in·fat·u·at·ed, adjective, verb (used with object)
to inspire or possess with a foolish or unreasoning passion, as of love.
here is something about me that i inwardly cringe to admit: i don't fall in love with my babies the moment i lay eyes on them. i have read countless birth stories over the years and it seems that in everyone else's story, the mother feels this enormous surge of maternal love and devotion for her newborn from the moment they are placed on her chest. they talk about how beautiful their babies are, how with one look into their innocent little eyes they feel as if they've known each other all along. and then the blissful babymoon begins, with the mother on cloud 9, or even 10, radiant and awestruck at this precious miracle that has been entrusted to her care. not so with me.
i didn't find my newborn babies beautiful; i found them odd looking in a sort of squished-up-alien way. i didn't feel that surge of maternal love at all. i felt more fear and terror than anything. i've never experienced a babymoon, though i don't doubt that they exist. i can remember my first night in the hospital after tristan was born, not knowing what to do to make him stop crying. the nurse in charge of doing his hearing test came and must have seen my exhaustion and confusion because she took him away for a couple of hours and i felt such relief when he left that i started to cry. then i felt guilty for feeling that way, and cried because of that. when the nurse brought him back into my room, he was fast asleep and wrapped snugly like a burrito. i stared and stared at him for a long time as he slept, wondering why i felt so empty inside and drained of all excitement at his arrival. i cannot say that i didn't love him . . .i don't think i had a choice in that matter, but it wasn't the fluttery sort of loving feelings that i was expecting to have. those came later and grew with time.
i have had a similar experience with ava. initially, her looks surprised me. (i was expecting a petite little brown haired girl and not an enormous bald headed one! ) her cries confused me. i would hold her and try to soothe her and feel as if she was a complete stranger to me. . . i didn't know her well enough to figure out how to help her. even though she wanted to be as close to me as possible at all times, i thought she didn't like me. these ridiculous thoughts were too embarassing to admit. after all, she was my 3rd baby, so i should be a pro at this by now. i hated to be apart from her not because i missed her so much, but because she needed me so much and i knew that she would just be screaming for her mama the entire time i was away.
gradually over time, i've come to know each one of my babies and had the chance to fall deeper and deeper in love with them. what begins for me as an instinctual love (the urge to feed and protect and soothe) slowly develops into such a strong bond that i can't stop thinking about them.
i can say that i am now quite literally infatuated with all three of my children, ava being the newest one to cause my heart to skip a beat. i find it impossible to hold her without kissing her, to hug her without smelling the top of her head, to look at her without doing whatever i can to coax a smile from her lips. back in my darkest days of her infancy, my mom was on the phone one day telling me about the cutest little girl things she had seen at a certain store. unable to gain any sort of perspective on the situation i was in, i found it absurd and almost laughable that one day i'd actually be enjoying perusing gifts and toys for my daughter's first birthday. and yet here we are now, 2 months away from her turning 1 and i find it absurd and almost laughable that last fall, i was not able to derive much enjoyment from mothering her. . .enjoyment that i now receive over and over and over again daily.
i don't think i will ever really understand the whole babymoon experience, but that's okay. perhaps i can appreciate the intense passion i now feel all the more, remembering how it didn't start out that way.