i’m sure this post will have some rambling issues, since i thought through the bulk of it at 4 am, while sitting on the couch with zoe. bear with me though.
i am not so proud to admit, i was not a mother who fell in love with her child immediately. sure, i cried when she was born, i was so overwhelmed with love for her. and then something happened. it was another 16 hours before i could even see her, and even then, it was few and far between. i don’t think i really got a chance to “be” with zoe before we came home from the hospital. when i visited her in the NICU, the visits were so crammed with trying to breastfeed her, asking the nurses questions… trying to fit all our time together into a 2 hour stretch was nearly impossible. and to top that, the 4 days i was in the hospital, when it was easiest for me to go down and see her, i was hooked up to an IV, and couldn’t stay in the NICU longer than just being able to feed her. she nursed so slowly, and fell asleep so often that to feed her truly took an hour and a half. so, after a week of this, zoe came home.
we were truly unprepared for the effort that goes into a newborn’s first few weeks, and i struggled with serious frustration at zoe for a good week. understand, this was fueled by sleeplessness, and feeling helpless to console her. i felt like there was nothing i could do to make her happy, i didnt understand what she needed, and why she would seem so unhappy all the time. i felt like a pitiful excuse for a mom, since i couldn’t seem to get breastfeeding down, and we were still supplementing with formula.
but things changed. slowly, i started understanding what she needed when she cried after eating. she needed to be burped a little longer, and have her diaper changed. and when she woke up crying after sleeping for 30 minutes, she just needed me to hold her, and maybe walk some laps in the hallway. my frustration started abating, but my feelings for her were truly no more than “wow, she’s a cute kid. she’s really got a sweet temperament when she’s not crying.” i told spencer i was really afraid things wouldn’t change, and that i would feel distant from her forever. once again, i worried that temporary situations (similar to when i thought i would be pregnant forever) would become permanent ones.
this weekend, zoe turned 5 weeks old. and i realized i’ve fallen in love. it wasn’t this weekend, i’m sure it built up before then. but this was the time i finally realized it. holding her on the couch at 2 am, i’m not feeling frustration anymore at my lack of sleep. i’m rejoicing in the fact that i get to hold her. and i’m thinking of the days when she’ll tell me, maybe not with words, that she’s ready to feed herself. and i’m cherishing the moments i get to enjoy that sweet face. beyond the superficial “falling in love,” my heart is full of a feeling that i’ve never felt before. something akin to a fierce adoration, protection, an active love that i’ve never experienced. everything i’m doing with her is fueled from this love, love that makes me get up when she starts crying at 3 am, and rejoice that she’s with us. i can’t say i don’t have my nights where i’m truly exhausted, and really not wanting to get out of bed. but when i do, and i see that face, my heart melts, and all i want to do is comfort her, and make sure she knows she’s loved. loved beyond what i ever understood was possible.
i’m sure this post seems unnecessary to some, but it was for me. the catharsis of admitting that love grows and cannot be forced. and that it’s okay for it to have taken some time. and that every day, i’m going to love her a little more, in different ways. the necessity of laying on the table my failings, and how i’m growing.