Patrick O’Malley from New Zealand was surprised when his daughter Lola Rose was born.
The Auckland native (30) had been expecting to feel instant love for her, but instead he struggled to connect with her. He even wondered if there was something wrong with him.
Fast forward three years and Lola is his world, but he still feels guilty for not feeling that way from the start.
So he wrote a letter to Lola explaining it all.
“177 weeks. 88 fortnights. 40 months. 3 years. This is how long I have loved you,” begins the letter.
“You were born a baby. Deep, I know. But it’s important. If I had known how much I would grow to love you, I would have tried to capture the moment of your birth eloquently.”
Describing her birth as long, Patrick admits that he was “terrified” before saying, “if only I had known how much I would love you.”
But he didn’t. Not straight away, and after realising that it’s not uncommon for other parents to feel this way, he posted the letter to Facebook.
“Some parents instantly fall in love and others take time for that flame to alight,” he wrote. “Is that an awful thing to say? Or is it so expected that we feel an instant connection with our children, that society puts us in a position of feeling like an inadequate person?”
“If only I had known what would make my heart explode. Make tears well in my eyes, make my throat contract as I swallow this bulging lump.”
As the letter goes on, he admits that he had been “afraid to have a girl.”
“I didn’t know what to do with girls,” he wrote. “Was I going to be a good parent? My male role model hadn’t been a positive addition to my life, can I be a positive influence in hers? A million thoughts, feelings and emotions clouding my vision. Subtracting away from this miracle.”
In the end, he realises that he’d loved her all along.
“When did I fall in love with you? From the moment I first met you. I just didn’t know it yet.”
While fear played its part in preventing Patrick from having that instant bond, it’s also the fact that men don’t carry the child.
That said, he shared the letter for the benefit of all parents – both mums and dads.
“It’s important to show people that it’s normal to not have it right away and that females can feel this way too,” he told The Daily Mail.
As he says, “you don’t know how much each moment will mean later on.”
Patrick said that he learned his lesson with Lola, and is savouring every moment with his seven-month-old son, Arlo.