A Mother’s Love

People say that you can’t describe the kind of love you have for your child until you actually have it… and while I would agree for the most part, I’m going to try anyway.

You know that feeling in a new relationship when you’re just starting to fall in love and you’re completely infatuated? That feeling where you can’t stop thinking about the other person and you miss them the second they leave the room. That feeling where you stare at them and can’t believe they’re yours.

It’s kind of like that… 1000x. Mixed with a primal desire to protect them against anything.

But for me, those feelings didn’t come right away with Amalia, it took a minute. After talking to friends, I learned that this is more common than you would think so I hope my story helps you feel less guilty if the same thing happens to you.

When I was pregnant, I was so excited to feel the love I described above, but it didn’t happen for me right away. Whenever we’d go for an ultrasound I felt like Miranda in sex and the city and had to almost pretend to get excited when they showed her little arm or her nose.

I figured that it was a coping mechanism to not get too attached because I was so afraid of another miscarriage. After trying to get pregnant for so long, I felt extreme guilt about this, but figured that the second I met her, love would wash over me immediately… Right?

Wrong.

When I first saw Amalia, I was exhausted and emotional from labor but felt almost nothing towards her. That night when she stopped breathing for a minute (a story for another day) I felt a sense of panic that I didn’t know was possible. In that moment, I knew that protecting my baby would forever be the most important thing in the world to me, and that if anything ever happened to her, I would never be able to handle it.

But still, Anel described butterflies in his stomach when he looked at he during those early days, and I had none.

Her first month at home was a sleep-deprived blur and while I didn’t have PPD or PPA, and despite the fact that I was exclusively breastfeeding, I had a hard time connecting with Amalia.

Note: When I originally wrote this post, I didn’t know what was going on and was too embarrassed to fully express my emotions. You can read my update on PPD here.

And then something magical happened. I don’t know when it was exactly but sometime between one and two months I had this moment with her before I was putting her down for the night and my eyes welled up with tears and my entire body was filled with butterflies. I loved her from day one but I fell in love with her in that moment.

I smothered her in kisses and literally couldn’t stop crying and kissing her (thanks hormones).

Since then, my love for her grows more literally every day and just when I think I can’t love her anymore, I somehow create more room in my heart.

When she smiles, my heart bursts. When she cries, my heart aches. And when she gives me hugs and kisses, my heart explodes.

When did you fall in love with your baby? Was it in utero? The second you met her? A while later? I’m interested to hear your stories!

Lilly Pulitzer Dress / Lilly Pulitzer Baby Dress / Hair Bow

Lilly Pulitzer Dress / Lilly Pulitzer Baby Dress / Hair Bow

Photos by Julia D’Agostino.

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  1. Krisitne said:

    Thank you for sharing! This is a truth that needs to be shared more often as new moms often hear you should immediately fall in love and that is not always the case due to exhaustion, recovery, trouble breastfeeding etc. As a recent new mom I felt guilty in the early days for not being completely smitten at first but it does change soon and the love you develop for your baby is incomparable.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  2. Jen said:

    I also had a hard time connecting with my son when I was pregnant. And I had heard that what you described above is very common and was nervous I would feel that way – also was very nervous about experiencing PPD and/or PPA. As soon as he was born, I felt that immediate infatuation, need to protect, and overwhelming love…and it’s been that way ever since. There really are no words that do this kind of love justice, but I swear, a mother’s love could fix all the problems in this world, it’s that strong!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  3. Alyssa said:

    Thank you for everything you share. I am not a mother, so I can’t speak to this, but I just find your posts about these things so amazing. You are so transparent and honest and I think it’s wonderful!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  4. Christine Matusek said:

    We had a LOT going on right around when I had my son (we moved cross-country and I was living with my mom while my husband started his new job in another state), plus we didn’t find out what we were having before he was born. At first I thought it was just that I was adjusting to the whole idea of having a baby boy, but now I realize, it just took me a couple of weeks to warm up. Interestingly enough, my mom was so impressed that I let the baby sleep so much in a Rock-N-Play or in a crib (instead of in my arms) those first couple of weeks, that I thought it was normal. I’m not sure when it was, but it was just me and the baby for the first few weeks, and one day, it just clicked. As he gets older, I can’t imagine having not felt this crushing wave of love for him, but when I remember those early days, it seems like I was so unattached and almost avoiding him. Having a baby is an adjustment enough, and some people just take a minute to have every cog of change work together.
    It actually took my husband even longer to make the adjustment. Some days, we still talk about how surreal the whole experience is. We took the baby to the beach this weekend and he couldn’t quite get over the whole “this is my son and I’m taking him to the beach for the first time” feeling.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  5. Lisandra said:

    I felt super connected to him during my third trimester but when he came out that kind of went away. It was about 3-4 weeks in (once I had some sleep!) that I felt that surge of love.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  6. Amy said:

    Thank you for sharing. I had the same thing with my second child. I definitely think it’s a product of having many miscarriages. With my first, I had a complicatation during the delivery and ended up in ICU for a week and couldn’t see her, but she is all I could think of and probably the reason I kept fighting. But it was the second child that took me by surprise. I didn’t have that same feeling. Perhaps it was because she had colic and it was hard to really connect with her but I also think it was difficult because I had such a strong relationship with my first born and my second was so different, therefore falling in love was different. I’m happy to report that all it wonderful now and I love them both, but thank you for shedding light on an often overlooked situation.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  7. Allie said:

    Thank you so much for your honesty and candor about such difficult topics. I’m not a mother yet, but I know I’ll remember all these posts when I go through this life stage.
    You two look so darling in the matching Lilly! xAllie
    http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

    5.30.18 · Reply
  8. Thanks for sharing, Julia! I fell in love with Luca around 20 weeks, when the anatomy scan came up healthy – before that, I had a hard time connecting/believing it was real. I think we’re all very scared of the possibility of miscarriage and it’s hard to connect before you’re “in the clear” (whatever that means!) I can’t image how I’d feel during my pregnancy if I had a history of miscarriage – I think it’s totally normal how you felt and I’m proud of you for sharing!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  9. Anti said:

    Hi Julia…
    Loved your story… so so so much….
    And I must confess I loved her somewhere between month 1 and month 2 when my baby sweetheart was hospitalised due to a flu 🙁
    I remember holding her so so hard, crying and kissing her…
    And at that moment, and every day until today (we are almost 5 months now) I realise that I love her to the moon and back and that I would give my whole life just to see her smiling…

    Just wondering… I am also stressed sometimes worrying if she is ok… is this normal too?

    5.30.18 · Reply
  10. Susan said:

    I fell in love with my first, not in utero but the very instant she was born. It was so strong and I was so exhausted, I couldn’t focus on anything but her.
    My second was a quite different story. Luckily, I’d read an essay at by a mom who just didn’t feel it for her second child for months. It was poignant and I cried every time I read it. When my son was born, I was prepared not to love him as instantly which is exactly what happened. Months later when he was sick, I held and rocked him alone together in his room and it hit me- I felt the same strong love I’d felt the moment my first was born. I think it’s all normal and everyone is different.
    I’m glad you wrote about this because it’s so easy to feel guilt about every mom thing. Moms are different and true love hits us all at different times.
    My kids are now 37, 34 and 31. I adore all three!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  11. Rachel said:

    While my baby isn’t here yet (due in October), I fell in love with her the moment they showed me a picture of the embryo they were putting in. We were trying for 2 years and eventually did IVF and it worked! The picture was just a blob of cells, but I was so proud of it and knew in my heart that this was the baby I have waited so long for (makes me cry just thinking about this moment). Everyone in the room was in tears, including the Doctor, embryologists, nurses and my husband – the most magical moment of my life so far. I know when I finally meet her it will be even more incredible, but the second I saw that picture I felt like I had a much bigger purpose beyond my wants and needs and that was to do everything I can to protect her and give her the life she deserves.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  12. Jane said:

    I remember anticipating that feeling towards the end of my pregnancy, but finding it didn’t just immediately appear when I gave birth made me feel terrible. I would describe my feelings as this completely innate/primal drive to protect and keep this child alive and not crying, but it wasn’t head over heels in love. But then it does hit… and ohhhh my goodness. Every time I walk into this child’s room it’s like Christmas morning. Every time she smiles, laughs, does something new, I feel like I’m literally overflowing with love and pride and joy. Of course there are hard moments, but that feeling doesn’t go away. But I think it’s inpoetanr to share this experience!!! I truly felt terrible it took me a while to fall in love with my baby, but it’s normal and doesn’t make one a bad mother by any stretch of the imagination!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  13. Lindsey said:

    This is so on point. I talk about this all the time because I think about it a lot—and I realized that, as a first time mom, that first month(s) you are overwhelmed hormonally, physically (recovering) and emotionally with the extent of life change that happens so suddenly. As a result, your default is (inherently) to keep your child alive. I say alive and it’s sounds obvious but when you’re going through it, especially for the first time, that is what it feels like. Surviving, not thriving. As a type A incredibly competitive perfectionist, I was consumed with wanted to make sure I was doing EVERYTHING “right.” Then, like magic you begin to get into a groove, feel slightly more comfortable and confident with caring for them and that’s when the baby’s personality really starts to show. THATs the connection point. That for me, was the turning point where I really began to feel that true true love. Thanks so much for posting, you are not alone!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  14. Rachel said:

    Thank you for this I just got emotional reading it! I was the same during my pregnancy and had a miscarriage before and felt so bad that I kind of had the mindset that I wanted to be prepared for anything. The same thing happened when he was born as well I was in labor for 36 hours, 2 epidurals, a fever, bad tearing and when he came out I was just like I need to process what just happened to me please just leave me alone so my husband held him first which I was totally fine with. Then add hormones, a dehydrated baby, trying to produce milk, and no sleep I was a wreck. I definitely had the baby blues but they dissipated after about a month. I had to acclimate to life and be okay with the fact breastfeeding wasn’t for us and the same thing one day I just couldn’t stop hugging and kissing him and telling him I loved him. I don’t think there is enough information out there about hormones and feelings postpartum and I definitely think that there should be more information on it.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  15. Sarah said:

    I know you’re not trying for a second child yet, but I would love if you could do a follow up article similar to this one regarding if your feelings were the same or if it’s a completely different experience the second time around! Thanks for always being so open & honest!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  16. Krista said:

    I so appreciate you bringing attention to this perspective. I have 3 girls (2 of them are older and 1 is young). I felt disconnected with my first initially, was terrified I wouldn’t love the second before she was born yet immediately connected with her, and was afraid the third would interrupt our balance… Now I have a crazy love like no other for all of them but felt so guilty at the time because of how I didn’t “connect properly”. It’s so important that you are sharing your story and helping other moms feel a little less alone 🙂

    5.30.18 · Reply
  17. Anne said:

    It took about 6 weeks for me to feel really connected. I was recovering from a very traumatic birth and was dealing with my own severe medical issues and near death experience, and I wasn’t really with it in general for that time. While I did start to feel the intense love and incredible sense of protection soon after the 6 week mark, it is now that she is older, starting when she was about 5 years old, that the love became such that I had a harder time being away from her. There was something about her become a person who talked, had ideas, could reason, had a life away from me that made the love intensify even more.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  18. April Ann said:

    We’ve gone through five unsuccessfully IVF cycles with no baby. However, when my little sister got pregnant, naturally and quite quickly. She said, “this is for you too.” My sister is a psychiatrist at John Hopkins and her husband is everything I could want for her; he’s simply amazing. However, he couldn’t make it to all appointments. I live in Manhattan and we’re fortunate to have a private plane where it’s only 27 minutes from my door to her door. So, I was there for every appointment. I asked for her permission to do the nursery since she really, truly didn’t have time. My interior designer and I made this beautiful nursery for my nephew. The second he was born, I just felt my heart grew bigger. I’ve never and still don’t love anyone as much as I love him. My number one job in world is being his auntie. My husband a cardiothoracic surgeon works hundred hour weeks and so it gave me time and still gives me lots of time to be there. I can’t quite discribe love. But it’s like it’s this beautiful love I have for him. I love him like he’s my own. If I never have children of my own he will be the only person I love the way I do. I’m so in love with that child and see him very often because of my ability to travel quite easily. Thank for sharing your story. Amalia bring highlights to my days. She’s so beautiful and giggly. She’s so precious.

    5.30.18 · Reply
    • Anabel said:

      Please don’t give up ! You will have your precious baby someday ❤️❤️

      5.30.18 · Reply
  19. Amanda said:

    thank you so much for this post! i felt like the worst mother because i wasn’t emotional or anything at our ultrasounds. i’m due in july and my husband would light up and get tears in his eyes every ultrasound and heartbeat and i had the hardest time feeling connected. i’m due end of july with our first and i spent weeks crying about how i didn’t feel a connection. we named our little girl and i finished her nursery and would just sit in the nursery everyday trying to feel connected. doing better now that she moves constantly in my belly. glad to know i’m not alone in these feelings because no one i’ve talked to can relate.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  20. Jeanie said:

    Your not alone at all! I had A difficult delivery with fever/infection, and was literally one set of pushes away from surgery with my first. He also had a fever when he was born and was sent with the nicu team. Once we came home, he had terrible reflux/dairy allergy and colic. On top of that the first 5 weeks I had Strep, bronchitis, and ER visit, and double eye infection. So needless to say I did Not connect with my baby. But when I hit Week 5 and got well physically, I literally one day felt balanced and in control again. Thank you for sharing for others out there to know this is a normal feeling and it does go away with time! I love My son so much now it’s crazy!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  21. Teresa said:

    Thank you for sharing this! I felt super connected during pregnancy then due to a lot of issues with breastfeeding (and some very shaming words from a lactation consultants) it took some time to truly feel connected with my son. I had a similar experience that one day it all just seemed to click, but until that point I felt constantly on edge that I was doing or feeling something wrong. I really appreciate how real you’ve been with your journey. As a new Mom it’s nice to see someone validate other new mothers instead of passing judgments.

    5.30.18 · Reply
    • Candice said:

      Same. Allll the same things with my first. You’re doing GREAT!!!

      5.30.18 · Reply
  22. Lisa said:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    I was extremely high risk during the pregnancy with my third child and almost lost my life giving birth. I remember waking up in the ICU 2 days after his birth, all my family members rushing to show pictures and tell me how amazing he was. I felt so horrible at the time as my desire to be with him was pretty low and I almost resented him slightly in a way. Finally I was able to see him for the first time when he was 5 days old and the moment I laid eyes on him under the little UV lights of the NICU bassinet I fell in love with him. The more time I spent with him in the NICU the more he improved…it was then I realized I needed him to help me heal as much as he needed me to grow strong and be able to come home. We have developed a bond that is so much different than what I experienced with my first 2 children. It’s like he found ways to show me his love and admoration just a bit more.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  23. Elizabeth said:

    This was me 5 months ago! I was so excited to have that feeling you described. I ended up having a scheduled c-section and it crushed all my birth plan dreams. I had PPA, he was super fussy. I felt like a cow. I felt no connection. Then one day I was singing to him and he smiled back at me. I felt like I was truly making him happy and I finally had some validation that maybe I’d be okay at this Mom thing. It was an incredible feeling, my eyes welled up with tears and I got the overwhelming I wanted all along, just about 6 weeks later…

    5.30.18 · Reply
  24. Ashley said:

    I fell in the second I met her. It was truly remarkable the amount of love + the sheer need to protect her against the world. Literally, if anyone messes with her, I would destroyed them. I now fully grasp and understand the term ‘mama bear’!! On another note, where did you find / who is the artist to the painting in Amelia’s room?!

    5.30.18 · Reply
  25. Emily Cole said:

    I just read this and teared up. I am 38, my husband is 41. In 2015 we decided to try fertility treatment and after almost a year of failed attempts, we ran out of money. To say we were both heartbroken is an understatement. December 2016 I found out I was pregnant and in March 2017, we, along with about 70 family and friends found out we were having a girl. I was so happy/excited/”in love” already.
    I was induced at 38 weeks and when it came time to push, the Dr was so sure I would deliver in 10 minutes. 4 and a half hours later, our Eloise was born. My Husband cried and I couldn’t believe my reaction. Nothing. I felt nothing but exhaustion. I even tried to cry. But a few months later when our girl started to show her own personality, I slowly thought “this is what I’ve been waiting for.” So thanks for posting your own personal story. You’re most certainly not alone!❤

    5.30.18 · Reply
  26. Candice said:

    I admire you for putting all of this out there. I have a22 month old and 5 week old girls. The 22 month old is my best friend in the world and I love her with every actual atom of my being. Just like you said, every smile, every word, everything just melts me. I did have PPD with her and felt oddly guilty that when I had her I felt nothing. I didn’t recognize her because I had never met he! Similar to you it took about 1.5 months before I fell head over heels. Here I am with my second daughter who is wonderful in every way. This delivery was much easier (I literally laughed her out) and there is no PPD OR PPA, but I’m still waiting for that moment to fall head over heels for her. I have zero doubt it will come. Until then I will just love her and soak up as much of these moments as I can. ❤️

    5.30.18 · Reply
  27. Crystal said:

    Thank you so much for writing this! You are so brave. My son is 12 months l, and my husband completely changed overnight into a ball of love at first sight. I did not. When people asked how I felt about the newfound love of parent, I replied “I grow to love him more everyday.” They looked at me like I had two heads. It is so comforting to know I am not alone.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  28. Deb L said:

    My three children are adults now, and we miscarried between our two daughters. While I connected with all three of my children when they were born, I appreciate your honesty, and bravery by telling your story. It’s not easy to open up about this for fear of mother-shaming, but to see the photos that you take of, and with your daughter is proof that you are over the moon in love with her. You are a good Momma and she is lucky to have you, and you to have her. I look forward to watching your family grow. Thank you for sharing your story to help other young moms.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  29. Amy Foss said:

    It took me probably 2.5 months to truly fall in love with my baby. He was a tough little nugget and while I felt this urge to keep him safe and see him grow up healthy, I didn’t have that overwhelming sense of deep love you always hear about. One night when I was getting him ready for bedtime, I was reading “My Love Will Find You” and I started crying because that’s exactly how I felt. That’s when it hit me. My life will never be the same.

    5.30.18 · Reply
  30. Paola said:

    I felt in love with my daughter when she smiled to me for the first time

    5.31.18 · Reply
  31. Lauren Morrish said:

    Thank you, this post struck home with me! I had my daughter in May of 2017, and I say to anyone who asks about having a child, how much the first 3 weeks sucked. I didn’t have that ah ha moment that so many moms talk about. To be fair, I was/am also going through a lot at the time of her birth, my mother is very sick and has been for a few years, so not having her there to support me I think took more of a toll on me emotionally than I ever thought. I ended up having a c-section, which I am not at all upset about, but physically I was limited and recovering. Then the hormones that come barreling in after birth, they are a doozy. And let’s not forget the sleep depravation. I felt like I needed to constantly explain to people all the steps I was doing to take care of her, so that they would tell me I’m doing a good job, like I needed outside validation that I could handle it all. But i remember clearly I put my daughter down one night next to me and i thought, oh I want to wake her up because i miss her and I want to kiss her. I knew then that I was completely in love with her and so happy! Whatever emotional crap going on those first three weeks dissipated and I just started to enjoy motherhood. Thank you for this. I think we put unrealistic exceptions on ourselves based upon someone else’s experience, and it makes me happy when you know you aren’t alone!

    5.31.18 · Reply
  32. Hester Martin said:

    My 1st 3 months were very tough with my oldest daughter, who is now 17. I loved her so much but everything was very hard with her until she was about 12 weeks old. She cried all the time and breast feeding was terrible with her too. Then, she was just a joy and I fell in love with her. I have to say that I was so insane from sleep deprivation and felt very inadequate. I cried a lot from frustration and lack of sleep. So, I get you. Then the teenage years come along…

    I also think people try to outdo each other on social media and only post perfect moments.

    5.31.18 · Reply
  33. Julia B. said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. So many things in motherhood feel taboo, but it is so important to continue the discussion and I applaud you for being so open about your journey.

    6.1.18 · Reply
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    6.12.18 · Reply