They tell mothers-to-be that they may not feel that motherly attachment to their baby the minute the baby is born. It has a lot to do with hormones, societal expectations, and culture. But they do tell them that the baby may seem foreign and unfamiliar at first, and it may take as long as two weeks or more to become familiar with this new life.
I didn’t take to fatherhood at first. I guess that’s unfair, I took to it just fine, but the minute Jillian was born, I was much more concerned about my wife who had just had a C-section than I was about the little baby. After all, if something happened to the baby, I’d still have Jenn and life would go on, albeit tragically. But if something happened to Jenn, I’d be crushed; devastated without direction.
I guess I could say I loved Jillian on day 1, but the truth is it took a few days to warm up to her. Babies really aren’t much – they don’t really tell you this – but they don’t do anything. They just lay around, sleep, cry, crap, and occasionally feed. They don’t smile, focus, laugh, or express any emotion. They mainly sleep and cry.
As time went on, each day, I’d find myself a little more enamored with baby. Each day, really around 2 months, she started becoming more and more a real person. She started smiling. She stopped crying all the time. She started expressing preference for one person over another. And I realized that I had a nice emotional bond with her.
Around 3 months, she started to actually develop some muscle and was able to hold her own weight on her knees if you balanced her. She chortled her first laughs and started being more comfortable in her own skin. She began to understand diaper changing and bottle preperation.
She just turned 6 months, now entering her 7th, and I just realized – I am paralyzed by how much I love my daughter. Now she sits up and rolls over. She communicates with us in so many ways and understands her surroundings like I never anticpated. She likes playing with the dog. She focuses on the TV and even prefers certain shows. She’s a full fledged person – she’s graduated from baby to infant.
As a new parent, you’re pre-conditioned to think you will love your child in a magical way. But I’m not sure people are capable of turning love on and off like that. Maybe mothers, who have a different kind of bond with an in utero child, but certain fathers are challenged to go from 0-60 on day 1. But the truth is, it doesn’t take long before you are won over by the absolute magic that is parenthood.
I can’t imagine life without my baby girl, and, as a parent, I worry about things that never would have crossed my mind. I spend time daydreaming during the day about hanging out with my kid and think about how much fun we’ll have when she’s just a little older. The other day I literally broke down in unexpected tears listening to the Beatles’ Golden Slumbers thinking about her, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I cried.
Being a parent subjects you to strong emotion and deep love in a manner I’m not certain one can truly understand until they experience it themselves. The idea that a piece of you is alive in this person, this person you have to strain to see as anything but perfect, it’s overwhelming. And it’s absolutely, positively wonderful.