Unrequited love

This week I made an announcement that startled even me. I declared, ‘Friends don’t let friends have babies.’ I posited that the reason other parents are so happy when they hear a previous non-procreater is with child is so that there will be more folks as unhappy as they. Misery loves company and all that. ‘It’s awful,’ I stated. I was kidding, of course. Or I was mostly kidding.

It’s not as if I went into this whole thing with blinders on, or even rose-colored glasses. I knew it was going to be hard and challenging and maddening. I knew I was going to lose out on a lot of sleep. I knew I would have to change my life dramatically — no more just heading out to the movies or dinner or Chicago. Not that I was a particularly spontaneous person before, but everything now requires more planning and thought. I knew pregnancy would be uncomfortable, labor would be painful and the postpartum period would be a little gross. I knew that babies were difficult and demanding; needy, you could say. I knew, also, that babies don’t really do too much — they cry, they pee, they poop, they sleep, they flail. That’s really about it. What I didn’t know, and what I couldn’t know, is how all of this would affect me.

I don’t have postpartum depression and I feel very lucky to be able to say that. I do feel, though, pretty unsatisfied. It goes without saying (though I will) that I deeply love my daughter. It’s a beautiful, wondrous love that is completely new. I look at her and I ache. It is, though, one-sided. People may say, ‘Oh no, she loves you,’ but I don’t buy it. I don’t blame her, or me. I just don’t think she’s capable of love yet. And that’s the thing: my intense love and devotion is completely unrequited. And that’s hard to handle day in and day out, largely alone. Unrequited love is painful enough when you’re not required to change diapers, bathe and feed the object of your unreturned devotion. Add in that this love is furlongs deeper and stronger than that previously known and the object not only doesn’t love me back, but she often screams at me and I think you can begin to understand where I’m coming from on this.

Molly has just started to do some social smiling, as they say, but it’s too inconsistent to rely on or thrive on. Yesterday, though, when she smiled at me for a good minute, I started to cry. It was so amazing. People often tell me that being home alone with a newborn made them thirst for adult conversation, but I haven’t had too much of that yearning. Instead I have hungered for eye contact, smiles and, quite simply, some recognition that I am here.

I know that those things will come with time and I appreciate the ways in which Molly is already significantly different than she was seven weeks ago when she flew out of me and into the world. For now, though, the hardest thing for me is the unrequited love.


5 Responses to “Unrequited love”

  1. 1 Jane Roe April 21, 2012 at 7:55 am

    This is a message I wish all pregnant teens would read. They all believe that motherhood will be cute onesies and teddy bears instead of a lot of hard work that at least in the beginning doesn’t seem to be appreciated by the recipient. The good news is that the love will be returned soon, very soon and there is nothing finer in life.

  2. 2 Sara H April 23, 2012 at 8:51 am

    You’ll start seeing it in little ways soon. There will be those moments when only mommy will do. That can contribute to mommy exhaustion – 🙂 – but you’ll know she feels your love and appreciates it so much.

  3. 3 satcla April 24, 2012 at 8:09 am

    What a brave post. Thanks for having the courage to blog about all of this every step of the way. I think so many mothers feel pressured to talk about how beautiful it is all the time. Sure we hear it’s hard but there challenges that people completely brush past. Yes, the beginning months of having an infant are not only a lot of work on little sleep, but the development of the relationship between mother and baby, takes a long time, doesn’t it? I mean, right now you’re relating to her plenty, but she’s not yet relating specifically to you. Obviously it deepens and grows every minute but I can understand how it doesn’t feel reciprocal right now. Honestly, hearing everything you’ve been experiencing has given me much pause about having children- not because you’ve been negative or seemed unhappy but because you’ve been brave enough to talk about the ups and downs in ways that many mothers don’t or won’t. And I thank you for that. Now I know if I ever have or adopt children, I’ll be making the choice with all the information.

    I can’t wait to keep reading about it- every step of the way.

  4. 4 kateandgracie April 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks, all. Your words mean a lot to me. Molly was one part fusserpot one part smile monster today! I hope we’re trending toward the latter.

    And Jane, I think all the time about teens doing this. Or even college kids. Or anyone on their own. I don’t know how they all get through it. I don’t doubt that it will be rewarding in time, but I now know just how long seven weeks can be when you’re going through it. Molly will be 8 weeks on Friday!

  5. 5 Mary Lloyd April 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    that is a fantastic post. I do wish we could post it here at RC. I love you so much.

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April 2012

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