By Rebecca Hooton
I was on my hands and knees on the bed. It was 6am and I’d been in labour all night. I had nothing left to give, but I gave it EVERYTHING I had. There was no other option but to keep going.
My legs were shaking. I let out PRIMAL SCREAMS with every push. I could reach down and feel the top of my baby’s head between my legs. Two hours passed. I had no perception of time, but the midwife was worried about how long it was taking.
“We may need to do an episiotomy,” she said.
That’s all I needed to hear. In the next contraction, the head came out. The body followed shortly after, and my 9-pound-7 baby was plonked on my chest. I looked down with such relief and thought three little words…
“WHO’S THIS STRANGER?”
I’d had him inside me for nine months. I’d imagined his face, his hair, his eyes, every day. I thought we were already best friends. Then, he came out and he was nothing like I’d imagined.
You expect to be SO IN LOVE with your baby the minute they’re put on your chest, but for the first few weeks, all I felt was shock and exhaustion. I was just going through the motions. For the first few months, I knew I loved my baby, but I didn’t really like him.
I know how terrible that sounds.
I didn’t even want to say it out loud because I knew how lucky I was to even HAVE a baby when so many women can’t. But if I’m completely honest, at some points it felt like this little person had come along and ruined my life. There were days when I felt like he wasn’t really mine, I was just babysitting him.
I’d scroll through Instagram and see all the mums so in love with their children and wondered why I didn’t feel the same.
But slowly, we got to know each other.
For me personally, deep friendships don’t happen over one coffee, and this was going to be no different. I needed to stop comparing my own feelings to the filtered, edited pictures of someone else’s life and just focus on my own. Slowly, we started to have good moments here and there. Then good days. Then good weeks.
I’d say it even took a year before I started to feel deeply connected to my little boy. Like all good friendships, it just took time. Now, he makes me laugh, cry and go absolutely crazy like a best friend should. And now, whenever he plonks onto my chest in the middle of the night, I think nothing other than three little words…
“I LOVE YOU.”
And my mind is blown by the thought of what another 10 years could do for our friendship.
Rebecca Hooton is a magazine writer and editor who lives in NSW’s Blue Mountains, Australia, with her one-year-old Arthur and husband Brendon. Follow her on her blog [RebeccaHooton.com] or on Instagram [@themountainmummy] where she talks about being a mum who wants it all.