Friday, April 22, 2011

Falling in Love

So I was reading this this morning, and it got me thinking, tangentially, about how hard it was those first few days to really feel like I loved Bug. I didn't feel exactly as the post I linked to describes- I was tired, but not down-to-the-bones exhausted. I never thought about trading my daughter for a hot meal or shower, and I made sure I had one of each of those things every day. I didn't ever sleep during the day, and I functioned just fine, though I did get frustrated more easily than normal. But I kept looking at Bug and wondering when I would start to love her.

Z didn't have this problem. He was head-over-heels the moment he watched her slip out of my vagina. And he developed the ability to sleep through anything, so he wasn't tired at all. I tried to explain it to him. "It's like, yes, I love her, but it's because she's this little lump I pushed out of my body, not because I love her for who she is. I don't really feel it when I look at her or anything." Fortunately, he didn't freak out about me not loving our daughter. He just put one hand over mine and told me that I would get there. And I did, somewhere in week two.

Relevant to this is an experience I had our first or second night at home, one of the few nights Bug spent in the bassinet. I woke up to see her throwing up- not spitting up, this thing projectiled- while she was laying on her back. She started to choke on what didn't fly through the air out of her mouth, and I think I moved quicker than is actually physically possible, because I don't remember standing up and grabbing her, she was just suddenly in my arms. I was terrified. What if I hadn't woken up? What if she had choked to death, right there, two days old and only two feet from my bed?

I didn't think I loved her yet, but I knew my life would be destroyed if I lost her. It was a weird realization. I think, now, that maybe I did love her and just didn't recognize what it felt like to feel a mother's love for a child. As a child, you love your parents because they care for you. You love your siblings because they're always there, and at least sometimes are nice to you. You love friends because they've somehow attracted you. You love your partner because of who they are and how you fit together with them. But you don't love your baby for any reason other than that they exist. Babies don't earn love. And early on, before they begin interacting with the world, there's not a lot about them to love, really. They just exist, and you love them. Or don't. I'm still not sure.

I will say that now that she does something besides sleep and chew on my nipple all day, it's a lot easier to look at that face and feel the love.

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