The day I fell in love with my son

One question I’d like to ask fellow mothers is: when did you fall in love with your baby?

This can be a hard question because books say (and society expects) for you to fall in love at the first sight (sight of positive home pregnancy test, ultrasound result, or newborn baby). Some mothers do experience that but some don’t. And those who don’t might feel pressured or confused or guilty, and these feelings can lead to baby blues. Unidentified prolonged baby blues can turn into post-partum depression. So you see now how my question can be a tough question to answer honestly.

I personally didn’t fall in love with my son at the first sight and I did experience baby blues. The two had no causative relation but were equally worrying.

I felt blue because of a number of reasons. One of them is that things didn’t go to my birth plan. (I know birthing process has a life of its own but for a control freak, this freaked me out!) My 27-hour-long early labor that ended with a caesarean *and* endometriosis operation was a guarantee to a long recovery time. I didn’t cry when I saw my baby for the first time. But tears came down my eyes as Matthew and I decided to move forward with the C-section. “This is not what I wanted,” I cried. (Matt’s note: I did cry when I saw our son for the first time, for the record.)

Emotionally, I couldn’t be too excited about the new baby because I was still mourning the loss of my mother-in-law. She was and is still alive, but she lost her memory completely and suddenly. We never had the chance to say goodbye to her lucid self. She had prepared Ray’s christening present before she fell ill. I haven’t opened it yet, but it will surely be treasured.

So yeah, it was hard for me to “feel” anything towards my child other than the logical thoughts to protect and keep him healthy. I just saw him as a responsibility. I know Matthew often tells me that I’m callous (half the time he’s being serious) but I thought I should feel something!

One morning when he was 11 days old, I noticed his right eye had some gunk. I wiped it off and wiped it off again. It got worse. Apparently it was an infection and my midwife aunt told me to just give it a couple of drops of my breast milk and it should be fine in a few days.

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our poor little guy

 

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healing breast milk eye-drops

I realized it was his first illness and he looked weak and rather awful with pus coming out of his swollen red eye. I looked at him for a long time, at his imperfect face. At that point I learned that I do love him and I love him unconditionally.

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cured within three days

You see, I don’t like kids and I especially don’t like ugly kids, so I must have been in love with my son even with his poor eye. Now, thanks to the miraculous power of breast milk Ray is well and healthy (if fat and mushy), and I love him to death.

Ten weeks? Ten years? How long?

They grow up right before your eyes, don’t they? Indeed. Another old statement of the very obvious is proven right again: our son is definitely growing… well, not up, but more outwards. What Brits and Scots (and some Americans, probably) would call “bonny,” Ray weighs in at a hefty six-kilos-plus now.

But at least he’s a happy, if somewhat chubby, chap. Or happier. Yes, he still does the reverse of turning a frown upside down (i.e. frowns) and cries his little socks off (literally: his socks do fall off) and wails and wails as if it’s the end of his cossetted little world. But he’s also started to gurgle and coo and to smile and to hold our eyes as we gaze at him. He even “talks” back as we chat about our days and (in my case) how tortuous they’ve been.

This is truly a magical time and an experience to be treasured and it makes all the crying and the ridiculously unpleasant farts* all worth it, although that opinion can take a severe knocking at 10pm when he won’t sleep.

It’s also a time when we know we can really shape his development, so we’re playing music, reading and talking, and encouraging him to crawl, look at things and all the other stuff that could help boost his little brainpower.

It also brings us closer as a couple, although I still wander off absentmindedly sometimes on some little mission (forgot the remote, forgot to take my socks off, forgot what I was doing, etc.) and have to be called back loudly. But we can really share in the joys of togetherness where before, it was crying Ray with me and contented Ray at Rebecca’s breast. I can also confidently send Rebecca to bed as I take the 8pm-12am shift, feeding Ray at 11:30 as he dozes in a pillow with me softly whispering to him.

Fatherhood’s great, mostly. But that said, would we go through the first 10 months again in a hurry? Probably not. That’s why humans are built so we can’t. And so we forget over time, too. So I’m told by those older and wiser than me, and who am I to contradict them?

Ray at play in what is laughably called a "gym." He barely breaks a sweat!

Ray at play in what is laughably called a “gym.” He barely even breaks into a sweat!

*Yes, among the things they don’t tell you in the “things they don’t tell you about parenting” lists is the horrendous guffs that babies can emit. Or maybe it’s just Ray’s special gift.

Cry baby cry*

Ahh, you poor, poor, dear, dear soul, baby Ray. Tortured and tormented by hidden demons of discomfort and distention. Confounded by climate settings of cool, medium and hot. Stressed by overbearing relatives half the time and left all alone—the loneliest person in the world—the other half. Serenity, wherefore art thou?

Why do newborn babies cry so much? It’s an oft-asked question, the Internet tells me. It’s because crying is the only form of communication they have, I read, and because life outside the womb is so jarringly shocking. I know and agree because I too was a testy tot once upon a time 43 years ago. Apparently I cried for three years non-stop, which is an awful load of old colics.

But really. No, really. Is it really necessary for newborns to shriek so violently for no apparent reason? Surely it would be better if humans were born able to speak and point and nod and indicate rather than just crap and cry? I can’t see the logic in them being born so unusually useless. It’s a tricky question both for evolutionists (are humans as evolved as they should and could be) and also for creationists (why were baby humans built so bad).

As to me and to Rebecca? We just muddle on. The most heartbreaking thing is that while I hate to wish my life away, I am looking towards the 2- to 3-month mark when Ray becomes an infant and not a newborn. But, as they say, I’ll never get those three months back. Perhaps best just to put up and shut up. Which is what I’d like Ray to do, if only he understood logic and sense… Bless his little heart, of course.

One of these has reasons to be happy. The other is a muppet.

One of these has reasons to be happy. The other is a muppet.

*Sang along to the Beatles song of the same name