Society and media have always painted this picture in my head that you feel this immediate connection with your baby when you become pregnant. An indescribable bond that you savor and nurture throughout pregnancy. A mother and baby bond that you can only hope to articulate to your partner. Well, the closest I’ve felt to a connection is when my baby kicks my belly, and I can touch his little hands and feet through the layers of skin that separate us two. It’s a cool and honestly bizarre experience when you think about it. But it’s purely physical.

I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom. My husband and I have talked about becoming parents throughout our almost ten-year relationship. It was never a matter of if we wanted to; it was a matter of when. And when the time came, we said if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen. Unbeknownst to us, this little guy jumped at his first chance to enter the world, and one month later, I was in shock only seconds after I took the pregnancy test.

Since then, I’ve watched as my body has grown and changed in ways I’ve never imagined possible. My to-do list has grown with tasks to prepare my body to be a healthy vessel for my son and prepare our life and home for a new addition. As I checked off things like taking prenatal yoga, installing the car seat, and decorating the nursery, there was still one thing I couldn’t quite complete: feel like a mom. How am I supposed to feel this deep connection with a stranger who’s growing inside my body?

Pregnancy is weird. For me, it’s not a magical experience where I glow and gleam thinking about the little gift growing inside of me. It’s truly crazy that these tiny cells form this living being, and your body just knows what to do to make a home for the next nine months so you can push a living, breathing human out of your body. I understand it’s science, and science is magnificent, but as the vessel that’s housing all of the mysterious things, it’s weird. 

I’ve felt and experienced things that I could only imagine before pregnancy. I’ve now experienced the ability to not tie my shoes without getting out of breath, the pressure in my pelvis that makes me feel like my uterus is going to fall out of my butt, and the ways my boobs have transformed right in front of my eyes. All these things are physical, not emotional.

Contrary to popular belief, not every woman is emotional during pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments filled with tears of frustration, tears of anger, and tears just because. But I can count on one hand how many times my pregnancy has taken control of my emotions without my permission. And still, through the physical and hormonal changes, I don’t feel maternal. 

While I’m so excited to meet our son and see the man he becomes one day, the journey getting there is anything but the magical picture they paint on TV or that you hear about from friends and family. Maybe this makes me odd. Or maybe this is normal, and no one talks about it. About the fact that I feel weird posing in pictures with my hands on my belly because it feels unnatural. About the fact that I’m equally as concerned about what happens to my body during my postpartum recovery as I am the well-being of my baby. About the fact that I’m also a living, breathing person with emotions and feelings and experiences that have existed pre-baby, and now I’m supposed to drop everything to care for this little growing stranger inside my body.

I’ve heard this nine-month journey is all worth it as soon as they place your child in your arms. I don’t doubt that. I trust that I will love my baby with every ounce of my being. I trust that the maternal instincts will come. They just aren’t here yet, and they may very well not show up any time this pregnancy. 

Maybe it’ll take some time to bond with the little stranger inside of me. After all, his arrival is the biggest blind date of my life. It’s going to take some time to get to know each other. But that doesn’t change the fact that my pregnancy doesn’t feature the picture-perfect glow and immediate loving connection I once imagined. Regardless of the journey getting there, I’m his mom, and he is my son, and I love him already.