Meeting your baby: high expectation vs harsh reality

Meeting your baby: high expectation vs harsh reality

Ever since I can remember, I have dreamt of the moment I finally met my very first baby.

The strength of emotion just thinking about it was unbelievable. Before I was even pregnant, I was overwhelmed and excited at the mere anticipation of having a little bundle ‘one day‘.

I watched One Born Every Minute, hopelessly in love and in floods of tears every time a new baby came bursting into the world. Every little bloody, gunky cherub a miracle.

And so naturally, I expected to feel these emotions 100x more intensely when I finally met my own baby.

But it didn’t quite happen that way.

Instead of the overwhelming rush of heart-rendering love and free-flowing tears, I felt very little but shock.

One minute, I was safe in the knowledge a baby was inside me, the next, an actual baby was on my chest. And all I could think was… how the hell did that happen!?

It was screaming and crying and I didn’t know what to do. I shhh’ed and I whispered and I calmed. But inside I was thinking, surely this is a mistake and someone is going to come and take it away from me in a minute? 

Don’t get me wrong – the love was most definitely there. I would have gouged out the eyes of anyone who actually tried to remove her from me. It’s just that it didn’t feel like I’d always pictured it would, and that confused me.

Obviously now I’m not in a labour room, holding a writhing newborn whilst being treated for a postpartum haemorrhage, I can totally understand the shock. It’s never quite real until it’s real. But at the time, I felt absolutely awful for not even shedding a tear and being grateful when my husband took her from me.

If you’ve read Part Two Of my Birth Story, you’ll know that after the birth, I was knee-deep in infection and lack of blood and so was pretty much a zombie for the first few days. I could barely lift a finger to help care for my baby. But I continued to mistake this feeling for a lack of bonding. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t look after my baby like a mother should, even though I felt so unwell.

And this set off the fear

The fear that I was heading into postnatal depression.

Nowadays, there’s so much information available (which is a fantastic thing, obviously) about PND that it’s very easy to try and self-diagnose any emotion out of the ‘ordinary’. But when it comes to having babies, very few emotions are ‘ordinary’. And although being aware of PND and getting help as soon as you recognise you need to is essential, self-diagnosis a day or two postpartum is only adding fuel to your paranoid fire. It’s like when Mr Google suggests a twitch in the eye means certain death.

Being a brand new mother is not immediately rainbows, joy, and bunnies hopping around in pinafores. It’s hard. It’s a huge adjustment to make.

I wish I’d allowed some time to do that adjusting before starting to worry myself. It only made things feel worse. If it had persisted, then I’d have certainly sought help from a medical professional (not Auntie Google), but I’m glad I gave it a few days first.

meeting baby

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

Thankfully, the minute we were released from hospital, I was flooded with relief and began to feel those fears slip away. I was so focused on not getting PND that I was almost making it harder for myself to enjoy my new baby.

With the amazing benefit of hindsight, I know that everything I felt was totally normal. And I’m no longer ashamed to admit I was this overwhelmed at first.

I’m hoping that any new or expectant mothers reading this will take comfort in these words if they too find that it’s nothing like they expected. People tell you that you can never imagine it until it happens, but I wish I’d known the honest reality of the confusing emotions I’d face.

Obviously, everyone will experience something different, but if this helps someone else feel a little less alone, then my job here is done :).

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14 Comments

  1. March 19, 2017 / 12:41 pm

    Such an honest post. Thank you! The emotions post partum are huge! That moment baby is put on your chest and you think *shit, now what do I do?!* plus all the advice and the constant trail of visitors and adjusting to everything on top of being physically drained. It’s amazing we know our own names after having a baby! PND used to be a scary word, but now there’s more understanding out there, it can only be a good thing (the knowledge, not the actual PND) #Blogstravaganza

  2. March 19, 2017 / 1:00 pm

    I was so terrified of getting PPD that I threw myself into full fledged anxiety. Like rocking in a corner shaking anxiety. I traded one fear for another.
    #blogstravaganza

  3. March 19, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing this honest account. It is SO COMMON to not feel that immediate rush of emotions for your newborn, primarily because you are hurting and exhausted after labour and in some cases, a painful delivery. I was rushed in for a long operation immediately after giving birth due to a bad tear, and only got to hold my son 3 hours after he was born! I was in terrible pain for almost a month and breastfeeding wasn’t going smoothly either; it was a tough first month. I wanted to to do so much, but couldn’t because I was physically unable to. But once things settle down, the love flows and the bond grows. Childbirth isn’t as fairytale-ish as it’s often made out to be!
    #Blogstravaganza

    • muffintopmummyblog
      March 19, 2017 / 6:28 pm

      It’s so good to read these comments and realise that so many people go through such similar things – I had no idea it was common at all! Thank you for sharing x

  4. March 19, 2017 / 10:25 pm

    I was afraid of PND too, and convinced that I was the prime candidate. Like you, I let the emotions do their thing for a few days first, and soon realised that hormones had a lot to speak for! #Blogstravaganza

  5. March 20, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Every birth and every reaction is different. I think the first time is such a shock as you recover from the pain and hard work. #Blogstravaganza

  6. March 20, 2017 / 10:58 am

    The first year of motherhood is a lot of work. some handle it like a pro and we wonder how! haha. My biggest bewilderment was how come none of the other babies cry! cuz mine seemed to cry all the time!

    All the best! #marvmondays

  7. March 20, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    The first year is so hard. You’ve never had that much contact with a small person before and then you’re put in charge of one. With no sleep! #MarvMondays

  8. themuddledmother
    March 20, 2017 / 9:54 pm

    So honest. I found it came naturally first time around, but with my second I just didn’t seem to know what to do next #marvmondays

    • muffintopmummyblog
      March 20, 2017 / 9:57 pm

      Thank you. Now it’s completely natural, but it definitely took some time! 🙂

  9. March 20, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    My experience was similar with my second baby, in that I was more tired than anything else immediately after and couldnt wait for the Mr or nurse to take him away so I could go to sleep. The Mr definitely seemed concerned that I didnt want to hold our new baby or bond with him immediately, but I think its completely normal to be overwhelmed and exhausted immediately after. I did bond with him after a few hours and more in the early first days, but just because you arent immediately obsessed with your new baby doesnt mean that youre at risk of getting PND as we’ve both experienced. Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • muffintopmummyblog
      March 21, 2017 / 11:27 am

      Thank you. I think too many soppy films and an overdose of One Born contributed to my confusion at why I felt the way I did. It’s so good to hear that it’s so common!

  10. March 21, 2017 / 11:54 am

    I remember watching One Born Every Minute before I had my first and feeling the same way, but when she was born it wasn’t what I had been expecting! In all honesty it took a few months to really settle into being a parent, I wouldn’t change it for the world now though! Thanks so much for linking up to #Blogstravaganza, hope to see you again next week xx

    • muffintopmummyblog
      March 21, 2017 / 11:58 am

      Thank you!! I’ll be there…😊

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