Confession time. Raise your hand if you didn’t fall in love with your baby the instant you met them. Would anyone be brave enough to admit that it took time? Would anyone be bold enough to say that you don’t like your baby all the time? Worst parent ever? NO! You are normal if you don’t fall instantly in love with your baby. You are still a good parent if despite knowing that a baby never maliciously asks things of us, you sometimes resent the amount of sacrifice you have to make. Those feelings are real, valid, and normal.
When You Don’t Like Your BabyAny fans of the late NBC show Parenthood? (Or how about just a fan of binge watching shows on Netflix?) There is a beautiful, real moment in a season 5 episode in which one of the characters, Crosby, is holding his newborn daughter. He looks in her eyes and says, “I’m sure you’re going to be the best thing that ever happened to me one day, but right now I just really hate you.” These aren’t the things we say out loud, but sometimes they are what’s real. Later in the episode Crosby’s brother comments how beautiful the new baby is. Crosby responds that sometimes that isn’t enough. He goes on to admit that he doesn’t feel love for her yet. He wants reassurance that this phase is temporary. He wants to know that one day the crying, spitting up, diarrhea, and sleep deprivation will end. And of course his brother promises that these hard days will end, and he will fall in love with his daughter. Welcoming a new baby is challenging. It’s exhausting and messy. It can be beautiful and wonderful. You may love this phase or you may hate it. You may think you could live in these moments forever. Or you may be up in the night with your crying baby, again, afraid to admit that you don’t feel love yet, and you don’t like your baby right now. You are not a bad parent for these feelings. You are normal. This phase will end and a new one will begin. You will get through this. If you need some help in this phase, consider hiring a postpartum doula. Connect with other parents who are in the trenches and understand. Remember, you were never meant to do this alone.
*While the feeling that you don’t like your baby all the time is normal, if you feel like you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or are having thoughts of harming yourself or baby: seek help. Talk to your doctor or someone who can connect you with the appropriate resources.