On falling in love with a child...
While I loved David from the start, I do not remember feeling “in love” with him during the early days. In the beginning, he felt like a stranger. He didn’t seem to know me, and I didn’t feel like he was my child. It wasn’t like I felt unprepared and was expecting his “real” mother to show up. I just didn’t feel very bonded. However, when he seemed upset or in danger, I definitely felt a motherly instinct kick in, and I guess that’s how I knew that I loved him.
People talk about cherishing those first moments and snuggling with the baby a lot. Well, he was not very able to be snuggled for the first week, as he was in the NICU. We were actually allowed to hold him, but it wasn’t the coziest environment. And we had to “scrub in” each time, wear a smock, etc.
Once at home, it seemed like he wanted to EAT all the time. Whenever he was done eating I would generally hand him off, because I was afraid that being near me would make him want to eat again! Supposedly they can’t see very far, but I swear I would walk by and he would suddenly lift his head up and start looking around. I called him “beady eyes” because it was like I couldn’t hide from him!
We got one of those wraps for babywearing, but it was summer, and again…the minute I’d get him in it he would start fussing and acting like he wanted to eat.
So I really didn’t do a lot of cuddling in the beginning. I wanted to, but I needed to do other things in-between feedings, like brush my teeth and try to otherwise take care of myself.
At some point things changed. He started sleeping longer at night and I would miss him and want to spend more time with him during the day, even standing over his bed admiring him while he was asleep. He started eating a little less often and it wasn’t as awkward to hold him once he could hold his head up. He can actually be quite snuggly these days! Though I still need to put him down if I’m going to get anything else done, I love holding him for longer. He gets more and more interactive. It’s an ego trip, in a way, when a little person is just so easy to please (most of the time) and so excited to see you.
When I started enjoying him more, I knew they were right about “it gets better.” Sleeping through the night is overrated, but watching a child grow and develop is a pretty special way to spend your days, or even just a few moments. I found myself pondering what fun it must be to be a grandparent. ;)