My beautiful daughter, Evelyn Grace was born on May 15 of this year. My husband, Gregory and I have been on a roller coaster of emotions ever since. Although I suppose the ride really began back in September when we discovered our little bundle of joy! I spent nine (seemingly short) months imagining what my little one would be like, dreaming about what she would look like and thinking about our new life together. My husband and I quickly became consumed with this new baby…telling our parents that they were going to be grandparents, planning what the nursery would look like, compiling our gift registries and going to baby showers. Endless conversations about our new baby filled our lives along with a budding love, waiting to bloom…

Hi! I’m Erika. I am brand spanking new to this thing called “motherhood.”

I’m only a couple months in but so far I would describe the journey as… fulfilling…a little terrifying…amazing… and definitely exhausting! As a brand new mom I have been experiencing all of these emotions and many more. I have occasionally felt guilty as well. Guilty for wanting two seconds to myself, for wanting to be able to go see my friends without having to worry about what I would do with the baby, and for maybe not loving her as much as I should have right away. Is that possible? It still hard for me to let those words come out of my mouth. I’m afraid of the judgments I will receive because of it. Everyone I talked to throughout my pregnancy told me that as soon as I saw her I would get this overwhelming wave of love that I had never experienced before…but what if that isn’t what happened? Am I a bad mom because of it?

I’m guessing… and hoping that I am not the only mom who has experienced this. So I wanted to share the unexpected journey God has taken me on to falling madly in love with my daughter and how it’s completely OK to have your journey be starkly different than someone else’s!

“Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! This is my baby, my child that I’ve been growing for nine months inside of me! She’s finally here!…And she looks exactly like her father” (not what I was expecting seeing as how i’m the one with the darker features). These were some of the thoughts racing around my head as I pulled this screaming, squirming, slimy life out of my body and onto my chest. I couldn’t stop smiling and feasting my eyes on the beautiful babe before me that was MY daughter…That word still feels weird coming off of my lips. I have a daughter!!!

I was overjoyed that she was finally here and in my arms. I was relieved that the hard part of pushing her out and the pains of labor were finally over. I was excited to finally be able to see what she looked like!… But where was that wave of emotion, that rush of overwhelming love that everyone had told me about? I saw that my husband was experiencing it. But me? Not so much. Was something wrong with me for not instantly feeling connected to this precious babe? No one had told me that it might be like this. I felt guilty and like maybe I was already a bad mom for this seemingly awful truth.

Was it normal for me to feel this way? Why didn’t I feel an instant connection to this person who had been growing inside of me for nine whole months?? Would it ever come to me..this love that I had read and heard so much about? Was I alone in this? I felt somewhat ashamed…shouldn’t I feel more of a connection to this person who literally came to life inside of me? Don’t get me wrong, I was so happy she was here and completely amazed that she was mine, but I don’t think I deeply loved her yet.

So, do you know what I did? I went searching. Searching to see if there were other moms out there with similar experiences. One of the places where I found comfort during this time was in the writing of other moms sharing their own experiences. Mom’s who weren’t afraid to be REAL and honest about the ups and downs of motherhood and all that it brings to their lives.  I took to the internet and to the words of other moms who had gone before me. Real moms. Honest moms. Women who weren’t afraid to show the occasionally, ugly side of motherhood within every day life. The struggles and burdens that can sometimes come with raising tiny humans. Words, my dear friends, have power!  The power to heal, create, bring people together. Through the words and encouragement of others, I discovered the beautiful truth that we are all different and have our own unique experiences.

I found that I was not alone. I had this amazing community of real mothers that were honest, kind and encouraging. And through their words I realized something huge… Loving my daughter was more than this feeling I thought that I was missing (although that would eventually come as well). Loving my daughter came as I showed up for her time and time again.

Because the love of a mother isn’t just defined by emotion, it’s also defined by action.

Getting up multiple times in the middle of the night to feed my hungry little baby. Changing 10 poopy diapers a day so that her bottom would not get a rash. Cutting her nails so that she wouldn’t scratch her precious little face. Burping her endlessly and trying multiple positions to relieve gas pains. Protecting her. These are the things that define a mother’s love. These actions are what make it so powerful. This tiny person depends on me for everything! And showing up for her, time after time is what formed that deep bond between myself and my daughter.

And eventually, as days, hours and minutes passed with my beautiful little girl, my love for her began to grow exponentially. I remember sitting with her and my husband a day or two after we brought her home with us, we were listening to a song called “Light” by Sleeping At Last and those powerful waves of all-consuming love that I had heard so much about finally did crash over me.

“I’ll give you everything I have, I’ll teach you everything I know. I promise, I’ll do better. I will always hold you close, but I will learn to let you go. I promise, I’ll do better….You are loved, you are loved, more than you know.”

These words hit me hard and wave after endless wave of fierce, intense, protecting love for my baby girl washed over me. A mother’s love.

Tears fell. The first tears I had cried since she graced this world with her beautiful presence.

Overwhelmed. Grateful. Blessed. I never wanted to leave her side. I didn’t want to miss a moment. This child was mine! Forever! God chose me to be her mama!

Motherhood has been the most exciting, crazy, joy-filled journey that God has ever taken me on and I am so privileged to be on it. I look forward to falling more and more in love with my daughter every day that I am blessed to be with her. My hope is that this post has encouraged even one person who experienced this new love in a way that’s different than what I had known, to be acceptable or normal. Because the truth is there is no “normal.” Every journey is different and there is beauty in that.

There is not a right or a wrong way to fall in love with your child..because quite honestly it just happens. Through days filled with cuddling your new baby, gazing at their beautiful face, taking them all in, watching family members faces light up the first time they lay their eyes on your child, learning how to breastfeed along with them, watching them sleep peacefully and soothing them when they cry, laughing at the funny faces they make.. little by little, day by day, love for your child grows to enormous heights. A mother’s love.

My goal with this first post was to be transparent. Vulnerable. Honest. Because quite honestly..to admit what I did still scares me a little bit! But I am learning to be OK with that! I want to encourage others to be okay with not being ‘okay’ all of the time.

I wanted to give my readers a glimpse into my imperfect, messy, blessed life. I hope to inspire and encourage in this space, to lift each other up, speak out about hard things and celebrate life’s joys together. There is power in community and friendship.

You are not alone! We are in this together! Did any of this resonate with any of you other mama’s out there? If so I would love to hear about it in the comment section.