I blogged recently about my miscarriage, and how I loved the baby even though it didn’t even have fingers yet. I am amazed at how a mother can feel love and attachment for a baby that isn’t even born yet. We dream about the baby, and imagine what it might look like. We plan for what outfit it will wear home more than some of us planned our wedding dresses. We buy the books we plan to read to it, and carefully plan out a nursery or sleeping area that will be restful and pretty.
When Molly, my oldest daughter, was born, she was crying, of course. When the nurses laid her on my chest within seconds of birth, I said to her “It’s okay, baby, mama’s here.” And she turned her little pink head towards me and opened her squinty little newborn eyes and looked at me, like she knew I was her mother. I will never forget that moment. The moment where I became a MOM. But in reality, I was a mom a long time before that. When I carefully wrote down all the foods I ate to make sure I was eating from all the food groups; when I stopped drinking Pepsi; when I stopped eating junk food: that was when I became a mom. I loved that unborn child enough to radically change my lifestyle before she was even born!
In my case with my second daughter, I was writing letters to her in her journal before she was born. I was certain that this was going to be “my” baby. My first daughter was clearly a daddy’s girl, but I could feel it deep within me that this one was MY Daughter. For her first six weeks or so, I was proven right. She never wanted to be held by her Daddy. She wanted Mama! I admit I was a bit happy about this turn of events. She was mine, and no one could doubt it. In fact, although she eventually consented to Daddy’s arms, she remained a mama’s girl for years.
In the case of my third daughter, I also wrote to her in her journal. A lot less than the previous children as I had less and less time to write. I didn’t feel as connected to her in the pregnancy, probably because I had started a new job, and Morgan was not yet a year old when I found out I was pregnant, so I was just so busy! When she was born, I held her in my arms and thought she was perfect. And she was. Each of my babies has been perfect.
The one that surprised me the most, however, was Lucas. During my pregnancy, I felt no connection to him. I loved feeling him kick, but I was afraid when he was born I wouldn’t feel anything for him since the strong feelings I had for his sisters wasn’t there. I think part of that lies in the fact that I had a more difficult pregnancy than ever before. I had full on gestational diabetes with insulin shots and everything. I was tired a lot. I was worried that because he was a boy everyone would treat him like he was more special than his sisters. He is the first grandson in my husband’s family, all other grandchildren are girls—even the step grandchildren. Husband joked about giving him whatever he wants because he’s a boy. I know he was kidding, but I would get resentful for my daughters.
And then I had problems during labor. My labor wasn’t normal, like my others, and although I had two natural births before him, and had two fantastic doulas, I asked for an epidural. I was unable to relax with my weird contractions, and then right after the epidural, I started to faint. My blood pressure dropped very, very low, and so did my pulse. They gave me an injection of something, can’t tell you what it was quite honestly, and slapped the oxygen on me. I was to keep the oxygen mask on for the next several hours until he was born. That was when I started to feel the Mom connection. Nothing can happen to my baby! He has to be okay!
When I pushed for 90 minutes, and he still didn’t come out despite being fully dilated and effaced, the doctor suggested a C-Section. I knew she didn’t want to do one (we had talked about it at length prior to labor), and she knew I didn’t want to have one, but she was convinced he was stuck for a reason, and I agreed. She pushed him back up inside, and whisked me off to surgery.
All I could think about was hoping to survive the C-Section, and hoping he was okay. The monitors showed that he was fine, but I was still worried. As they strapped me in the crucifix position, I was starting to get loopy from the drugs. I was amazed at how quickly he got out. One of my Doula’s, Ashley, took a picture of him as soon as he was born to show me. He was spread eagled as they pulled him out. She said he was beautiful. I heard the doctor say he was tangled in the cord, and I was happy that we had made the decision to have the c-section. They upped the drugs once he was born, and all I could say was his name. I wanted to name him.
I wanted to be over the drugs because I wanted to nurse him, but couldn’t. There were some complications, so it took longer to close. Ashley gave him her finger to suck on hoping to preserve that first nursing instinct.
I held him as soon as I could. I loved him. Loved him. LOVED HIM. He was the sweetest, most perfect baby ever! As PPD set in, I still loved him, Loved him, LOVED HIM! I was never angry with him, or depressed about him. I was surprised at how strong my love for him was. How could I have ever doubted that I would love him instantly? I know some women have a delay in their attachment, but not me. I love my little pink fat little babies!
Not every woman who gives birth is a mother, and not every mother gives birth, but the one thing real mothers have in common is loving with every cell of her being her children.