I expected Motherhood to suck.
I expected to be sleep deprived, and miserable. I expected that caring for my child would feel like a never-ending slog, an obligation that went on and on and on and on, until I died. I expected to miss life before my baby; when I could sleep in, go on road trips at the drop of a hat, and shower any time I wanted to.
While I was pregnant I obsessively read Reddit threads about parents who regretted having children. In them, mothers and fathers protected behind the veil of internet anonymity wrote words like, "I love my children, but I wish I never had them," or "My child has made my life worse in every possible way,". I was terrified that when my child was born I would find myself writing my own tales of woe and regret on an anonymous internet forum at 3am.
I was terrified that I would be the only mother in the world who truly loved her dogs more than she loved her baby.
When my baby was born, I didn't love him instantaneously. The moment he entered the world in a wave of endorphins and blood, I was overjoyed, awestruck, and relieved... but I was not in love. I thought he was terribly cute, precious, and wonderful, but I also struck by strange he felt. I remember saying to a nurse how it bothered me that if in those first 24 hours of life-outside-the-womb someone had lined my baby up with a dozen other caucasian newborns, I might not be able to pick my child out.
He was a complete stranger to me, yet also as deeply connected to me as my own beating heart, or blinking eyes. How could I not know him? How could he be both things?
I've never been one to throw the words 'I Love You' around. When my husband told me that he loved me after a couple months of dating, I smiled awkwardly, blinked, and said "thank you". A fact that he will never let me live down.
In the first weeks of his life, it was hard for me to say the words "I love you" to my infant. I wasn't sure that I did- love him, that is. I worried that these feelings meant that I was having trouble bonding, or that maybe I was suffering from some sort of postpartum depression, or what perhaps I was just a really shitty mother and human being and that I would never fall in love with this perfect child of mine because I was a cold-hearted, ice-queen monster.
But then, around 6 weeks old, he smiled at me for the first time. And in that very moment, the walls of stone that surrounded my cold, dead heart crumbled, and my heart thrashed to life, like a phoenix raising from the ashes.
I tell my baby boy, who is 15 shit-disturbing months old now, that I love him about one hundred times a day. Sometimes when I do, he smiles and blows me kisses with his dimpled, perfect baby hands and I love him 1000x more.
I wonder if my inability to love him from the get-go stemmed from my months of convincing myself that Motherhood would be horrible. Truly, I was woefully under prepared for just how amazing it would actually be. I never would have expected that waking up 3-7 (yes, SEVEN!) times a night really wouldn't feel 'that bad', and that pregnancy wouldn't actually destroy my body, and that this stranger of an infant would give me a sense of purpose and renewed wonder in life that I didn't even realize was missing.
Motherhood, in my experience, hasn't sucked at all and that has taken me by complete surprise.