I don’t believe in love at first sight. Attraction yes…love, no.
When I first saw Squidge all I felt was fear.
He wasn’t supposed to be here yet.
I wasn’t ready to be a Mum.
I wanted my Mum.
As Squidge was supposed to be born by elective c-section we were expecting him to arrive on a specific date and so my Mum had booked time off work to come and support us. She was also prepared for the possibility that the depression might take a while to resolve after Squidge was born and that I might not be able to look after him. If this happened she would take over as much of Squidge’s care as needed and that my husband would be able to look after me.
I’d made a birth plan with the specialist mental health midwife to help me adjust to his arrival and the midwife had got permission for her and my Mum to be present at the c-section, as well as my husband so that I had plenty of support.
The main focus of the birth plan was that when Squidge was born he would be handed to my husband to cuddle first while I took as long as I needed to adjust to the fact that I was no longer pregnant and that I was now Mummy to the tiny new person. I was adamant that I would decide when I was ready to hold him and I would suggest skin to skin if I wanted to. I didn’t want anyone trying to be helpful and giving him to me first or trying to talk to me about bonding.
However, with Squidge arriving in super quick time on a Sunday my midwife wasn’t working that day and no one had time to even think about a birth plan.
Then he needed resuscitation.
Not exactly the plan I had in mind.
The neonatal team knew nothing about my birth plan and so the nurse attempted to give Squidge to me once they were satisfied that he was safe. I tried to tell her to give him to my husband but she kept pushing him towards me. In the end my husband had to take Squidge from her while she tutted at me and I tried not to cry.
He sat down next to me and pulled back the green hospital blanket so that I could see his little face. I remember lots of dark hair all standing on end, that his eyes were open and that he had a very unimpressed look on his little red face.
Then I did cry.
Not with joy or happiness or relief but with terror. All I could think to say was “He’s not supposed to be here yet.”
I was so tired, not just from labour but from the entire pregnancy.
I felt drained.
I didn’t really care what happened as long as people let me sleep.
It took me several weeks to feel like I loved my baby. I wanted to protect him and keep anything bad from happening to him but the love took a while. Now I look at him, sleep deprived and stressed as I am and I can’t believe how much I love him or remember what it was like not to love him.
My mind is calmer and more stable than it has been for years and I wonder if maybe I needed the life event of peing pregnant and having a baby to make me realise that I can cope with far more than I ever thought I could.