“When the sun comes up, I see other moms frolicking on the edge of the sandbox. They watch with pride as their kids build castles or bake shortbread. “Would you like a cookie, Mom?” Moms play cheerfully: “Nomnomnom, that’s nice, thank you!” It takes Too much effort to get involved in this kind of nonsense, but I do it because the rest of the world doesn’t know that I don’t feel love for my child.”
“I’ve been making appearances for three years now. The outside world must think I’m happy with Daan. Not loving your child is one of the biggest taboos out there. Small!” Not only in conversations with friends and acquaintances, but also with my husband, I gently pushed the topic in front of me.
I did not see myself in the role of a mother. It seemed terrifying to raise a child. I thought about my selfish features and worried that I wasn’t generous enough. As a mother I have to lead by example, take great responsibility and take care of such a young child full time.
The whole idea of raising a child was incomprehensible to me. I found it complicated enough to live my life as a pure mess. And I was also worried about organizing children’s parties, standing by the sports field on obligatory Saturdays, laughing at silly children’s jokes and cooking healthy mashed potatoes. Because I’m an introvert and a dreamer, this kind of thing seemed very difficult to me.”
“Four years ago, Stephen suddenly turned out to be a ready. He saw friends turn into moms and dads walking happily behind their strollers. In my eyes, they turned into softer, duller versions of themselves. They stopped going to festivals, they talked about teething. He’s no longer the old slouch. an option.
Stephen saw it differently. He agreed that putting a picture of your child on Facebook every day was overkill, but otherwise it seemed to him to be “laughing.” “I like a mix of the two of us,” he said. He added, “Don’t worry, you won’t know what it’s like until you experience it for yourself.” And with that he hit the nail on the head with fear: the coin can fall in two directions: either the child will enrich our lives or it will disappoint and then turn back is impossible.
According to Stephen, it wasn’t so black and white, and sometimes my defensiveness gave way to skepticism, which eventually turned into curiosity. If I ever let a child pass us by, I would always wonder what it was like. And I couldn’t wait forever after I turned 30.
The confusing thing is that I wanted to have children. This should make it a little easier. On birthdays and drinking at strangers, I asked, “Is life really more fun with a baby?” Everyone stuck to the cliché: having children is the best thing that can happen to anyone. I started thinking of myself as a coward and stopped: I was going to stop taking the pill.”
“Although the outside world had promised me it would take at least a year, three months later a test revealed I was pregnant. It was Saturday morning. ‘We have a baby, Steve,’ I said to him and we hugged.” Two days later came the realization, and with it the first tears. “I wanted to be happy, but I panicked. Can I handle this? Stephen reassured me. According to him I would be a great mother. His calmness and confidence gave me strength.”
My sister was happy to be an aunt and my mother—my father was no longer alive—was in seventh heaven. She calls me three times a week to ask how I feel. “It’s okay mom, I’m fine.” Throw over the toilet, and I couldn’t avoid sink settling and other horrors. Physically I had no issues and Stephen loved me. On the 16th week, we told our friends. It had to be, because it was starting to stand out. My cleavage took on dangerous forms for someone with an A cup and his stomach became visible to the attentive viewer.
I couldn’t get the term “pregnant” out of my throat: hippos are pregnant or horses are pregnant, humans aren’t. I didn’t share things like this with friends because I’m pretty sure I was alone in this obsessive thought. In the street the sweet, especially the older women, approached me: ‘What a lovely belly, last stretch?’ Little boy or girl? We’ll see that at birth. I preferred the boy, but when I said so, I was surprised. You wouldn’t say that, you’ve seen them think. As long as it’s healthy, that sounded like a warning. “Yeah, but boy does it suit us better,” I insisted.
“In the spring we became parents of a healthy son. The birth lasted nine hours, from the first contraction to the moment Zane laid on my chest. This was the first page of our new life and I felt real happiness. Soon the three of us were allowed to go home, showered with cards, gifts and happy faces But I couldn’t hold back the feeling of happiness.
I noticed that it was hard for me to like Zane. Stephen loved our “sweet little guy” from day one, but I never had that. The maternity aide reassured me: “The bond between mother and child must grow. You and Daan are still strangers to each other and it may take a while before you like each other.
Dan cried a lot. I didn’t recognize myself or Stephen in his fiery, glowing baby head. Breastfeeding was not possible: almost nothing came out. I might have given in too soon, but the thought of Zane sucking my nipples disgusted me. I never understood why women were so normal about it. I got those animal ties again: baby hippos hanging on their mother’s nipples, but I was already shuddering at the thought.”
“When I’m alone at home with Daan, we don’t do much. We don’t play, we don’t laugh, we don’t chat. We both live in our own worlds and I feel like an apathetic woman. I feel good because I drop him off a few times a week. After I leave nursery, it feels liberating.” Stephen makes up for his failed motherhood with extra attention for Daan, he constantly takes pictures of him and draws my attention to his “cute naughty eyes”.
I don’t like the baby look, but when I think about it, I feel like a terrible human being. I immediately try to make up for those grim fragments in my head by singing a song to him, for example. Unfortunately, he hardly responds to that. Whereas, when Steven sings or says something, Daan can’t stop having fun. When I put him on, he acts crossed and uncooperative. With Stephen it is nice and relaxed.
He doesn’t want any food I put in front of him. When Stephen encourages him, he takes a bite anyway. Dan didn’t call me from his bed. If he cries at night I suggest ignoring him, but Steven thinks this is pathetic and gets him out of bed. Dan sees me as the bogeyman and his father as the hero.”
Sometimes tears come secretly at night. I feel so empty and lonely inside: Am I crazy? What’s happening to me? Will it get better if we have another child? If only I had never been persuaded. During my pregnancy, I could still express my doubts and worries about my baby, but now it’s too late. I am ashamed of myself.
There are tensions between Stephen and I. I have never said many words to him, but he certainly feels that I lead a family life differently than he does. I used to be a radiant woman, now in the mirror I see a woman with a dull look and many wrinkles. The psychologist at first thought it was postpartum depression, but since the situation still wasn’t improving, he ruled it out retrospectively.
I’ve been trying for three years now, but the bond that motherhood promised to help between me and my son hasn’t materialised. I don’t believe in God, but we pray every night that Zayn and I love each other. Until then, I’ll live by pretending to be a nice mom.”
Names have been changed for privacy reasons.