“We’re So In Love” “It was love at first sight”
It’s a basic part of every single new baby Instagram post that you see across the internet. From huge influencers to your neighbor down the street. Everyone tells you about their “magical” experience when the baby arrived. That the love was instant and overwhelming. They all proclaim love at first sight.
And if you’re being honest with yourself, that’s not actually how you felt.
Maybe you are feeling guilty or even some shame if this wasn’t what you experienced. But the reality is…that only actually happens for a small percentage of people. There are better chances that the person writing that caption is actually just saying it because that is what they feel like they have to say.
It’s much more likely that, while you were excited to meet the life you had just spent months creating, you looked down at this kind-of alien looking being that just came out of you and wondered “what did I just do?”
And then you jumped into full-time caring for this being while also learning to deal with your new body (because no matter which way this baby came out of you, either vaginally, or through cesarean, your body is not the same). As much as you want to be “in love” with your new baby, sometimes this isn’t the first thing going through your mind as you figure out feedings, diaper changes, getting pooped and spit up on, and how to handle getting woken up multiple times a night.
This isn’t a Fairy Tale
This isn’t some perfect disney fairy tale that has princesses swooning and falling in love with a prince in negative 3 seconds. Human connection takes time in real life. It’s completely normal that you didn’t fall in love instantly, or within the first few days, possibly even weeks or months. There is no timeline for easing into loving one another.
To put it into perspective, your baby only really knows you by the sound of your voice or the smell of breastmilk, they aren’t exactly “in love” with you immediately either. Did you know that babies can attach to anyone in the first few months? Cool, right?
It’s okay to feel guilty about not falling in love within seconds of your birth. There are so many things in this world that will probably give you parental guilt in this life. The first time your temper flares up with your baby because they won’t sleep, or stop crying and you haven’t had a moment of self care to care for yourself. When you wonder if you have let your toddler have too much screen time because work is overwhelming you. But want to know what the difference is between those instances and this love at first sight myth?
This you can’t control. You can’t force yourself to fall in love within seconds if it just isn’t the way your body is wired.
So what can you do if you didn’t instantly fall in love?
Take the time to bond during those early months
You can keep working to bond with your baby now and focus on your baby getting to know them. Feeding, looking into each other’s eyes, observing how they react to different experiences. Do they hate changing clothes or diapers? How do they feel about baths? How do they behave when they are tired? (Want a few tips on sleepy cues to look out for? Read this post.) Whether you gave birth days ago and still don’t feel those feelings, or it’s been months and you have now fallen in love. Focus on getting to know your baby and deepening your relationship during those precious moments together and in no time – that overwhelming, heart-exploding feeling will arrive – and feel like it was always there.
Release the Guilt
You took the time to connect and you love your baby NOW. Now is the best time to focus on giving your little one their best life. And that is what is truly important, not some parenting myth that you should have love at first sight. You can only change what happens next, not what happened in the past. So choose to forgive yourself for not feeling the emotions you wish you had felt right off the bat and focus on what you can do going forward.
Remember for the Future
Guilt might come to visit, but you are the one who can choose what kind of power to give it. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to to fall in love with someone you just met if that’s just not the kind of person you are.
Remember this, falling in love with your baby instantly is not something that happens to most people. Feeling guilty does *not* mean that you ARE guilty so and have my full support (if you need it!) to forgive yourself right now.
If it has been months and you are concerned about your bond with your baby reach out to a professional for help – this could be a sign of something more. Always trust your own intuition and knowledge of yourself and your little one.