And there it was, love.

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I know, we both look slightly crazed, it’s normal for us.

“I love you, always be my best friend?” Freya said out of the blue the other night.

She climbed on to my lap, put her hands on either side of my face and looked into my eyes.

We had been snuggled on the sofa in the pre-bedtime wind-down, the blinds were drawn, the room cosily lit by just a lamp creating tall shadows on the walls.

“I love you. Always,” I said, earnest in my response.

She’s into the concept of friends at the moment. Her list includes granddad, Tilly, the weird lifesize toddler doll my mum got from a charity shop, her cousin in America, several children from her weekly playgroup and Kwazii (from the Octonauts).

Even though I know she doesn’t really get friendship and, as her mum, she might not want me as a friend, let alone a best friend, at certain points in her life – at least if my own experience is anything to go by – I couldn’t help the leap of my heart – especially at the other half of her words.

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Here she is with Tilly (or Chucky, as I call her).

Becoming a mum didn’t come easily for me in the physical sense but also mentally it took some time to adjust – and I’m not just talking days.

When they first put that big ball of fury in my arms three hours after she was born I thought: “Oh, they’ve given me the wrong baby.” Now all bruised and swollen after a far from easy birth, she certainly didn’t look like the same baby I’d glimpsed before she was whizzed off to the NICU with a temperature. I even looked up at the midwife who handed her to me, expecting her to realise her mistake.

Mark had gone with Freya and, so he told me, was there all the time (his ears are still ringing from her non-stop screaming) so I knew she must have been the right one but that rush of instant love I’d read so much about just didn’t come.

Maybe I should have been braced for it.

After losing the first two pregnancies and with a sense of doom hanging over this one like an ever present storm cloud I had perhaps not bonded with my bump as fully as I could have done – not that holding back would have made it any easier if something had gone wrong, of course.

I think I thought that as soon as I had an actual, healthy baby in my arms, the emotion would just flow out and wrap around us like a cacoon.

But nothing happened.

Right then, back from theatre in the delivery room, I told myself that it would come, to just be patient.

I started wonder though,  especially when she refused all but the first attempt to breastfeed (which I couldn’t feel as I was numb from the neck down due to being tipped up after the epidural) and then cried every time I went near her (or so it felt). Could she feel my reserve, was she reacting to it?

I remember my mum coming to visit the next afternoon and practically throwing the squalling baby at her.

I told myself it was just the bustling hospital environment, hardly conducive to quiet bonding. When we get home things will be different.

They only got worse.

For many months.

I’m not cut out to be a mum, I thought.

However, somewhere along the way – through the exhaustion and the sadness at seeing her in pain, beyond the frantic search for something she could drink and the quest for the perfect bottle – I looked at her one day and there it was, love.

It had crept up on me during those long days and nights, which now feel like they passed in a blur, when I wasn’t looking.

And there it has remained.

I don’t doubt it now, even on the toughest of days.

But in the throws of just getting on with things I hadn’t really thought about how she feels about me.

Every night after I’ve tucked her in, I leave the room saying: “Sweet dreams, I love you.”

Ocassionally she will mumble it back but maybe, the other night, she realised it had crept up on her too?

Little Hearts, Big Love

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20 thoughts on “And there it was, love.

  1. Gorgeous post. And even in the future when there are times she won’t say it as much…. or you have the normal mummy and daughter fall outs…. she’ll still love you no matter what 🙂

    Love you’s from our littles are one of the loveliest things.

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    1. Oh no, I don’t want you to cry at work! I’m glad you liked it. Also thank you for your lovely email. What a great way to start the day 🙂 I’ve replied.

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    1. That’s good to know, thank you. It doesn’t seem the done thing to admit you didn’t have that instant, all consuming love but maybe other people can relate too. I hope you’re having a good day 🙂

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      1. I’ve read that delays getting the baby back to you can have a significant long term impact. For me, it was more than a half hour, even as I pled for them to stop their administration so I could hold my baby.

        One of my husband’s friends emailed about a week ago to thank me for posting my PPD post. Her words made me so glad I’d written about not feeling that connection instantaneously, and not–now–feeling like that makes me a terrible person, for the connection is now strong. 🙂

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  2. Tara, this is a beautiful post and your words really made me quite tearful – I could relate to so much of it. I struggled to bond with my second daughter – I knew in my head that I loved her but I just couldn’t seem to feel it the way I had with my first. And like you, one day I looked at her and there it was – love. She’s two now and I absolutely adore her but it didn’t come easily. I love the way Freya took your face in her hands and told you that she loved you and wanted you to be her best friend – what an adorable, heart-melting moment. Thank you for sharing this with #ftmob 🙂

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    1. Thanks Louise. I know exactly what you mean. I was fiercely protective of Freya (even refusing to let one of the doctors while we were in hospital take her at 1.30am to give her her meds and insisting I go, in my PJs, with her) but I just didn’t feel the love yet.

      Thank you for hosting such a lovely link up.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember that moment too. The minute she was born I felt the responsibility of the world – I argued fiercely against her being taken away from me when there was concern for my health a few hours after birth, refusing to let go – but it was a couple of weeks later that I looked down at her as I was getting her dressed, and fell in love.

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  4. Lovely post. We discussed what would happen if the babies had to go to the SCBU (not a rarity with identical twins born to a 41 year old first time Mother) before they arrived and then just stared at them afraid to pick them up when they didn’t have to go.
    You and Freya are the spitting image of each other

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    1. Thank you. The strange thing was, when she was born she was all Mark but as she’s aged I think she’d got a bit more like me (poor bean :)). I’m pleased your boys didn’t have to go to SCBU. I didn’t have a clue what to do with Freya.

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  5. Gorgeous photo and such a lovely moment for you as a Mum. These sorts of memories are so very special and really do sustain us in our bad times. She will love you for years and years to come. Don’t fret about the ensuing teenage years. Just enjoy those heart warming moments now.

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