THE Beast started walking this week, just like that, all by himself.

He returned from his holidays down in Wexford on Tuesday, pulled himself up on the sofa and just took off towards me, not a bother on him.

Like a drunk uncle at a wedding he tottered and weaved and swayed but managed to stay on his feet and by his second or third try he was already running.

Two days later and he’s almost an expert. Next stop the Olympics – seriously, I’m going to become one of those pushy parents who insist that their kids actually LIKE alfalfa sprouts and doing 17 hours of training a day. Love it so they do.

It’s been a funny week because by his sudden progress to walking, my son has taught me a valuable lesson. About baby steps.

He’s almost 16 months and truth be told we had been getting a little anxious that he hadn’t shown any interest in walking. I’m a member of a few different parenting groups and forums and most of their little ones around the same age as Seán were up and walking by 12 months.

One mother I know turned around one day to see her nine month old casually strolling around the kitchen. Now THAT kid is destined for a bright future.

But Seán, not so much. He was perfectly content to bum around the place, shuffling as fast as his arse would allow him, not a notion of using his legs at all. He took his first independent steps about six weeks ago, got a bit of a fright and point blank refused to do it again, until this week.

Of course, rationally I knew that there was nothing wrong with him, but I was getting impatient. All it amounted to however was Seán doing things his way, at his own pace, nothing more, nothing less. Baby steps.

When I realised this, something clicked in my own head, something that had been niggling away in there, compounded by an article I read in a newspaper about childbirth.

Among other things, the article asserted that women feel ‘euphoric’ after giving birth, full of pride and accomplishment and that birth opens a ‘trapdoor’ of emotion and love in you that you didn’t know you possessed.

That had annoyed me because I hadn’t felt that after giving birth. In fact I hadn’t felt very much at all. I felt simply relieved that it was all over.

I had an emergency c-section so spent a couple of hours in recovery before being brought up to the ward and being reunited with my husband and baby. In the recovery room, I slept. I felt happy, of COURSE I did, that I had a baby, but I wasn’t pining for him. I could happily have stayed in recovery another few hours, it was warm and peaceful in there.

I felt tired and sore and sick and stiff up on the ward, and very overwhelmed that I was going to have to look after this tiny baby, when I still couldn’t feel my legs. I remember holding him in my arms, looking down at his perfect peachy little face, smiling and saying to my husband: ‘Hand me that basin, I’m going to puke.’ That’s how it was for his first few hours.

When the nurse arrived to ask if I wanted the baby brought down to the nursery for a while so that I could sleep off the epidural, I jumped (not literally) at the chance and handed him off to her. He was about six hours old at that stage, but it truly didn’t cross my mind to keep him with me. I needed the rest and time to recover.

When I got out of hospital, as I’ve written about before, I unfortunately suffered from post natal depression as well as a sudden bout of acute pancreatitis so again wasn’t able to give myself 100 per cent to my son. I entrusted him to family while I sorted myself out.

At that stage while I knew that something deep and primal within in me loved my son, with all my heart, I hadn’t yet fallen IN love with him. That took longer to come.

That bond, that feeling that your heart is so full that it might explode from love, came later. Much later.

I have, at times, beaten myself up about this. How could I not be in love with my own flesh and blood? How could I not want to spend every waking moment with him? How could I put myself first, when I should have been sacrificing myself for him?

The only answer I have is that it’s what I had to do, to get through. Love for me was a slow burn, I had to give it time to grow, forcing it wouldn’t work.

Now this week as I watch my son literally walking to the beat of his own drum I can say that I’m in love with my son, that the bond of motherhood holds us together in her silken web, that he is an extension of me.

It took time. It took me doing things at my own pace, just like my son. It took those around me giving me that time. It took baby steps.

Baby steps.

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