[Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from Kimberly from the blog All Work & No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something. Without further ado, here’s her first post for Postpartum Progress. -Katherine]
When the furnace kicked on, the curtains began to flutter, casting shadows that danced across the room. I watched as his chest deeply and rhythmically rose and fell with every breath. His pudgy toes peeked from under the covers and the way his soother barely hung to one side of his mouth were sure indications of sweet toddler dreams. I felt at such peace watching him sleep.
I always do.
I stood there quietly for a while longer in the doorway, amazed at how this powerful fleeting moment could still sweep me off my feet. In two short years, this little soul has made my heart swell with so much love. When I catch myself in these loving moments, I give thanks because this love didn’t come as easily as I had thought it would.
In fact, two years ago, I never dreamed it possible.
In the minutes that followed after the uneventful birth of my son, I knew that something wasn’t right. I had expected that my heart would have exploded when love, happiness, excitement, fulfillment and relief had all collided into each other after seeing my son for the first time. When that didn’t happen, I felt an immense sadness that wore deeply into my soul.
I felt nothing for him.
The guilt that followed swallowed me whole. I tried desperately to do everything that I thought a loving mother would do. I robotically moved through every motion, every gesture, just to make it appear that I loved him.
So that he would think that I loved him.
As the days turned into weeks, my soul fell apart. I was plagued with intense rage, uncontrollable thoughts that came at me so quickly I could barely process, panic attacks, derealization, and agoraphobia. I had stopped eating and would go more than 24 hours without any sleep.
I was terrified that I was losing my mind, but despite all of that, I was more concerned about not loving my son.
I watched as my family and friends effortlessly melted into a pile of mushy love for him and it pained me so. I felt like a horrible mother for not loving him the way everyone else did.
At six weeks postpartum, on our way to pick up our son after an overnight visit, I cried the entire drive. Not because I missed him, but because I didn’t want to get him. I turned to my husband and asked him one simple question:
“Do you love him?”
When he answered yes, I knew then that I needed help. That following Tuesday, I told my OB that I wasn’t okay. It was the single most hardest and terrifying part in this journey… and the best decision I’ve ever made.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety with agoraphobia.
I don’t remember the exact moment when I fell in love with my son. I can tell you that when this love crept its way in, I fell head over heels for him. Two years later, as I resist the urge to give him one last kiss as he sleeps sweetly, I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s my world.
If you are having a rough time with bonding just know that in any relationship, love takes time. It doesn’t make you a bad mother or person. That love is there even if you don’t feel it. Be patient. It will come. And when it does, it will blow you away.