Friday, April 12, 2013
Love Is a Strange Thing
I have several pregnancy apps on my iPhone. I have a book about pregnancy. I participate in a pregnancy online forum. It might seem like an overload of information, but some of it is repetitive. Especially the format addressing any discomforts that Mom has to face seems uniform: "You might be experiencing severe nausea and vomiting, and possibly will need to get fluids via IV to prevent dehydration, but don't worry - your baby is fine!" Or: "Your baby is pushing on your lungs and you feel out of breath, but fortunately your baby is not aware of this."
I understand that the health of the baby is the most important thing. In theory. In reality, I am still concerned about me. I am concerned about the kid I already have and how is it going to effect him when Mommy is unable to eat or breathe. It angers me that the woman carrying the child is pushed to the side, because oh well, pregnancy can be pesky, but of course she should only be grateful. I don't understand the logic behind the "don't complain, there are people who have it worse than you." It's nice to see things put in perspective and realize how lucky we are once in a while. But I am tired of having to apologize for feeling bad or complaining about that.
Here is a confession that might be shocking to many. I don't love the baby yet. I have an incredibly strong protective instinct. If there is any harm approaching my stomach, I immediately think about protecting the baby first. But that doesn't mean I feel the kind of love towards it that I feel towards Kai, or Peter, or many others in my life.
It was the same when I was pregnant with Kai. I felt terribly guilty for the lack of positive emotions that I was told every pregnant woman experiences. I did not talk to the belly and neither did Peter. So far it doesn't seem that Kai has been damaged by the lack of intrauterine conversation. The kicks and movements made me smile, as they do now. I know there is a little human being in there. But I have not met her. I don't know her. And I don't love her yet.
I thought having a child now and knowing how much love his existence brings to my life would change things this time around. It did not. I love the image of the future us. I love seeing the four of us together in my mind. But loving the image is not the same as loving the person. I am able to say this out loud today, because I am a parent now and I know things will change. I don't feel guilty the way I felt when I was pregnant with Kai, because I know now that I am a good parent. The fact that I did not love Kai when he was growing in my belly has nothing to do with the fact that I love him beyond anything in this world today.
And because I know that I am a good parent to my child, I also know that it is OK to feel the way I am describing and it is OK to say it. Maybe there is another Mom out there who feels the same way, but she is just as ashamed, full of guilt and full of doubt as I once was, and she is being told over and over that the fact that she is struggling doesn't matter, because fortunately, the baby doesn't suffer and is unaware.
Baby doesn't have to know. But maybe you should. So that you can tell that Mom that she is not alone. That she matters, at least just as much as the baby does. That she has your support, because she will be supporting her family from now on and forever. And that if she wants to, she can complain, even if there are people in this world who have it worse than her.