Before I became a mother I thought I would immediately bond with my babies the moment they were born. Just like so many things in parenthood, though, reality didn't match my expectations. Turns out, sometimes bonding with another human takes time. Despite breastfeeding difficulties, postpartum depression, postpartum pain, and feelings of inadequacy, slowly, but surely, my body recovered and let me know I was bonding with my baby.
Some of these signs were pretty subtle, like a faint ache in my heart when I looked at their tiny hands and feet or smelled their sweet baby heads. Others were less subtle, like the inexplicable tears resulting from a slew of mixed emotions — happy, overwhelmed, sad, excited, and exhausted — that I couldn't seem to control. Others weren't really subtle at all. I mean, unless you call shooting breast milk out of my nipples and across a room when you hear your baby cry, subtle. At the time, I totally didn't realize that these signs were just my body's way of telling me that I was bonding with my baby and, in the end, there was nothing to worry about. It might not have been immediate, but my newborn and I were forging a relationship that would, and will, last forever.
This might sound sentimental, but I never knew my heart could grow in its capacity to love, until I became a mother. It totally can, though. The first weeks of motherhood were so emotionally draining and physically taxing, to be sure, but I discovered that if you stop and listen to what your body is telling you, you just might feel your bond with your baby grow as each day passes.
I felt this ache in my chest, and a lump in my throat, when I looked at my baby — like my heart was hurting from growing to accommodate the love I had for this beautiful baby. It literally hurt to love him so much and want to protect him so fiercely.
I worried that my baby would get hurt or sick or would feel sad, and this made my heart race and my mind travel to "worst case scenario" land. While this anxiety didn't feel good at all, it was a sure sign of my love for my baby, as well as my innate desire to keep him safe and happy.
One of the first signs of the love I have for my baby was annoyingly leaky boobs. I would see or smell him and they would literally spring to life and leak all over my shirt (or him) before I could get him latched.
I am definitely the type of person who cries in response to all sorts of things. When I am postpartum, my capacity to sob at random occurrences intensifies. One time I happy cried because the tiny swirl of hair on the back of my son's head reminded me of the vastness of the universe. Deep thoughts and happy tears were our love language.
I couldn't sleep much in the newborn weeks, not even when my baby was sleeping. When it wasn't due to anxiety or depression, it was because I stared at him at night, watching his chest rise and fall and feeling my love for him grow.
Seeing my baby smile, hearing him giggle, snuggling him, and smelling his sweet head, which still has his "new baby smell," makes me smile right back at him. He brings me so much joy, and his smile is contagious.
When my baby sleeps against my chest, I can actually feel my own heart rate slow down to match his. I feel relaxed, calm, warm, and gooey.
There is no force in the universe stronger than the urge to sleep while holding your sleeping newborn. I mean, it's like gravity, only stronger. A guaranteed insomnia cure and a sure sign that I was in love with this tiny, snoring human.
Feeling At Ease
There was this moment a few weeks postpartum when everything just felt right. It was such a relief after a couple of weeks of feeling like a stranger in my new role as someone's mom. He fit so perfectly in my arms, and I started to feel confident in my abilities as a parent. It was like my body knew I was a mother and that having each other was meant to be.