By the time my first son came along, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what motherhood would feel like. Almost all of my associations with motherhood were positive ones, distilled from social media posts and pregnancy magazines. In addition to the things I expected to feel, there were the things I thought I had to feel after my baby was born. The downside to having feelings you think you're supposed to feel? When you don't feel those things, you can't help but wonder if you're doing something wrong or if you're broken or if you've made this catastrophic life mistake. It’s kind of like knowing that when the doctor hits your knee you’re supposed to have a reflex. When you don’t have that initial reflect, the problem might just be with you.
I was deeply disappointed to find that all the negative parts about me didn't wash away with the blood and guts that came out of me during my c-section surgery when my baby was delivered. I had expected to emerge from my son's birth a better version of myself. You know, a person without lists, a person who didn't feel like she was missing anything in her life, and a person who was supremely confident in all of her choices. Most of all, I expected to feel immense gratitude for having my wish for a healthy baby granted. That's what we are all supposed to feel, right? Deliriously happy and "hashtag blessed" about our baby joy? So why wasn't it happening for me?
The things I thought I was supposed to feel after my son was born were harmful to my psyche. It would have been better had I gone in with few expectations on myself, and more of an open minded attitude of "come what may." Maybe then I wouldn't have been so hard on myself. So, if you're staring labor and delivery in the face, be kind to yourself. Don't hold yourself to an unrealistic expectation of new motherhood and postpartum life, and don't assume you should automatically start to feel the following feelings: