During the skin-to-skin time after Millie was born, all the chaos was over and the doctor and the nurses all left and Benn and I were alone in the room – with this brand new, helpless, miniature human that we had no idea what to do with. I can’t believe they left us alone with her! I hope the nurse comes back soon! I actually said that out loud, and Benn laughed and agreed. No one has a clue what they’re doing with their first baby, but I also felt like it was odd that I didn’t really know this person. What was I supposed to say to her? What was I supposed to feel?
It’s not that I didn’t feel any connection to her – she’d grown inside me for nine months and I’d felt her kick and move. I knew when she liked to be active. I knew how to care for her inside me by taking the right vitamins and avoiding the proper things. I immediately wanted to do what was best for her and make her feel safe. I cared deeply for her. But I still didn’t know her.
This feeling I’m talking about today is different from the disconnected feeling I had with my postpartum mental health issues. It’s more of a social reaction than a mental or emotional one. As humans, we form relationships through experiences. In this situation, a stranger that I’d met 48 hours earlier (on this side of the cervix) moved into my house and demanded my attention. Sort of like your freshman roommate at college, but you can’t borrow each others’ clothes. Okay, so you didn’t change your roommate’s diapers either, but you get the point I’m trying to make.
I had a feeling I would feel this way throughout my entire pregnancy. When my pregnant friends were saying how in love they were with their unborn babies, I was still thinking of Millie as a fetus. That may sound harsh to some, but it was how I viewed the situation. I thought of her as a special fetus that I had strong feelings about and wanted to protect. I was excited to meet this particular fetus when she was born. But I was still mostly focused on the pregnancy, not the baby, if that makes sense. I felt guilty that I didn’t have the same feelings as my friends and blamed it on the fact that I had a lot going on with moving to Cleveland and changing my antidepressants.
Similar story when she was born. I immediately thought she was awesome and wanted to do everything I could for her. My maternal instincts to take care of her kicked in, but my social instinct was to feel sort of awkward with her. Strangely, it felt like she’d always been here, but I had no idea who she was. Lucky for me, Millie was more comfortable with me than I was with her right off the bat and she taught me the ropes. We are still getting used to each other, but we’re learning more every day.
I realize now that I’ll never be an over-the-top, ooey gooey, baby-talking mommy, but I am learning how to be the mother-version-of-myself. I think I am actually very maternal, even if it doesn’t come with all the frills that may be expected. There’s absolutely no reason to feel guilty that my motherhood experience looks different than anyone else’s (or if it’s different from what I’ve been lead to believe is normal). I know Millie and I will have a special bond that looks exactly like it’s supposed to for the two of us, and for our family. I’m learning who Millie is as a one month old human and am excited to support her through the seasons of her life. It took me a while to realize and feel it, but I love her – and after a month of getting to know her serious little newborn personality and perfect face, I really mean that❤️
Baby wearing has been crucial to my first month with Millie. She loves it and it’s been a great way for me to feel close to her, physically and emotionally. I swear, wearing her gets all sorts of feel-good chemicals flowing in my brain, so I can only imagine how great it is for her and her development! The Lalabu Soothe Shirt is a super easy way to wear a newborn. The sleeveless top features a front pocket that can hold a baby up to 15 lb – no straps or wrapping necessary. While this is not a hands-free carrier, Millie feels cozy and comfortable in it, with her arms out or tucked in. Definitely a fabulous way to get started with baby wearing – and to jumpstart that special momma-baby bond (no matter what that looks and feels like for you!).