Sometimes, I will lie in bed unable to sleep, two hands on my belly, waiting to see if baby will kick or turn over or do something to let me know she's awake. (She usually likes to be 'up and about' around midnight.)
As I lie there, one thought that always manages to shatter the anticipation is 'how am I going to feel right after I give birth? Like, a minute or so after.' And I panic. I panic in case I won't feel the 'rush of love' that I've heard about from so, so many women. I have these horrible thoughts that I'll just feel numb and weird and very far from maternal.
But in writing this article, I have come to realise that feeling that 'rush isn't a given. It's actually pretty, well, normal to not feel all gooey with love. The biggest thing that could happen in your life has happened, and your feelings are simply bound to go awol.
In this article, I'll introduce you to fifteen women who have been brave enough to speak up, and tell the world that it's not always fluttering hearts and immense love after birth, but in fact, that's ok.
15 So This Is It?
Nearly every night, my partner will say to me, 'you're going to be a mom soon!' And I'll reply with a squeaky, 'yeah, I know!' Then I'll sit and mentally torture myself, saying that there's no way I am going to be ready to be a mom...not in five months...not in five years.
Then, I'll snap to my senses and remind myself that nothing is beyond me, and that my thirty one years on this planet have prepared me for this. And I'll feel a bit better until my next anxiety attack. Anyway, I can totally imagine myself having the very same reaction as that had by mmmk7603 after she gave birth.
"My first words were 'so this is it?' right after they handed her to me. More like who the hell is this child and why are you letting me leave with her? I don't know how to mother!"
14 No Rush Of Love
My mom apparently felt the 'rush of love' with all four of her kids, though I think it was more of a 'rush of goddamn relief' when I emerged from her womb. (I was a BIG baby.)
When Mrs H was pregnant, she was really looking forward to the moment that she would hold her baby for the first time, and that wave of lovely feelings that would come. But the 'rush' didn't come.
"I had a long and exhausting labour and I just felt so drowsy and drugged up I couldn't appreciate the moment. I feel I've missed out on this 'rush of love' and the 'incredible feeling' of having my baby that everyone describes. Despite the fact my son was born 4 years ago, it still makes me feel sad I didn't experience this."
13 Oh My God, It's A Baby
Triona B had a similar experience to our other two previous moms when she gave birth.
"Although I love my kids more than anything I can't say I felt that rush either. With my first when they put him on my chest I just thought, 'Oh my god it's a baby.' I didn't even feel like a mum for the first 6 months I was just someone with a baby.
With my daughter, I didn't have the epidural so I felt everything, after they got her out I was a bit high on gas and air so just thought 'thank god for that!' I don't feel I missed out though, straight after labour was more of a relief feeling for me even though there was the obvious love just not a "rush" more like a dawning after realizing what I had done."
12 Get Him Off Me
I have to applaud the women who are up front with how they really felt after giving birth. We face so much pressure to feel a certain way, that so many new moms are afraid to say anything other than what they have heard is the 'right thing.' However Marcia H wasn't afraid to speak her truth.
"I am not afraid to say I felt numb and I too was so ready for this feeling which did not arrive until later, I can remember them placing him on me for skin to skin, and me thinking, get him off me, which I literally did, I passed him to his dad.
It wasn't until we were alone in the hospital at night, and he would whimper to be held that I realised I loved him so much already."
11 Somebody Take This Baby
I think society has a tendency to dis moms who don't feel that initial 'rush of love' and we need to nip it in the bud. Now. There are a hundred and one different reasons (though probably more) why a woman doesn't feel overcome with loving emotions after she has given birth, and one of them is really quite simple - because she is so bloody tired!
Eve A is one mom who just wanted to sleep after she had given birth. And who can blame her, in all honesty?
"Nah, never had it. (That rush of love.) All I could think was, 'someone take this baby off my chest before I drop her, I need to go to sleep'. It came in time, but it was more like little bursts over a period of weeks/ months."
10 I Couldn't Remember What Happened
It was fascinating to read about Kitty_Rootbeer's birthing experience, as she's the only mom on our list who was so high on adrenaline that she wasn't able to remember what she'd actually been through.
"RIGHT after delivery (unmedicated) I was so hopped up on adrenaline that I couldn't remember what had just happened. I stared at my husband with wild animal eyes until he pointed to the baby being checked out by nurses. Then they gave me some fentanyl and I got actually high.
For the first day or two, starting from the first time minutes after delivery, when I breastfed my baby I felt this intense deja vu. Like I knew exactly what to do, because I'd done it before. That was truly incredible, like tapping into some primal instinct."
9 She Looks A Bit Like A Gremlin
Hayley F had plenty to say on the topic of 'how to feel after giving birth,' and I think you'll be with my on applauding her honesty, bravery and wit in the face of something that is so heavily judged.
"When my daughter was born my first thought was, 'Oh. She looks a bit like a gremlin with bits of my womb stuck to her face.' I love her to bits and think she's an amazing, beautiful little girl but I was too exhausted and drowsy (having had a forty hour labour and no sleep for a week prior to her birth) to really feel much.
The next morning, I lifted her out of her cot and had a feeling of disbelief that she was mine (we'd lost four babies before having my daughter and I'd given up hope on having a healthy baby by the time she arrived)."
8 Shell Shocked
Kathy S had lost one child before she gave birth to her son, so it should come as no surprise to learn that she struggled with her feelings enormously after giving birth, fearing that she would lose him too.
"I should have had that rush of love. It was all I ever wanted. I'd been through several rounds of fertility treatment, a late miscarriage. My son was 5 weeks early which wasn't entirely unexpected and all I felt was fear - that I would lose him as well.
It took several months before that really disappeared. With my daughter, I was just shell shocked and then developed childbed fever which was very serious. No rush of love here but, in the end, I love them more than anything so that's what counts I guess."
7 Took Me A While To Love Her
I try not to think too much about my actual labour. If I mulled it over too often, I would think about all of the things that could go wrong. When Vicky R went into labour, the experience was terrible, leaving her unable to feel much more than relief when her daughter was out.
"I can remember just looking at my daughter and thinking thank god it's all over. It took me a while to love her, I can remember feeling a rush of love for her a few weeks after. I don't worry about it though as it never affected the way I looked after her.
I'm sure if I had had a brilliant and smooth labour and delivery then I would have had the time to take it all in and then I would have felt that rush of love just after her being born."
6 I Felt In Awe, Not In Love
When Maya Harel gave birth to her daughter, she felt more in awe than in love.
"I felt joy, relief, and even awe… deep, huge awe that this was a real baby, that this was MY baby. What I didn’t feel for my baby at that moment, or even necessarily in the first few days after her birth, was that rush of love.
I knew the baby in my arms would be hugely important in the rest of my life, but right now, we had just met. I don’t remember if I said, “Hello,” but I know I thought it. 'Hi, baby. Apparently, I’m your mother. It’s really great to meet you.'
I only realized that I didn’t fall in love-at-first-sight with my baby months later, when I was feeling that kind of love that made my heart feel like it might burst."
5 I'm Not Mother Material
Carly Brown thought that she was 'faulty' when the love for her baby failed to come.
"I started to worry. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me. I was faulty, not mother material. Would I be able to take care of this baby if I didn’t have the Holy Grail of emotions? I gazed and gazed and smiled and smiled, lest one of the midwives might work out I was a fraud who didn’t love my baby.
Still, it didn’t come. I didn’t not love her. I didn’t dislike her. And I definitely wanted her very close to me. But I didn’t feel the thing. I didn’t feel anything. Not love, not joy, not upset. Nothing. I just felt numb. After a very long time, research and perspective, I discovered that what happened to me is not uncommon at all. It’s just not spoken about."
4 I Didn't Feel A Bond
Lisa Fogarty expected that, when the doctor would place her baby in her arms, that her baby would look up at her and know she was her mommy and all would be well. What really happened was quite the opposite.
"I had to ask the nurse how to hold her because I kept causing her head to collapse. I didn't feel love. I didn't feel a bond. The only thing I felt was that I had a baby whose needs I could not meet, who could not be sated, no matter how hard I tried.
I was in awe with her. I wanted desperately to nourish her and be the mom she needed. But it wasn't love -- yet. It was an all-consuming fear that didn't abate for weeks. But when that fog finally lifted, I realized love was always there."
3 I Was Proud
Emily_Nguyen wants moms to know that, should they be overcome with happiness after giving birth, that they should enjoy every moment of feeling that way, because a hormone crash is bound to happen.
"I do remember feeling super happy when the baby was born. I was just... I was proud of myself, I was totally head-over-heels in love with my son. I barely slept because I just couldn't stop watching him.
Some really shitty things happened to us in the hospital but besides that I was feeling unreasonably happy for the first week or so. My husband says that the day I gave birth I was just glowing and the happiest he had ever seen me. Then the hormone crash happened. So enjoy the happy feeling you have right now!"
2 I Felt Empty And Sad
Heather Holter didn't feel joy or love when she was handed her baby, only relief that her son was out after one-and-a-half hours of pushing, an emergency vacuum extraction and a broken tailbone. (I can only begin to imagine the pain...)
"The nurse hands my this tiny human with a cone shaped head that I do not recognize. All I feel after a 22 hour labor (six of which I was in the transition phase), is relief that it is over. I don't feel joy or love.
After a short while I hand the baby off to my husband and I cry myself to sleep. I feel empty and sad. I wish I could have made it the nine more days until my due date. I loved pregnancy so much I didn't want it to end."
1 Not All Rainbows And Sparkles
The vast majority of people have tunnel vision when it comes to birth. They have this image in their heads of the hospital room being flooded with love and unfathomable amount of joy. And if that love and joy aren't there, they are only too quick to inflict judgement and shame on the poor souls involved. Kind of sick in a way, isn't it?
Bianca Avelino-Oldham is one mom who felt - like so many others - guilty for not feeling like she 'thought' she should be feeling.
"I too wasn't feeling all rainbows and sprinkles when my son was born. I felt guilty, because I thought I wasn't normal for feeling this way. Also, no one wants to talk about it either. Hopefully we can chip away at this stigma."
Sources: Reddit.com, NetMums.com, HuffingtonPost.com, CafeMom.com, Mamalode.com