There are so many stories of moms that give birth to their babies and they say their hearts melted and they had true love at first sight. And while I was changed forever and I fully and whole-heartedly have always loved my child and so vividly remember the exuberance of holding my own baby, “true love at first sight” was not my experience. I did not feel like the heavens opened up or that my heart was so full it could burst. I felt like a new mom that was excited to have a newborn, but scared to death of making a mistake. And I was now in a new stage of life not knowing what to expect.
After having an emergency c-section after a long and difficult frank breech labor, I remember laying on an operating table listening to voices I did not know, deliver my baby. I remember my doctor exclaiming “Here she is, dad!” and feeling frantic as I looked around, unable to move much at all. I remember the blinding light and a nurse carrying my child away with my husband. Now, she was here and I did not even get to see her in her first moments and I felt like I had failed her. I had worked so hard to bring her into this world and I had failed. I had done everything I could to give her natural start and I had failed. And all I could see were beautiful starts where I had failed.
I remember looking longingly, with tears in my eyes, in the direction where my husband was tending to her care with the nurse, just wishing I could see her eyes and feel her little hands.
I wanted to badly so have that feeling of complete love, attachment, and adoration and it was taken from me.
Moving into the recovery room, it was such a bitter sweet moment. I remember watching my husband hold her and care for her before he was able to give her to me and I saw so much love in his eyes. I remember my heart jumping as I loved him so much and was so thankful he got to experience such beautiful moments… even if I did not. Now I finally I got to meet my child, nurse her, and bond. But I was scared, a little frustrated, completely exhausted, and hazy from medications.
Transitioning into the first weeks and months of her life, it was uncharted territory and too new for me to find such a bond with her. Nursing was harder and more painful than I could have ever imagined and I felt like the first 12 weeks of her life I was fighting against society to not give up breastfeeding just because I was uncomfortable and in pain.
As she grew and time went on, I found that I could look a little beyond each day and little deeper into her eyes. I started making more of a connection with her and really started to enjoy how we could play and giggle, and enjoy one another. But it wasn’t until 22 months that I looked deep into her blue eyes that I felt my heart absolutely explode with joy, love, and adoration.
It had been a hard day. She had been whiny and I had been tired. That morning I was exasperated by her desperate attempts to get me to let her eat her 5th orange instead of eating some yogurt. I was exhausted from telling her we would go outside after lunch. I was a broken record repeating that her daddy would be home after he got off work. And she was exasperated by me not letting her do whatever she wanted, eat whatever and whenever she pleased, and not having a good enough answer about where her dad was.
We sat down in the living room, both done with each other.
Feeling the need to connect, I invited her over to read and instead she tearfully ran into my arms. She hugged me so tight and looked up at me with a tearful smile. And oh how the flood of emotions came to me in that moment.
That was when I fully understood the unconditional love of a mother and the pure love of a child. It wasn’t as an infant, but it was on one of the hardest days as a toddler that she made me feel like a good mom. Like we were each others worlds. Like I was good enough.
…Like I hadn’t failed her.
22 months after she was born, it was like I was given a new life. This sweet little life I was in charge of and that I was shaping was showing me myself and showing me herself. That tiny personality, those moments of independence, these days of exploration. She is in charge of her world and she so desperately wants me to be a part of every aspect and still loves me when things aren’t going exactly as she would have them. She still loves me when I am exhausted. She still loves me even when I fail her.
I have been renewed and I cherish each day so much more than the day before. I still get overwhelmed and she still gets upset. But in the end, we have developed a sweet bond that trumps anything our hard days may hold.
At 22 months, I now know what it means to truly love my daughter… and to love her with every fiber of my being.
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!