Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Who is this?"

Who is this person taking me away from my family?

I don't even know him.

I'm here. Alone. With him. 

He's crying. What do I do?

I know he's mine, but I don't even know who he is.

I've gone over these thoughts over and over in my head since my counselor asked me what I remembered about my immediate post-partum experience. At the time, nearly four months ago, I told her that I remember feeling relieved that Glenn had three weeks off work, that we had time to adapt to being a family of four, that it was so much nicer than when he had to go back to work the night we came home with Beanie.

And then I thought about it some more. Bubby was born at 3:43 A.M. Sometime before six my sister (who was staying with Beanie) called Glenn's phone. Glenn was asleep while I was sitting there holding Bubby. I answered the phone; we had told my sister to call if there were problems. Beanie was hysterical. She hadn't slept well and my sister couldn't get her to go back to sleep. She was crying, saying she wanted me, saying she needed me, she couldn't sleep. She missed me. Oh, I missed her too. I woke Glenn up and told him to go home.

Then I sat there alone with my new son. I was anxious. I cried. I called the nurse for help with diaper changes, burping him, calming him, everything. I wanted to know Beanie was okay. I wanted Glenn there with me. I knew we were a family of four now and we had to take care of both our children, but I so wanted to be with the family I knew. This little guy? Who was he?

I worked to remember the nuances of nursing a newborn. I looked at my son and marveled at how much he looked like his sister. How he was smaller than I thought he would be. How he had blonde hair and blue eyes just like his sister. I held him and cuddled him. But, who was he? I didn't know him and I was entirely responsible for him?

I made the decision not to be discharged later that day, to wait until the next morning. I don't know if it was the right decision, but it sure seemed like it at the time. We had been up for over 24 hours when Bubby was born and I hadn't slept much after his birth either. I felt like one more night at the hospital might be a good idea. Looking back, things were so much easier when I was able to come home and be with my family, my whole family. I wonder if we would have been better served coming home that same day. Surely there were no complications to keep us there.

That night was difficult as well. It was quiet, just me and Bubby. Glenn and Beanie had stayed most of the day, some family had come to visit, my sister came again later that night. But, as it was dark and evening fell it was just Bubby and I. I was alone with this little person I barely knew.

I felt really bad about all this until a friend commented on my Life Lessons from my Children post that she hadn't felt love at first sight either. It clicked that it was okay I didn't feel this immediate connection with Bubby. Of course, our attachment has grown by leaps and bounds over the last year.

I wonder how things would have been different if I'd given birth at a birth center, had a home birth, etc. If I'd gone home the day he was born. If...if....if. I know I'll never know. I'm not sure it matters. In fact, I'm sure it doesn't. I love my son and I can't imagine life without him. And I'm learning to accept that it's okay it wasn't love at first sight.


  1. The "if" can be such a energy drain. You're right, it is a process to let that go and to accept things as they are, as they've become.

  2. Kristen - This is such an honest and beautiful post. It is remarkable how different each bonding experience can be. For me, it has been different with each of my children. The circumstances surrounding each birth was very similar (I'd even say it was as close to identical as it can get) but the bonding was still different. I've experienced "love at first sight" and also that love that took time to grow. I think each experience is special in its own way, but, looking back on it, I appreciate the love that took time to grow because it was based entirely on getting to know my daughter, learning who she is, and loving her for this. I remember looking at her soon after she was born and thinking, "Who is this person? I don't really know her," but that's the beauty of it. I'm her mother and it has been my privilege to find out. :)

  3. Thank you for being so honest. I've only ever told my mom this, but the first thing that went through my head when I saw Ben after a traumatic, long labor and delivery was "Oh my God, he's evil." I didn't realize it at the time but I was probably in a deep depression that was to worsen over time. Fortunately I had the joy of experiencing love at first sight with Jack (my first thought when I saw him was "He's SO sweet!") What an amazing feeling. I love them both, I love them a lot, and I love them in very different ways because they are very different little boys; one is just like me and the other is Erik's clone. Learning to accept all of this as being OK is a big step toward being a grown-up, I think. Thanks for letting me babble.

  4. It is so good for people to know this is normal! Thanks for sharing this honest post! :)

  5. I had a very different birth experience and it still took a little while to be comfortable with my new role with Spunky. Probably happened when Spunky as hospitalized at 5 weeks old and we didn't know if things would be okay or not. I still sometimes have to remind myself that sick at 5 weeks doesn't make a sickly child.


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