Whether it was through a hi-def ultrasound our looking down at the child in your arms, you never forget the first time you saw your child.
That moment is an integral part of becoming family or enlarging the family unit. This can be especially poignant if it marked your embarkment into parenthood.
Parenting involves an adjunct of identity. You’re not just you. Suddenly, you’re Mom or Dad to someone dependent on you. You’re “Joshua’s mom” or “Katie’s dad” to teachers and coaches. You’re that person with those kids to your neighbors.
Leading up to the Moment you Laid Eyes on Your Child
The story doesn’t always begin with that single moment. I know for us, the reality set in when the OB staff at the hospital told us they were admitting me. My husband bit his tongue.
For my sister, years of consideration on whether she wanted to pursue adoption preceded that moment. Furthermore, because the adoption took place in October 2001, an international flight was something altogether different than she’d ever experienced.
Where did your story begin?
Emotions you Felt the First Time you Saw Your Child
What went through your head and heart? It could include some of the following:
- Fear- wondering if you were up to the task of parenting or worried about your child facing the world’s problems,
- Surreal-ness – the moment you’d imagined for so long was finally happening.
- Love–a rush of feeling that perhaps you didn’t expect or couldn’t fathom beforehand
- A detachment or depression and feelings no one warned you about
What You Said to Your Child, Spouse, or Partner
This one makes me cringe. I remember saying “My baby, my baby, my baby” repeatedly and incoherently. I’m a writer, yet in that moment articulation failed me.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes we don’t recall. Look back at photos to help memories float to the surface. Or we may have carefully prepared our words in advance.
First meetings with an older adopted child make great stories to share. What a comfort for them to understand that rush of bonding and mutual belonging you felt.
Not every birth results in a happily-ever-after. The loss of a child can be particularly hard to write about. Likewise, damaged relationships are painful to look back on.
Although writing about the moments you did share can be cathartic, take care with yourself as you write.
As always, writing does not necessarily entail sharing. You can reveal your feelings to others when you’re ready.
Traditions of Naming
Perhaps you greeted your baby by name the first time you saw your child. What thoughts were behind that name? Did it embody hopes that you had for your child? Did you honor a relative?
It’s important to tell that part of the story. We can look at the family tree and connect the dots, but we’re making assumptions. We can’t be sure it’s correct.
For instance, my mother’s names have long puzzled me. Her first name was the same as her father’s sister’s, a woman who was reportedly unkind to mom’s parents. Her middle name, Ellen, honored one of the most loving loyal and generous souls to grace Lunenburg County, Virginia. I wonder if my grandparents were trying to achieve some type of balance.
Tell the story of the first time you saw your child (children). It works for grandchildren too! To close the loop, read Dear Mommy, How to Describe Your Relationship with Mother.