Love At First Sight

I have a confession to make. I didn’t fall in love with my baby the moment that I saw him.

I was prepared to. I heard stories of the glorious feeling of meeting your baby for the first time; one mom likened it to “the heavens opening up and angels singing”. I watched birth videos where moms wept with happiness while they cradled their new bundle of joy in their arms. When asked about the best moment in their lives, inevitably a parent will recall that moment when they first laid eyes on their new baby. Yup, I was ready for an overwhelming, instantaneous love.

The first time that I saw my baby was on the operating table after having a c-section. I had an epidural, but was fully alert. I felt them tugging him out, then heard his tiny cry. It sounded so foreign. I thought that somehow I might recognize it, or feel some connection with it. It just sounded like a baby crying. His dad got to see him first while they cleaned him up and weighed him. I laid there, shaking violently due to the medication, waiting to see this tiny person that I had carried inside me for nine months. My partner did his best to describe our new baby while I waited to meet him: it was a boy and he had dark hair and all of his fingers and toes. It seemed like forever before they finally brought him to me.

Love to Love You Baby (song)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was wrapped in a green towel with a little white hat on his head. The nurse put him on my chest and I put my hand on him. His face was all puffy and his eyes were unfocused and we both just laid there, me staring at him and him staring past me. After a couple of minutes, the took him away again and then wheeled me to the recovery room. That was it.

I was happy to finally meet him, but I didn’t fall in love at first sight. For the first few days, when I held him it felt like I was holding someone else’s baby. He didn’t feel like he was mine. I felt like a failure and a bad mom.

As the days passed and we started to get to know each other, my love for him grew. Now, almost nine months later, when I look back on the day that he was born I feel that overwhelming rush of emotion for my newborn baby…in hindsight. I don’t think my love for my baby is static. It grows and evolves and changes as he does and as I do. We just needed to get to know each other, that’s all.

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5 Ways That I Feel Like Less of a Mom

I don’t know why, but eight months into this parenting adventure I still hesitate to call myself a mom. I clearly am one, but I feel like I haven’t earned the right to use that label yet. For some reason I have this idea in my head that our “momness” can be evaluated on a scale, and I just don’t measure up. It makes absolutely no sense, but here are some of the reasons why.

I feel like less of a mom…

London, England Caesearian Surgery, obstetrici...

London, England Caesearian Surgery, obstetricians at work. This is an edit of the original image, reducing colour and luminosity noise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…because I had a c-section. It was an emergency section and probably saved my baby’s life, but I still feel like I cheated. I feel like moms who give birth vaginally, and especially naturally, really earn their stripes. I can’t even count the number of women who tell me that they wish they would have had a c-section, as if it were the easy way out. Maybe that’s why I feel this way. I know that undergoing major surgery wasn’t easy, physically or emotionally, but it still makes me feel like less of a mom.

…because I only have one baby. I know that most moms only start out with one, but I feel like I have no right to complain about being tired or busy with only one baby. My mom had twins when I was 18 months old. Now she can probably tell you about being tired and busy. I feel like an amateur compared to moms with two or three or more kids.

…because my baby is so young. I barely know anything about being a mom. My baby’s needs right now are fairly basic. He’s not even mobile. I haven’t yet entered the arenas of tantrums and schoolwork and adolescence. Moms who have been through all that can really see the big picture and know what it truly means to be a parent.

…because I’m going back to work. Out of financial necessity, when my baby is one year old I will be returning to work and he will be in daycare. I’ve heard people ask why someone would have kids if they’re just going to have someone else raise them. I hate to say it, but I don’t totally disagree with that statement. My son’s daycare provider is going to be there for his first steps, his first words, and all sorts of other firsts. I’m going to miss out on so much. It makes me feel like a crappy mom.

…because I’m not breast-feeding. I feel like I’ve beaten this subject to death, so I won’t get into great detail again, but I envy moms who can breast-feed their kids. I feel like they have a connection with their babies that I’ll never have. It makes me feel like less of a woman and definitely less of a mom.

I know that I’m new to motherhood and that obviously I don’t have the experience and perspective that seasoned moms have. I know that it’s not a competition and that I have no one that I need to measure up to, but sometimes it feels that way. I think that I just need to accept myself and my limitations, be thankful for what I do have, and not be afraid to call myself a mom.

Let’s Be Nice To Each Other, Okay?

I’m starting a campaign. It’s a “Say Something Nice to a Mom” campaign. And I seriously think that we need it.

I’ve been up on my soapbox about formula-feeding these days, but I haven’t lost perspective. I know that breast-feeding moms are judged just as harshly (and sometimes more so) than formula-feeding moms. Yesterday I was having a discussion on Facebook with a mom friend of mine who was dismayed when someone in an online forum compared breast-feeding in public with defecating in public. The day before, I was in an online forum where people were comparing moms who breast-feed to term (until their baby is 1 year old or older) to pedophiles.

Judgement isn’t just confined to the arena of infant feeding. Any possible decision that we can make as parents will be judged, and harshly. And I mean every decision. From where your baby sleeps to what he wears to whether you vaccinate to how many kids you have to what toys you buy…it’s pervasive, and it’s exhausting.

zoloft-and-breastfeeding

(Photo credit: Life Mental Health)

Look. None of us really know what we’re doing. We each have our own set of values, morals, and ideas that we base our decisions around. What works for me might not work for you, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that either of our children will be better or worse off. There is no “right” way to be a parent. Putting down my choices doesn’t make yours any more valid. The fact that I am doing something differently doesn’t mean that you can’t parent the way that you want to. I don’t know about you, but I’m so busy trying to make sure I don’t screw up my own kid that I couldn’t possibly take on the responsibility of making sure that the rest of the world is doing what I think is right.

Being a parent is like treading water in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by people in lifeboats who are all yelling at you that you’re not trying to keep afloat correctly. Let’s start helping each other out, okay?

Here is my idea and new mission: every day, say one nice thing to a mom. That’s it. Simple, huh? But I think it will make a huge difference. I can guarantee that she will remember what you said and appreciate it more than you could know.

When I went to Chicago to introduce baby P. to my partner’s family, one of his friends said to me that I was a good mom. To this day I still remember how good it felt just to hear those words. It’s not something that we hear often.

So let’s give it a try. When you talk to one of your mom friends, compliment her on something that you admire. Make sure it’s sincere. Maybe she’s always dressed nicely, or she helps her kids with their homework every night, or she has a close relationship with her teenager. Whatever it is, let her know that you noticed and that you think she’s great.  Call your own mom and thank her for all of her hard work and the kick-ass job she did in raising you. And don’t forget to compliment yourself as well! Think of something that you’ve done that you’re proud of and give yourself a pat on the back.

There is your mission. Go out, share this post, spread the message, and say something nice to a mom today!