses on me and recognizes me, her face lights up, her eyes dance with excitement, a smile springs across her face and she sings me coos. It’s in these moments of connection that my heart literally bursts with nothing but love. It’s like a drug I am addicted to; I can’t get enough of it, and can’t get enough of her. It is truly impossible to describe this love in words. It is a love like no other and wow was it worth the wait.