Confession time: I never was a 'love at first sight' kinda gal. Not when it came to my husband (Lord knows, the poor guy had to work for it) and (brace yourself) not when it came to my babies.
Ok Moms, before you start angrily judging me and possibly hurling diaper bags and umbrella strollers in my direction, at least just hear me out.
At this moment, I love my children more than anything. And I promise, I'm not just saying that to avoid being assaulted by a flying tube of Desitin. My boys are the absolute most important things to me in the world. For them, I would take a bullet, or lift a car, or throw myself in front of a speeding train, or any number of those superhuman, self-sacrificial feats preformed by mothers through the ages. And I would do it without giving it a second thought.
But, when I was lying exposed and exhausted in the delivery room with my insides leeking onto the floor, I did not feel that overwhelming affection and immediate indescribable bond that I had read about and seen on countless episodes of TLC's Baby Story.
In my defense, both my boys arrived 9 weeks early, well ahead of schedule. This is not a trait they inherited from their procrastinating, chronically tardy mother. Therefore, in both cases, my babies were promptly whisked from my womb and into an adjacent recovery room filled with doctors and nurses specializing in neonatology. I was then allowed only a brief peek at the impossibly tiny little creatures before they were tucked away in incubators and wheeled down the hall to the neonatal ICU where they would spend the first several weeks of their lives.
With my first son, I remember my first thought as we stared at each other for the first time -- in baffled disbelief -- was how closely he resembled his father. My second thought was, did I really just think that? Then my mind wandered off to something I had read or heard once about babies initially resembling their fathers as some kind of primitive paternity test ... This thought led to snippets of evolutionary gender differences from a social psych class; and from there, who knows. Point being, I was *not* basking the in my newly achieved motherhood status and glowing with admiration.
I do remember feeling baffled, overwhelmed, and abruptly emotional. Mostly, after both deliveries, I just laid there and cried. I did feel accomplished for having delivered my babies naturally and without the small comforts offered by an epidural or other drugs (because I fancy myself a badass). I suppose this is less impressive with 3 and 4 pound babies, but consider that my oldest was breech. Now maybe you're impressed?? But no. I do not remember feeling overcome by undying love for this new life I had just expelled from my nether regions.
Even the days following the deliveries when my boys were deemed stable enough to be held, I still felt more bewildered than infatuated. Collecting the delicate little bodies and their various leads and sensors into my comparatively enormous monster arms amid the beeps and buzzes of monitors, initially felt more like a bizarre 10th grade lab experiment than the start of an indescribable love connection.
When I first held my oldest son, the nurse smiled at me and said, 'kisses are encouraged.' I pressed my lips to the top of his head, out of a sense of obligation more than anything else, and was alarmed to realize that it felt a little like kissing a stranger.
Don't get me wrong. I was quite *fond* of my babies. I was a dutiful NICU mom: my boobs were practically fused to my hospital grade breast pump, I visited 3 times a day to help with meals and diaper changes, I even parked myself next to my oldest's bedside for a 24 hour stretch when he wasn't taking bottles well and we were desperate to bring him home -- during that period I even turned into one of those moms and had some choice words with one of the neonatologists.
I can't tell you the exact moment when I felt my heart melt and realized that my happiness would now forever be tied to their happiness. What I can tell you is that while I may not been jolted by cupid's arrow, my affections were indeed -- are indeed -- very real and growing by the minute. That awkward first kiss on the top of the head has morphed into a thousand kisses and cuddles and more hugs and nuzzles than any toddler or baby could ever tolerate without eventually ending up in therapy. I see my boys and my heart swells and thumps in my chest to the point that sometimes I wonder if maybe I shouldn't see a cardiologist.
I am amazed and enamored with even their tiniest accomplishments. Get this: my oldest boy reached up on his tiptoes and dropped his plate in the sink yesterday after dinner ended and I was almost beside myself with pride and affection. Only a crazy person -- or a mother -- would become so giddy over this small achievement.
I'll probably stroke out when he graduates college.
So if we're comparing the onset of the love I feel for my boys to natural phenomenons, mine was less like a bolt of laughing and more like a tidal wave. It started with a ripple and is growing in size, headed to shore and ready to cause some serious devastation on some unsuspecting fishing villages (in that analogy, I think the fishing villages are my children...so we might need to alert FEMA that my kids will need some MREs and drinking water by the time I'm through with them)
I may not be a 'love at first sight' sorta gal; but I do believe that I have plenty of love and affection for my babies to actually pull off this whole mom-thing.
Because if we didn't love them so deeply, whether it's immediate or gradual, then what's the point?
Happy Valentine's Day, people. Go enjoy some over-priced roses, binge out on unnecessary chocolate, wait three hours for a table at a mediocre restaurant, bitch about the absurdity of the holiday...and for God-sakes, give your kids a monster-sized hug.