This year has been my toughest year of my life. Particularly the first 6 months of Isla’s life. It was a major adjustment that I could have never anticipated, and never knew how much a new baby would rock my world. The hardest part for me was the sleep deprivation – which I expected, but I still couldn’t fathom how it would alter my mind, mood and body. In all honesty, I always expected to bond with my baby immediately and feel that unconditional love the second I laid eyes on her, but that wasn’t the case for me. I know this may sound harsh and sometimes I questioned what kind of mother I was going to be, but I want to share my truthful experiences and thoughts because I want other future mothers to know that it IS normal if you don’t feel the instant connection with this little one that has been living in you for almost a year. But that doesn’t mean the love won’t grow (fiercely) with time.
I questioned what kind of mother I was going to be…
My labour and delivery wasn’t terrible in the grand scheme of things, it actually went quite smoothly and was relatively uncomplicated compared to some stories I’ve heard, but it was still such a shocking experience for me. I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly tough person, and this day was the hardest of my life. As with the difficulties of the first few months and sleep deprivation, I was ‘warned’ that at some point I would feel like I was dying and all I could think of was “how do so many women do this?!?” No amount of preparation can fully ready you for this experience , but the reason I’m writing about this is so that you can do some mental preparation. On the outside I appeared basically “calm” (or as calm as you can appear in this type of situation), but inside I was a hot, screaming mess. I was panicking on the inside and this resulted in a feeling of trauma post birth. I didn’t understand a lot of what was happening, although I thought I was over-prepared. After about 6 months after of trying to internally process this whole experience I was finally able to really talk about my honest feelings with some other new moms that I am lucky enough to know. I realized I wasn’t alone in this whole experience, many new moms feel the same feelings and lacked the elusive instant bond with their babies. Once I began talking and sharing, I was able to move forward and start thinking about next time and what I will do to have a less traumatic experience.
This day was the hardest of my life.
Going into my first birth, I was planning on a home water birth with no medication. This idea really appealed to me because I did a lot of reading and research about epidurals and medical interventions and how they could negatively impact the baby and the entire experience. Because there was meconium in my water when it broke, we were advised to proceed at the hospital for the safety of me and my baby. Although I had this natural plan, I was still open to anything, but deep down I wanted to experience the entire process and thought I could tough it out and avoid the epidural. After dialating quickly to 10cm and doing a lot of pre-mature uncontrollable pushing, I finally got an epidural right before pushing and was so grateful for the pain relief at that time. Having the epidural really slowed labour down and I started regretting my decision to take the pain medication…
Looking back on this decision and the weeks proceeding it, I was disappointed with myself, and thought I should have been able to control my panicky thoughts a little better. I have completely gotten over this feeling of disappointment and have since replaced that feeling with acceptance and an overall feeling of gratitude for how well it really did go, not to mention my perfectly healthy baby.
Having only 1 short year of parenting experience under my belt, I am reminded by my sweet, wonderful husband that motherhood is not the frolic in the meadows that I expected. I always thought I would have this ‘motherly instinct’ when it came to important decisions I would be making for my child(ren), but it couldn’t be farther from the case for me. When we were trying to work on sleep training, food we are feeding her, formula vs. no formula – every decision has come with an extreme amount of doubt and worry if I’m doing the right thing. But the positive side to this is that it really does get easier over time and with experience, you realize that you do whatever you need to do to make things work for you and your family. More than ever, this is a time you need to ignore what everyone else is saying and do it your way!
The past year has been the greatest journey of all journeys…
Overall, the past year has been the greatest journey of all journeys, the greatest of all challenges and the most beautiful one at that. Seeing Isla grow and learn and thrive fills me with the most profound feeling of love, pride and excitement for what’s next in her development. She blows my mind and expectations daily, and I still can’t believe that she is real and she is mine. I know the future holds a great amount of challenges as we grow our family, but in the end, it is so ridiculously worth it! And that is something you’ll have to experience for yourself to truly understand.