How it felt to meet my baby

By Melanie Mahoney

I always thought that the moment I met my baby I would become the physical embodiment of the heart eyes emoji (you know, this one 😍). Or I’d be like a cartoon character in the flush of a new crush, with my heart beating right out of my chest, totally flooded with love for my brand new son. (My baby! An actual baby that belonged to me … who would have guessed it!)

At the same time, I was very aware that some people don’t get that blinding flash of emotion. I knew that love can take a while, that it can sneak up slowly over the sleepless days or weeks or even months ahead as you work out this new world together. I was ready for that too. It will take as long as it will take, I told myself over and over as the big day approached. No pressure. No matter what, my husband and I would face it together, and all would be well.

But when that time finally arrived, when my son was placed on my chest for the very first time after a night of labour that seemed to last, at the very least, an entire week, it was something else entirely. It was like something physically clicking, with the feeling you get as you turn the key to unlock your front door after a long day. Relief that you’ve made it. You can breathe out now.

And I just thought: You’re here. Of course it’s you. I’ve been waiting for you, but now you’re here. 

Everything’s okay. 

It was all so overwhelming. Everything was so new to him – the movement of air on his skin, harsh sounds being heard with brand new ears, eyes coming to terms with light that wasn’t being filtered through the skin and muscles of my stomach – and it was so daunting to  think about how his little brain was trying to handle it all.

And we were being left in charge of getting him used to his new planet. Us! Didn’t they know who we are? We look like adults but we’re practically kids who just know how to pay bills (mostly) on time. It was exciting and terrifying all at once.

Then there were his fresh-out-of-the-oven looks. Before his birth, I’d been reminding myself that he could be covered in vernix, blood and who knows what when we first met. And when he arrived, after his forceps delivery, he did look like a little alien: our funny little cone head. But he was perfection regardless.

After a few minutes everyone left the room, and for a moment it was just me and my freshly made human. I stroked him gently, doing what I imagined a good mum would do in that situation, and he started to cry. Not like the little wail he’d done when he’d first emerged – this was his first real “What the hell? This is an outrage and I need to speak to someone in charge about this bullsh*t new world right now” kind of cry.

And of course I panicked and people gradually came back in the room, and I felt like an idiot because the first moment we ever had with just the two of us was both of us freaking out.

In the year since then, there have been countless moments of panic and all kinds of cries (both his and mine), and times when my husband and I have felt completely overwhelmed and out of our depth and just so damn tired.

And of course there have been countless good times too, the moments when you just look at each other and silently acknowledge the fact that you have made a hilarious, clever, cheeky and totally adorable person together.

And every now and then I still get that very first feeling all over again. When he’s snuggling against me when we’re reading a book at bedtime, when he gives his solemn silent wave to say hello or goodbye, when he’s charging across the room saying “mumumumumum” asking to be picked up, when he’s shrieking with laughter as he and his dad roll around the floor together …

You’re here. Of course it’s you. 

Everything’s okay.

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