This blog post was written by an anonymous stepmom who shares her realization of how having an ours baby changed her perspective.
Before I had my son, I had no idea how having an ours baby would change me. I would have told you emphatically that I loved my stepdaughter as my own child. And I would have aggressively challenged you if you said anything different. “First of all, how do you know I don’t? Can you feel my feelings?” Something along those lines was spewed quite often and with a lot of anger behind it.
I thought about her all the time, bought her random little gifts at the store, and took her for girls’ nights when her dad worked late. Knew her favorite foods and how she liked her hair done. I tucked her in at night, read her too many stories, held her when she cried, and cheered for her when she succeeded. I loved her very, very much.
But I didn’t love her as my own child.
It Was a Process…
It wasn’t an instant realization. There wasn’t a switch that flipped in my brain when my son was born that said, “You love this baby more now”. No, much worse. It was a slow, painful, steady acknowledgment that this tiny human who came from my body meant more to me than the one I had helped raise for so many years.
I tried to fight it for a long time, even before my son was born and the feelings started slowly creeping in. I was adamant about including my stepdaughter in everything new-baby-related. She even flew out to the baby shower with me.
My Stepmom Heart Changed After Having a Baby of My Own
After I gave birth, I poured more into my stepdaughter when she was with us. I oohed and awed over her being a big sister. I made sure she felt loved and not replaced in any way. But it was undeniable. Things felt… off.
I was uncomfortable around her and even had trouble breastfeeding my son when my stepdaughter was in the room. I worried she’d go to her mom’s and say something about seeing my breast, and what a stirrup that would cause!
So, I’d go hide in the nursery. But then I was in the nursery constantly. I felt completely disconnected from the little family I’d had just a few weeks prior.
I got annoyed when my stepdaughter’s schedule interfered with my son’s needs. School pickups had been my responsibility for years but now that was in the middle of my son’s afternoon naps. Being expected to interrupt my infant’s much needed sleep because my stepdaughter didn’t like going to after-school care made me feel resentful.
Looking in a mirror
Of course, at first, I looked inward and blamed myself for most of my feelings. I felt ashamed that I didn’t have enough love to give them both. Ashamed that sometimes my stepdaughter’s mere presence bothered me in ways it never had before.
I also started realizing I didn’t always see the things she did as cute or charming or quirky the way her dad did. Sometimes they were just downright annoying.
Eventually, I tried excusing my feelings by saying that I loved them both the same amount, but in different ways. Much like many women who are only moms say when they have multiple children.
But that wasn’t the truth either.
Admitting the Truth
Admitting the truth came several years later. It finally occurred to me that as much as I love my stepdaughter, if push came to shove, my body, mind, and soul would choose my son first every time. No questions asked, and with very little remorse felt.
It’s a deep, innate, unconscious feeling that I can only explain as biology. I’d imagine somewhere in evolution, it became vitally important for the continuation of existence, that mothers fiercely love and protect the children they birth.
I remember explaining to my best friend, who was also a stepmom but not yet a biological one, that defending my love for my stepdaughter before I’d given birth was like comparing apples to oranges, having never eaten an orange.
I was speaking wholeheartedly what I thought was the truth – they’re both fruit, round, sweet, etc. But the reality is so much deeper than that.
You have to peel an orange and an apple you can bite right into. Oranges are fibrous and tart, and always orange. Apples are smooth, sometimes sweet, sometimes not, and come in hundreds of shades and colors.
All those statements are true also but you wouldn’t know the full comparison until you eat both fruits.
This reality might not be everyone’s experience, but it was mine. And I wish someone had warned me. Or at the very least, listened to my struggling heart in those months after my son was born.
One of the most isolating times in my stepmom life was coming to this realization on my own and feeling so helpless and ashamed of it. So, to the struggling stepmom who just had her own baby, your feelings are normal.
Your stepchild already has a mom. Your baby deserves your fierce, innate love now.
P.S. Now is as good a time as any to take some time for you. Head on over and read about the 5 things stepmoms should stop feeling guilty about.