Friday, May 9, 2014

Learning to Love

Sometimes I feel like we sanitize the world too much. In this world of instant reactions, I feel that people get too easily hurt. You have to really think before you hit the share button on something on Facebook out of fear that it might hurt one person on your friends list. I refuse to be that person. If I don’t agree with something someone says, I scroll right past it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and types of humor. Last week, though, something was circulated on many of the pages I follow that stopped me in my tracks. I felt like someone had punched me and all the wind had been knocked right out.

Here’s the meme (I’m not sure who to give credit to, so if you know please submit the link in the comments):

Innocuous enough to most people, but, for me, it unearthed a year of sadness and guilt.

I didn’t have that moment. When BooBoo Bear came, I didn’t feel any connection to him. There, in my arms was a baby. I was told he was my baby. I was told he was beautiful. I was told that I was so lucky. But I didn’t believe them. I didn’t know how to believe them.

In all fairness, my pregnancy with BooBoo was hard. They found a complication with my body early on (a large cyst on my right ovary) that caused me to retain water and be in constant pain in my abdomen. We were broke and struggling to get Medicaid (I hate that process. It took me, at 8 ½ months pregnant, in tears in the Medicaid office for the clerks to finally help me and expedite the paperwork through after 5 months of trying).  The birth itself was also difficult. Someday I’ll go through the whole thing in detail but the highlights include induction, 2 failed epidurals, a doctor who had no compassion, and zero sleep. Not exactly conducive to a warm and fuzzy moment when my giant 10 pounder finally made his appearance. Yes, you read that right, 10 pounds.

“It’s OK,” I told myself, “you’ll be able to bond in the morning.” But I never got to. I woke up from my drug induced sleep (I hadn’t slept in 3 months) to the news that BooBoo had been moved to the NICU in the night. I’ll also go into more details about being a NICU parent later on, but suffice it to say, that was our home for 4 days.

Holding my baby, trying to get around wires, and listening to the machines monitoring him, I struggled to find that connection. By this point, I knew he was mine. The pain my body was in didn't let me believe anything else. I just couldn't feel that love that was supposed to instantly come.

I waited for a year. I prayed, I cried, I begged for that moment; but all I got was a renewed sense of guilt. I wanted to hand the baby to his mother. I wanted to go back to my job and care for other people’s children. This precious angel, I felt, deserved so much better than me. I fed him (we breastfed for a year), I changed his diapers, I kissed him, I held him, I said “I love you BooBoo”, anything I could to try to stimulate that instinct in me.

The church we were attending at that time was populated with other young couples and their babies. Every Sunday, in women’s meeting, I got to hear the other moms talk about “the moment”. The one they had when they realized that they loved their kid fiercely. Every Sunday it was reaffirmed how broken I was- in my eyes. I knew that no one knew what was going through my head and I was too stubborn to let them in. When BooBoo was 10 months old, I finally told McGee. I broke down and sobbed in his arms. I knew he didn’t know how to fix me, but I also knew that I had to tell someone.

Somehow, that admittance turned over a new page for me. Suddenly, I started to feel tiny flickers of love as I watched BooBoo play. There were moments where I could sense warmth growing inside; and then, one day, I realized I could say I loved him without the guilt. I finally, finally, meant it.

BooBoo, some day you may read this, and I want you to know that that love has NEVER wavered. I don't regret having you and I am so proud of the little boy you are becoming. You 're a big and very important part of this family and I want you to ALWAYS remember that.
I love you son.

I write this not to be pitied, not to be told that “it’s OK that happened”, but to try to reach out to the other women out there who struggle. You’re not alone. It’s OK that you’d rather be at work. It’s OK that there are mothers who have to work who resent you for staying home when all you want to be is them. It’s OK that you didn't look down into your angel's eyes and immediately feel a connection. It will come, and it will be so worth it. You are still a good mom and you are still a good person. I send hugs to you this Mother’s Day, mama. It will be alright.


  1. This is a beautiful story Hannah. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hannah, I think we are kindred spirits. My daughter is now four and people are always pestering me about having more children. Some people will just never understand.
    We may not be like the majority of mommies, but we are awesome ones! Never let anyone tell you differently!

    1. I remember the first time I saw someone say that they struggled this way. I felt SO relieved that I wasn't alone. So glad I found a virtual twinner :)We're our own types of mommies, and that's OK,

  3. A very close friend of mine recently told me that it's okay to not be okay. It was a completely different situation than this, but I think it applies here also. No one should be ashamed to not be okay. You just have to remember that someday, somehow, everything will be okay. In the mean time, you just have to do the best you know how to do. :)

  4. Hannah, I'm no good at written replies. I've always been better with the verbal side of things, as you know well. :) But I'm so proud of you for sharing this! You went through a lot to learn to love your son, and one day he should feel incredibly privileged. Most kids moms love them just because they exist. But your son will know you love him because you WANTED to, more than anything else in this world. He will know that you made it a priority in your life to learn to feel that love for him. What a lucky little boy. :)

  5. I'm so glad you made the decision to love even when you didn't feel the love. That is love--choosing to love without the feelings. Because every mom will have a time when children say something mean or are not kind, and you don't feel the overwhelming gushy love; yet we still have to choose to love--and to do hard things because we love. I'm also glad the feeling came, and your son has a special momma.