People in relationships talk about loving someone and being in love as two different things. I think I experienced that with Theo too. I know I loved him before he was born. Despite my best efforts through pregnancy not to get attached in case the worst should happen again, I did grow to love the little bundle growing inside me as time passed and I talked to him, sang to him and felt his movements. I definitely loved him when he was born. I felt protective over him, it pained me when he cried, I enjoyed looking at him and felt content when he fell asleep on me. But I don’t think I was in love with him then.
I will freely admit that I had some really hard times in Theo’s first two months of life. There were times when I was so sad, and felt so inadequate to the task of being his Mummy that I fantasised about running away and leaving him with his Daddy. When I felt so broken by not being able to exclusively breastfeed him, that I actually wanted to not be alive anymore and fantasised about dying in a car crash. Times when I resented Theo for needing formula and thought how Isobel would have been the perfect baby and would have breastfed successfully. I am pretty sure I cried at some point every day for the first six weeks or so! When I thought things were getting better, Isobel’s first birthday came along, bringing with it head colds for Theo and I with even less sleep, and even more misery. I was telling myself to get through one more day but then despairing that after that day there would be another day to get through. It wasn’t that bad all day every day, and there were lovely times too, but the dark times were very dark. It was like I couldn’t win, when I felt happy, I felt guilty for being happy despite missing Isobel. When I felt sad, I felt guilty for not enjoying Theo fully.
The usual things eventually helped as they always will, talking to Simon, being really honest with friends and demanding they come and see me more often, getting support from my Mum, being told and telling myself that it was ok to feel the way I felt, that it was normal in the circumstances, that it would pass. I started to exercise again, walking and running on the tow path – exercise, fresh air and a little time away from the baby, a winning combination. I took Theo to some activities, baby yoga, a circuits class, and baby swimming. I spoke to other mums who admitted finding things hard even in somewhat easier ‘normal’ circumstances.
During my first baby yoga class, I was singing to Theo and making him do the movements to the song and it was so cute I started to laugh. I realised I felt joy. I wondered why I hadn’t interacted with Theo in such a playful way until then. I realised that I could have fun with Theo as well as just feeding, cleaning and changing him! I don’t know if that was a turning point or just a symptom of the turning point, but my mood has gotten significantly better over the past three weeks. I am enjoying this gorgeous little boy so much more. I look at his funny little face and feel delight. I laugh at his big burps and explosive farts! I work my hardest to get smiles and my heart warms when I’m rewarded with a little grin – still quite rare at this stage!
I feel like I don’t just love Theo, but I’m in love with him and falling harder every day. It’s scary, but wonderful!