Occasionally in my prenatal reading, I’d come across a quote by some brand-new mom that invariably included the phrase “love at first sight,” as in, “I looked at my baby boy for the first time and it was love at first sight.” Often, these quotes were followed by a disclaimer assuring the reader that not every mother felt this initial shock of love and that different mothers responded to their babies in different ways.
And then there would be a little blurb about postpartum depression.
What I felt when I saw Lydia for the first time was not instant, heart-warming love, but a terrified awe – a beautiful, reverent, terrified awe. From her bleary eyes to her damp hair to her tiny, tiny toes, she struck me not as a sparkling being who quickly captivated me, heart and soul, but as a satisfying answer to the question I’d been asking for nine months.
Ah, I thought. It’s you.
I’ve never been one for love at first sight; I’ve never been one for romance. I knew Mitch for years before we ever exchanged a kiss, or looked at each other that way or talked of marriage (but once we did, whew! We did not wait around. I’m also not one for long engagements). When we did marry, I felt that same awe, as in, “I have known you all this time and yet – I have never really known you.” Since then, we’ve set out to truly get to know one another, in all our inconsistent, ever-changing glory.
I don’t expect us to reach the end of that particular road. I hope we never do.
So, I did not fall in love with my daughter at first sight, I know that now. Because now I have fallen for her completely. Sometime last week, when she started crying and her lip trembled just so and my response was not one of panic but one of sudden joy, I knew that we had made a few long steps down our own road, that putting some of the rough stuff of birth and breastfeeding and transition behind us, we are now able to lift our eyes a little from the path and look at each other and smile.
Ah, we both say, in our own languages. It’s you.