Surges of Love
A strange but common phrase you’ll here in the world of pregnancy/motherhood/parenthood is around ‘surges of love’ specifically that first one. No not ‘surges’ (a term commonly used in hypnobirthing in place of contraction) but ‘surges of love’. You know the movie magic ones. That ooooh major first one where you hold your baby for the first time and you feel a surge of love like you’ve never experienced before. Actually a whole new level of love like you’ve never experienced before! And dim the lights, roll the credits, the movie is over. Aww wasn’t that lovely. Or not.
A wonderful friend of mine warned me in advance that that surge of love, that practically everyone has an ideal idea about, might not happen immediately. For her it took a few hours because she was so exhausted from labour it took that time for her to really register what had happened. It’s different for everyone we discussed and I went in knowing that and having that managed expectation. What I didn’t expect was for it to actually be months, not weeks, days, hours or minutes for me to really noticeably feel that surge. That’s not to say I didn’t love my son from the moment he was born, and there were of course moments straight after birth and during that initial recovery in the hospital where I held him and felt so much love. And when we were home in the first weeks and months there were so many moments of love, joy and calm like when I would hold him while he slept or we had another successful feed or he smiled for the first time or I got to see my favourite people in the world meet the gorgeous little boy I had created. But the overwhelming feeling for me was pretty much shock, awe and exhaustion following giving birth and then how difficult postnatal recovery was. My initial feelings were then sadly joined by anxiety before morphing into depression. It took time for me to feel calm and settled enough in my own motherhood to let those surges in.
I always caveat these things by saying time and time again that I did suffer with diagnosed postnatal depression and anxiety for the first few months. But that’s still not to say that my ‘surge of love’ experience would have been any different had I not had those illness. I might have felt that same way regardless or it might be directly because of those postnatal mental health experiences that I felt that way. I just don’t know. It’s also so important to say that there’s not a right or wrong time to have that ‘surge of love’ feeling. For me I remember having those feelings really come to me around the 3-4 month mark. The feelings like a wave of joy and love crashing down around me daily. They came when the fog started to lift. Once I’d got through that ‘survival’ period. And it’s genuinely, and sadly, taken me a long time to come to terms with that fact and even more so for me to be able to admit openly to it.
In my last post I talked about feeling like a ‘Bad Mum’ for a number of reasons but this one I kept tight to my chest for a long time. A secret I guarded I was horrified with myself that I hadn’t felt the way I thought you were meant to feel in at least the first 24 hours for over 12 weeks. What kind of mother was I!? I’ll tell you what kind of mother I was...a damn good one. But also one that was exhausted and suffering with poor mental health. I wish I had cut myself some slack. Because it doesn’t mean I love my son any less than anyone else. Of course it doesn’t. It doesn’t even mean I didn’t wholly and completely love my son from the moment he was handed to me. But birth and becoming a parent come with a minefield of emotions and experience and no handbook. You have to suddenly navigate so much - emotionally, physically and mentally - while learning a whole new set of skills. All while ridiculously sleep deprived and feeling a huge new weight of responsibility upon your shoulders that you have never felt before. It’s a lot. Let alone if, on top of all of that, you suffer with any poor mental health too. It’s a f**king lot. And that’s a HUGE understatement.
I’m also now convinced that I did feel that surge earlier. But I was so lost in the heaviness of things that I couldn’t recognise it at the time. Which is possibly even sadder than thinking I wasn’t feeling it at all. I do, to a degree, mourn those first few months of motherhood for myself. Because I feel like I lost a lot to postnatal anxiety and depression. I lost experiences and emotions and time that I won’t get back. I lost first milestones. I lost my sons first Christmas. All to those bas**rds. I can only continue to enjoy what I get to wholly enjoy now and, if I ever go through all of this again, go into it with eyes opened to the world and with my experiences and new knowledge to hand to try and stop it happening again. It still might though. That’s the sad nature of the beast. But now I know I’m not alone. Now I know it’s not just me. Now I know I’m a good Mum.
So whether you felt that surge of love instantly or whether it took time, it doesn’t change or affect how much you love your baby. And it’s yet another bulls**t piece of movie magic you’ll come to recognise as being utter rubbish once you’ve actually gone through having a baby...along with your waters breaking everywhere and having to rush to the hospital, giving birth sitting up/on your back, having perfectly coiffed hair and beautiful makeup when you do push that baby out and you’ll start to repeatedly shout at the TV that “there’s NO WAY that’s a newborn baby they’re about 6 months old!” whenever a baby is on screen! Let alone scoff at the beautifully made up woman staring lovingly down at her (6 month) old ‘newborn’ baby on camera smiling joyfully all around.
Regardless of when it happens for you just know you’re a great Mum, let alone a good one, and we all love them endlessly and unconditionally in the end. It doesn’t matter when that first ‘surge’ comes apart from when they’re actual surges (contractions) - those are quite important to recognise and start counting. But don’t worry you don’t have to rush off if your waters break!