|My friend Nikki with her little boy|
I don't know about you, but I had a strong image in my head of how I would fall in love with my baby. Yes I loved my baby in the womb, but whilst a baby is inside there is so much uncertainty. You don't truly know what will happen, what your baby will be like.
I only really considered a labour. Working hard to bring my baby into the world. Hot, sweaty, in pain, and finally the baby emerging, being placed on my chest and with my husband's hand around my shoulders, getting to know this brand new life. Feeling the rush of love, the release of hormones as breast milk is let down, slowly getting to know this lovely new life, this precious baby.
When your baby is born sick and/or premature, the above is not the reality. For me birth was as highly medicalised as it can get. I didn't see my baby when he was born. I didn't know him. Possibly the hardest thing was, he had never seen me. The first person who held him wasn't me. He was placed on a table and worked on, putting up the fight of his life, the first of many.
I chose to love.
I could have chosen to shut off, to wait and see. And some parents do, and that's ok too. Self protection is a natural instinct.
I had this strong instinct to just love him, and to bond. I felt a strong attachment to him straight away. Even though I didn't even see my first picture of him til 2pm. He was born at 10am.
Love is hard work. It's about truth, about honesty and about faith. When your faith in everything has been shattered by premature birth, or giving birth to a baby who is sick, that love can be interrupted.
One of my favourite things I have ever written is this post for the Independent, Motherhood Interrupted
I'd love to hear your thoughts, my reader. Did you love your baby straight away? Was it a decision or completely natural?
I strongly believe that the decision to love Joseph was the best one I ever made. Whatever regrets I have about his birth and early months take a back seat to those precious memories of loving him, as he was and as he is.