Love Grows | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

September 18, 2012

Love Grows

"Everyone says having a baby is so awesome. And it's just...not..."

She holds her days-old baby boy, who sleeps quietly in her arms. His body is so tiny, the onesie he wears is swimming over his limbs.  I look over this new mom: a nursing tank top, loose pants for her labored-yet-not-back-to-normal body, tired face, hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. Her eyes are wet, and I can hear the tightness in her voice as she tries to be strong and hold back the tears threatening to spill over. 

Oh, how I remember those tears.

In this moment there are so many things I want to say to her. I want to tell her there are a thousand and one things that books, doctors and other parents should tell you before you become a Mom, but they don't. I want to tell her that everyone else makes parenting look easy, but every one struggles behind closed doors.  All moms struggle, cry and wonder if they are cut out for this role; but no one ever talks about it. I want to tell her that I know the fear, the guilt and the lonliness during this transition from an independent person to suddenly caring for a completely dependent little being. I want to tell her the tears are normal, the hormones reside, it does get better. 

SO. Much. Better.

Before I can share some encouragement, she looks away, wiping a stray tear, and turns her focus ahead to stare at the wall in front of us.  I hear her words with my heart before I hear them with my ears:

"I do love him. I just...don't feel love for him."

She makes her confession, part apology, part seeking affirmation that she is not a horrendous, awful person. 

Oh friend. Oh dear, aching friend. I have been there.

I remember being pregnant with Chica almost 5 years ago. The pregnancy was a bit of {read: totally} a surprise. I hadn't the time to consider, to wish, to think, to plan. One day it was just there, 2 pink lines confirming that our lives would change forever. I know so many women who struggle, toil and endure heartache to know the joy of pregnancy, of motherhood. I love those mothers (or one-day mothers), and my heart goes out to them. I cannot pretend to know your pain, but I know it is so, so real. 

When I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant, I struggled with my own fears: looking ahead completely uncertain of my ability to care for and raise a child, fear of how my life would change, some days I even mourned the pending loss of the life of just Hubby and I. It sounds so selfish, I'm sure. I was just so overwhelmed by the unknown. I had no idea how to feel.

During my pregnancy, every mother in my life shared their thoughts, feelings and stories. Many shared the unnecessary horror stories of pregnancies and births gone awry ("...and THEN the doctor came in and stuck me with a needle the size of a COW"). Others shared their very specific and exclusive advice on how you need to care for your child ("Never wake a sleeping baby!"). But the words that haunted me after Chica came involved something less blunt. 

Mothers love sharing the story of the moments they first meet their new little ones. So many women stared off in a love-induced haze as they told me their tale of laboring for hours, enduring the surgery of C-section, and finally being handed the person that had been grown inside their bodies for upwards of 10 months.

"Pure joy."

"I fell in love instantly."

"It's as though I always knew him, that he'd always been apart of my life."

"I didn't know I had more love in my heart. But it's as though my heart grew bigger the day I first held her."

So imagine my surprise, after 2 days of off-and-on labor and 2 hours of pushing, finally being handed my first baby. And I felt....nothing. Well, that's not true. I felt many things. I felt tired, I felt overwhelmed, I felt relieved, and I did feel a certain peace that the hard part was over. But as the doctor handed over my beautiful little girl, I waited for those feelings to flood me. The joy, the love, the elation. 

And they never came.

This is Chica and I the day after she was born.
This is the picture of a Mom who was scared out of her mind,
with no clue what she was doing.

A few days later, we made the scariest drive ever in our lives: we brought our baby home. And then the roller coaster began: several weeks of complete inadequacy. We had no idea what we were doing, and questioned several times a day why anyone in their right minds would entrust us with a child and send us into the world to fend for ourselves. She cried. We cried. She didn't sleep. We didn't sleep. Those first few weeks were the most emotional and exhausting times I've ever experienced in my life. I did not struggle with post-partum depression, but I was most definitely blue. And I think women need to realize that those struggles, those emotions? ARE REAL, and many of us struggle with them.

Those first few weeks, Chica was my responsibility. It was how I thought of her. She was my charge, and it was up to me (and Hubby) to make sure she was fed, clothed, clean, changed and safe. It was overwhelming. In the beginning, there was no room for love. And I will be very honest: I did not enjoy those first few weeks. I did not enjoy her. But I knew my responsibility, and commitment. And I carried on. 

Because that's what moms do. 

They struggle, they survive, they thrive.

Time passed. Hubby and I became more acquainted with what it meant to be parents, what it meant to always be in the presence of this little person. We knew how to change diapers, learned what her cries meant, and knew what needs to meet.

And you know what happened?

Love grew.

I don't know when it happened. Because that's the funny thing about love: it takes time. Love grows, slowly but surely, in the hidden places, almost undetected. Then one day you wake up, and you look upon this baby, your baby, and there it is: 


You say to no one, "I love her." And you mean it. 

You truly mean it.

Love grows. 

It just takes time.

So all you new Mommas out there? Relax. Cut yourself some slack. You are enduring one of the biggest, most challenging transitions life will ever throw you. It is hard. For everyone. It's not just you. Everyone struggles. We all cried. A lot. For a long time. Sometimes I still cry. But things change. It gets better. You get better. And while it may take longer than you might think, Love will come.

Love. Will. Come.


  1. You are soooo right! I wish I had read this before I gave birth. No one and I mean NO ONE told me about what those first few weeks would be like. I was so blue and breastfeeding was so hard and I was exhausted and I definitely questioned feeling love for her. Now...four short months later those few weeks are a blur and a distant hazy memory. I'm still in the thick of it but my heart is bursting with love.

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