By Guest Blogger Dani Loxton (@danileegardner)
Before my pregnancy, I watched the mums-to-be who were ahead of me in their pregnancies take in all the advice they received from others - some with ease, most with frustration. Even from the outside, the advice - actually more like opinion - is difficult to filter.
You know what I am talking about, don't you? Whether they call it advice, opinions or stories, when it came my time to hear them all I promised myself was to listen but never let them consume me. I tried!
What to eat. What not to eat. What to drink. You need drugs. Drugs in labour are bad. Labour stories (horror stories). Newborn stories. Babes and routines. Babes and their sleep. The sleep you will never get again. Dummy and thumbs, comforters and breasts. Blah blah blah, you get my drift.
I had no idea. I was a blank canvas and I listened to it all, rude opinions included. But what I am wanting to share with you is something I wish someone, out of all of those people, had with me. I thought I had heard it all, but this was the only thing that no one had mentioned to me. They never talked about that moment you first lay eyes on that babe of yours!
I am sure you are reading this thinking it is a predicable recollection. You're expecting me to explain that instant, soppy, intense love you feel, right? The incredibly over the top love that is like nothing else? The love of a mother with a heart so full it's nearly spilling over? That love you never knew existed? That is what I was expecting too.
But apparently I don't do things the way everyone else does. Or do I?
After a text book pregnancy, which felt like an elephant's pregnancy in both size and time filled with typical cravings (crushed ice and olives anyone?), typical obsessions (her nursery must be perfect!) and a lot of online shopping (my babe was totally Instagram-ready!) - I ended up in a text book labour. So of course I was expecting the text book feelings to finish it all off.
I ended up in the hospital for only a few short hours. It wasn't stressful, I wasn't exhausted and I didn't even sweat (to those who know me, that's a big deal! Walking to the letter box makes me sweat!). Anyway, I'm digressing. I had my beautiful baby girl placed on my chest. I had my husband in tears of joy staring right at her, at us. You could see the love pouring straight from his heart covering both myself and our daughter. I looked at him and my heart felt so full already. I felt more in love with him than I ever thought possible. Yup, I was told that would happen.
Then I looked down at my babe and I knew I should be feeling what my husband was expressing. So why wasn't I? It just wasn't there. I looked at her and I loved her, yes but that overwhelming love like no other, where was it? Had it not got the memo that Ivy had entered earth side?
I felt detached and like she wasn't really mine to love. Was I dreaming and watching someone else's life? But how could I love someone that way, so heavily, who I had only just met? And I had only just met her. I didn't know her yet.
I had a calm birth, so I can't really blame shock. I thought there may have been something wrong with me. Had I a touch of postnatal depression? Why wasn't I feeling this wave of emotion everyone, and I mean everyone, had excitedly told me about? When people asked me if I cried when she was born, I felt the need to lie and pretend I did. I wanted to join in with what sounded like an incredible experience.
She was beautiful, she was sweet and oh so precious. Was I broken?
No! I was perfect. She was perfect. And WE were perfect. I knew that I loved her but I had just met her.
Then finally it was just her and I. She looked at me like she had known me for years. She looked right into me, and I can tell you that the love I did have for her got stronger and stronger every minute. It still does to this day.
It is a foreign love, yet a love I felt like I have had in me forever just waiting to have some one to receive it. A love that, at times, can actually make me feel almost sad. Sad at the thought of people never getting to experience it.
My little miss is my best friend. Each day is better than the last, because it is a whole other 24 hours I've got to spend with her. I've been greeted with yet another wake up smile, shared another evening snuggle and everything in between. I often forget there even once was a time without sharing those morning smiles and nigh nigh snuggles.
I feel that if this was one of the stories being hurled at me (in between being told I will never shower or sleep again, or how to reduce stretch marks), that if I had been warned about it, then I wouldn't have doubted myself.
But I do know why this gradual emotive response is not as easily thrown around in the same way as the instant bonding experience is. It is so difficult to discuss. Too hard to word, without having it fall into a case of postnatal depression or making the mother sound horrible, heartless or mean.
Just remember that no two experiences can be the same and all should be shared. There are those people who feel that overflowing love from the moment they see those two lines on the pregnancy test. The ones who burst into years of joy upon meeting their baby for the first time. And then there's me: who loved my babe once she was placed on my chest (she was pretty darn cool!) but that overwhelming, indescribable 'love that you don't know exists' didn't show up until I got to spend time with just her and I. Until she got to know me and I got to know her - and now, stereotypically, I wouldn't know what to do without her.
Don't doubt your love. You are human. You are a mother. You are enough. You are perfect.