You can read from the start here
After having Boo, I focussed on everything and anything so that I didn’t have to face the fact that the rush of love had not materialised. I focussed on breastfeeding and making sure I did it right. I focussed on folding laundry so that Boo’s nursery looked perfect. I held Boo constantly so she felt loved even though I couldn’t feel it. When we had visitors, I took the time to wipe surfaces in the kitchen so they didn’t see that I was a fraud and didn’t love my daughter. Busy, busy, busy. No time to stop and think.
The morning after having Boo, I was desperate to be discharged. I didn’t want to be found out. I wanted to get home in the hopes that something might click into place.
I sat in the back with Boo like I was supposed to. I stared at her face hoping that I might start to recognise her. Really I just wanted to sit up front with my husband because he made me feel safe and right at that moment I felt anything but safe. I felt afraid, alone and empty. Not the warm and cosy feelings I had been anticipating.
I was already under the care of the perinatal team (they deal with maternal mental health) due to my highly stressful pregnancy. They had told me to expect a big hit of hormones on day 3. They told me I would probably be very emotional and tearful but it was normal. They told me it would pass within a couple of weeks. So when I got home and still felt no rush of love, I actually eagerly anticipated day 3. My rationale was that the big wave of emotion would kick my brain back into gear and the love would finally emerge.
During this time, I started to get very anxious about Boo. I worried that she would know that her mother’s love was lacking and it would affect her. So I did everything I could to make her feel loved. I held her constantly and fed her round the clock. I didn’t leave her side and barely let even my husband hold her. I worried I was doing everything wrong – I thought motherhood would come naturally to me but since the rush of love hadn’t occurred, I lost confidence in my ability to mother and did not trust my instincts. Was she too hot? Was she too cold? Did she feed enough? Was she pooing too much? Was that weird noise her struggling to breathe?
And then I woke up and it was day 3. I waited for the tears. I begged them to come. A good cry always makes me feel better. I could have a good cry, hug my husband and smile through the snotty tears. That would make it all better. I remember trying to think of things that would make me cry. But my tear ducts remained like my heart: empty. When in my life have my tear ducts been so arid? I’ve always been a crier. Why would the tears not flow now? My husband was being so sweet and saying he was proud of me coping so well. Little did he know that even though I was smiling, inside I was devastated that there was yet more evidence that I was a fraud. I didn’t even get the day 3 blues. Was I that much of a terrible mother that I just didn’t care at all?
In the evening, we watched a movie: Boyhood. It shows a boy grow over 12 years. I tried to imagine Boo grow over 12 years and I couldn’t picture it. I couldn’t picture her and I couldn’t picture me. I cried because I was terrified. I finally cried. But I knew they were fraudulent tears. They weren’t the tears I should be crying. I was crying because I was making such a mess of motherhood and had no idea who my daughter was.
In the days that followed, I had a few tears. But mainly I felt numb and I felt like the tears were about me. Selfish tears at my failings. Not tears for my daughter. I realise now that it doesn’t even make sense. But I just felt like I was letting everyone down. Especially Boo. I felt like she deserved so much more. So much better.
I was so busy worrying and filling my head with clutter so I didn’t have to really think. If I had stopped to think, I would have found a kernel developing at the core of my being. A seed that was taking root. With every moment I spent staring at her face, I knew her better and loved her more. But I was too busy worrying and cluttering my mind with thoughts to notice the fresh green leaves reaching for the sun; the new hope and joy in my life: love like no other. It was there, I just didn’t recognise it yet. It took me a long time to see it.