I remember very clearly the moment I first met Henry. After a fairly easy labor (thankfully), Henry was out into the world, the doctor announced "It's a Boy!" and I broke down in tears for the first time all day. They wrapped him up quickly and laid him on my chest. His eyes met mine and he stopped screaming and just looked at me. And that's the moment I figured it'd happen. But it didn't. It wasn't love at first sight.
He felt a bit like a stranger to me. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. So I just stared back at him. I took in all of his tiny features trying to determine if they looked familiar, if I could see myself or B in him. But I couldn't. He just looked like any other baby I had seen. And in my mind, I began to panic a little. Does this mean I'm already a bad mom? I'm supposed to feel this crazy rush of love, right? Everyone says that this is the most powerful moment of their lives. I'm supposed to feel as if my heart has exploded and I've never known anything like this. But I didn't.
And then I was to breastfeed him. And I had no idea what I was doing. So a nurse helped me and we fumbled around until he latched. And he began to eat and I began to think about how terrible it felt, but we continued to stare at each other, him and I. His eyes told me he knew who I was, and I tried to tell him back that I would take care of him for all the days of my life. But I still didn't feel IT.
Nurses took him this way and that to clean him or weigh him or measure him or test him on whatever it is they were testing him on. And I just laid there on the bed, staring at this mound of a stomach that was now empty, realizing that I too, now felt empty. But somewhere in my brain, I couldn't comprehend that this little person I had just met was the one who had been there just an hour before. Family rushed in and met our new baby boy and they gushed and squeezed and squealed and I just smiled and thought about how glad I was that he was feeling so loved already when I wasn't certain that he was feeling it from me. Through the rest of the night I felt miserable trying to figure out where I went wrong, if I wasn't cut out for motherhood, if I'd ever truly love my child.
That night, the nurses took him to the nursery so both B and I could get sleep. They came in every couple of hours so that I could feed him and then I was to go back to sleep. But I didn't. My mind was racing and I was scared.
The light of the next day peeked through the window, B went home to shower, and the nurses brought Henry to me. They helped me nurse him and then they quietly backed out of the room and left us alone. And it was in that time, in our own silent bubble that I looked down at him and felt IT. He was staring at me with those big blue eyes, the ones I knew he had gotten from me, and he held my finger with his whole fist. I smelled his skin and I cuddled him close to me. His new baby warmth and the feel of his new baby skin, it was overpowering. And I felt IT rush over me like a wave. All of those feelings I had been expecting to feel, they were there. It was like I was hit with a freight train because suddenly I loved so strongly for this tiny person I had known for less than a day.
I think what I had needed in that entire first day was time for just Henry and I to get to know each other. With no one else around, no one looking at me expectantly, no one to talk about how they felt about him. I needed quiet to just be with him. And on that second day when it had calmed, that is when I felt it, that's when my own love at first sight came.