Falling in love with Nova
I remember one day, when Nova was about 3 months old, I’d had a tricky morning with her, she didn’t want to settle and wouldn’t let me put her down. Jet was in nursery and I was trying to get some work done and I found myself getting more and more frustrated. Nova was lying on her play mat and had started to cry, I went over to her and as my face came in to her eye line she looked up and beamed at me, a real face glowing, pure joy beam and my heart melted and broke a little and my eyes filled with tears and I realised in that moment that that was the first time I’d felt such an all consuming love for her. 3 months in I fully, whole heartedly loved this baby.
I loved Jet fiercely from the second he arrived. I gave birth to him in water and so I was the one that picked him up first. I scooped him up out of the water and held him close to my chest. It was the most incredible moment, like the world really was standing still, like the universe took a breath for a moment. He didn’t cry and his little eyes were wide open. He stared up at me and in that moment my mother bear side was born. As if when he was born my heart left my body and took residence out in the big, scary world, in the form of the tiniest little vulnerable baby.
The first few weeks with Jet I actually couldn’t quite cope with the love that I had for him. It was all consuming and I felt constantly terrified that we weren’t doing enough for him. If we put him down in his Sleepyhead I’d often turn to Henry- ‘Do you think he knows he’s loved? I just want him to know he’s safe?’ I’d say through my hormonal, new mum tears. I had such an all consuming desire to love him and for him to know he was loved and that we were there for his every possible need.
Fast forward two years to my birth with Nova. I was so worried in the build up about how I’d feel second time round and a lot of my brain power was spent worrying how Jet would cope with the new arrival. I didn’t want him to feel replaced.
My birth with Nova was equally as positive as with Jet, if not more so as we were able to have her at home. The labour went across more nights than it had with Jet though so by the time she arrived I was beyond exhausted.
We didn’t know Nova’s gender before she was born. I remember holding her and feeling the umbilical cord and assuming she was a boy! I announced to the room that we had a son, before turning her over and realising that we actually, in fact, had a daughter at which point me and Henry both broke down in tears. I was so thrilled to have a little girl.
But I then came over feeling really shivery and shaky and in quite a bit of pain. I was holding Nova and we were waiting for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting it. But I remember feeling so weak that I was asking our midwives to cut it sooner. All I wanted was to pass the baby to someone else and to be able to get onto my sofa with a warm towel.
I loved Nova instantly. But I think I mostly loved the idea of her and the promise of what she would grow to be. I knew that she’d grow to be fun and to bring the perfect dynamic to our family but at first I felt like all she did was take. Take away my time with Jet, feed from me, take all the energy from my body.
In those first few months I would describe her to people as a pretty tricky baby. I said that she cried a lot and needed a lot of attention. It was about 6 weeks in that I realised she wasn’t tricky at all. She was an amazing baby, able to lie and chill in her Sleepyhead, she fed well and slept well. The problem was I was giving her barely any attention if she didn’t need it. Grabbing every quiet moment to be able to pour my attention on Jet. I would mostly only go to Nova if she was crying and needed something, so I thought of her as a baby that was always demanding my attention.
When Jet was little I had all the time in the world to sit and chat with him and take in every hiccup and funny dream face (I swear they go through very emotion in their sleep!?) I just wasn’t taking the time to do that with Nova.
I’d find myself getting to the end of a day and realising I’d barely looked at her face. She spent hours a day in the sling. Looking back I know she was happy, she was only tiny and so I think for her being in the sling meant she was still forming a bond with me, being held close and able to smell her mama. But I felt awful when I realised that I wasn’t taking her in, breathing in her sweet smell and making mental notes of her little face like I had with her brother.
Anyway, all this meant that I loved her but I didn’t LO-OVE her. And I don’t mind admitting that. I think so much pressure is put on new mums to feel an instant indescribable bond. This magical connection that people talk about. Love at first sight. Sometimes that’s the case and sometimes its really not. And that makes you no less of a mum.
If you don’t completely and utterly whole heartedly love your baby at first, a fear can set in that you’ve done something wrong or that something’s missing. Maybe you’re not as maternal as other people, maybe you’ll never love them the way other people do. These fears are so much more damaging than the lack of love. Love is something that grows and that is completely fine and completely normal.
The journey to love Nova with the all consuming, my heart can’t cope feeling has been a journey. It’s partly happened naturally and I’ve also consciously made more of an effort. I’ve taken the time to have special one on one moments with her. Jet is in nursery a day and a half a week and that is my time to work but I’ve set aside some time within those days to just be with Nova. To lie on her play mat with her, chat to her, take her in and I found that made such a difference.
It’s also just happened naturally as she has became more interactive. Seeing her engage with Jet makes my heart explode and I remember when she first started really smiling. It was the sweetest smile, so different to Jet’s newborn smiles. It helped me see her as her own person and made me excited for all the other things she’d do that would be different to her brother. I also felt such relief that she was smiling at all, happy to know that she was happy and that we hadn't somehow stunted her development. Ridiculous really what goes through your mind!
I love both my children with my whole entire heart (and then some) but the journeys to get here have been different. I’ll tell Nova when she’s older all about it because I want her to know that if she becomes a mum one day her feelings are valid. Whatever those feelings are.