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Learning to Love My Son

This post isn’t exactly fun to write, but I am making it public in the hopes that it might help someone who may feel similarly. I’ve been seeing posts written by other women about the topic of postpartum adjustments and it feels important to add my voice to the mix.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you’ll know that I endured 4.5 years of infertility. What you may not know is that I suffered through a difficult pregnancy plagued by large fibroids and little appetite. But I prayed and prayed that I would get to see a healthy, happy baby.

And I did. But once I met him, I didn’t love him. I didn’t hate him either, but I felt as though he weren’t real. That he wasn’t really my son. That I was never pregnant and being in the hospital with a baby in my room was a complete and total fraud. When I held him for the first time, I thought he was a doll. I could not believe he was a real human being. It seemed as though everyone banded together to play a mean trick on me to try to convince me that I had this great responsibility now. And I didn’t want it.

I cried every day for four weeks since the birth of my son. I cried when the Velcro strap came off the diaper, I cried myself to sleep, I cried when he cried. I simply just cried for no good reason. You could have told me that hormones were making me crazy, but I didn’t feel them. I just knew my mood would crash deeper and deeper and deeper. My depression seemed to be a bottomless pit.

I tried to look at the positives about my newborn son: he was adorable and he was healthy. But I still grappled with the reality that he was really mine and that he had really come from my womb.

I had never really interacted or taken care of newborns before my son was born so I was nervous about holding him properly, ie, supporting his head, not hurting his arms, not crushing his feet. I tried my best to care about him. I told myself that he was what I had been waiting nearly 5 years for. That I was supposed to love him. But all I could feel was a sense of detachment that barely bordered on obligation.

If you’ve read my son’s birth story, you’ll know that I had a Caesarean section. I don’t know about other women, but I can tell you that the first two weeks were the most difficult weeks I’d ever experienced. My newborn son did not cry in the hospital, but once he came home, he let my husband and me know that he had some lungs. Moving was painful. Holding my son while he cried was painful. During those first two weeks, my husband did everything. He got up in the middle of the night to feed and change the baby. Quite honestly, I was so tired and in so much pain, I couldn’t even hear my baby cry.

I told myself to love my son but how do you force yourself to love someone when you don’t feel it? I loved him in an obligatory way. I would feed him, change his diaper, and burp him. I did this consistently. But I did not love him as I thought I ought to.

Five weeks after his birth now and I’m realizing that love is a process for me. I was not awash with instant, overwhelming love for my son upon first sight. Each day, I slowly learn to love him a little bit more. Maybe one day I’ll be totally head over heels for him but that day isn’t today. But I am learning to love him and care for him beyond obligation.

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  1. Beth
    March 17, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    Your honesty is inspiring. I’m sorry that things are difficult and glad that they are heading in the right direction.

  2. March 17, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    After I had my son, I seriously wished I could give him up for adoption. I spent a lot of time trying to get the courage to broach the subject with my husband. A week after up, I ended up with the psych ward. 11 years later, I am happy to say that my son is one of the great loves of my life. You can get through this. Your blog(s) have helped me through my ups and downs with depression. I am praying for you, I mean this in earnest: if you need someone to talk with, feel free to contact me,

  3. Rebecca
    March 17, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Thank you for sharing. I think it is important for others to hear what you are experiencing.

  4. Ren
    March 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    More women than anyone suspects go through this, I know. I’m so glad you’re sharing this. My mom has talked about how she was just so very sad after I was born. And she was so afraid to tell anyone because what mother isn’t happy about their baby? What mother doesn’t immediately love their child? In reality, though, a lot of mothers have this struggle, especially after a particularly difficult pregnancy or birth. Women need to know that it’s okay to feel like this. This isn’t abnormal. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. Good on you for sharing!

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