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Why Don’t You Go Downstairs and Carve an Ice Sculpture Out of Your Heart?*

By Hildie Westenhaver

There are people who like to keep their hearts locked up for safe-keeping.  Very few are admitted to the inner sanctum. There’s no risk of heartbreak if hardly anyone goes near your heart. That’s how I am.  At least that’s how I used to be.

Much like the Grinch on Christmas morning, my crusty petrified heart eventually broke free. 

A few days before delivering my first child, the women in my office were talking about babies, the usual topic when there is a pregnant woman nearby.   Most had never had children, so all our baby information was second-hand.  Except for Robin.  She, with her two young children, was the great matriarch of our workplace. 

Robin’s single piece of advice to all of us women standing there was strange. “Don’t worry if you don’t love your baby right away.” She said blithely. “It will happen eventually.”  

 A week later I stood above the crib of my tiny pink daughter.  I felt a primal need to protect her and keep her safe.  But the adoration that people talk about feeling when they see their new baby?  It wasn’t there. 

Instead I felt frustration with my inability to get that girl to breastfeed.  I felt anger about having my life turned upside down. I felt anxiety about possibly ruining this perfect child that Heavenly Father had entrusted to me. I felt fear about all the things that could possibly harm her (House fire?  Kidnappers?  SIDS?) In short this baby was a key to all the bad emotions I could think of.

But at the back of my mind I kept repeating Robin’s words like a mantra, “Don’t worry. It’ll happen eventually.”

One of our Heavenly Father’s greatest gifts is the love a parent feels for a child.  It can be a terrifying thing, to feel so strongly about another human.  To have their soul soldered, unbreakably, to your own.  Especially if your goal, up to this point, has been to keep people at arm’s length to avoid any sort of rejection or complicated emotions.

My first six weeks postpartum were grueling, as any new mother will tell you.  No sleep, wacky hormones, utter cluelessness and a husband who felt lost in the shuffle were a nasty cocktail.  But perhaps it was in that exhausted, debilitated state that I was finally broken down enough to let the Lord do His job; to crack open my heart and let the pure sunshine of unconditional love beam in.  I finally realized the joy that comes with welcoming another person into my soul. 

Robin was right. Despite my fear and anxiety about loving someone with every breath, it happened.  And the most beautiful and terrifying and amazing part is that it never stops happening.  


* My husband actually said these words to me many years ago. Ouch.

About Hildie Westenhaver

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves.

10 thoughts on “Why Don’t You Go Downstairs and Carve an Ice Sculpture Out of Your Heart?*”

  1. i'm just the opposite: i wear it on my sleeve. i can't handle contention. i cry at the drop of a hat.

    and… i loved my baby from the very first slimy minute. still, i can't tell you how many people told me they didn't feel baby love at first sight, and my husband was one of them.

    this hurt me at first but then i found he did grow to love her– and in the process, both of our hearts changed.

    they grew.

  2. I'm still laughing at your title and that your husband actually said this to you. I was pretty closed up when it came to men, but it was much easier to love our baby. I think, with the whole adoption thing, there was a little hesitancy to let myself believe it was really going to happen the several days we hung out with ds in the hospital before the papers were signed. But the love was there.

  3. Sorry, I'm the sensitive, heart on my sleeve type too. But not as much as I used to be. As I've gotten older I've found peace in keeping more of my feelings to myself. I used to think everyone would understand and share and be friendly, now that I know that isn't always the case I hold my most special feelings close. So I'm moving to your side of the fence.

  4. After 4 years of infertility and tens of thousands of dollars of IVF treatments, I expected to be the mother crying tears of joy on the delivery table. I wasn't. I was really tired and really hungry and all I really wanted was for someone to take the babies away, give me some breakfast, and let me sleep for about 12 hours. It was kind of embarrassing.
    But then again, I've never been an overtly emotional person. My husband has said things to me about this as well, he's way more emotional than I am.
    But the heart-wringing love surely did come, and hasn't let up since. My feeling for my children gives me the closest comparison to how (I hope) my Heavenly Father feels about me. Even when I don't always feel His love (just as I suppose my kids sometimes doubt my love for them when I'm forcing them to finish their math problems or pick up their toys), I know of my constant, abiding passion for my kids and I have faith that He feels that for me, too.

  5. I guess I'm a mixed bag. I'm not the "wear my heart on my sleeve type" but I have felt immediate love for each of my children from the moment they are born.

    This was especially true with my first – I was so overcome it was shocking to me. It's probably a good thing since I had such a hard time with every other aspect of new motherhood. I probably would have run back to work within the first couple of weeks and never looked back if I didn't have this mind-boggling desire to cuddle my firstborn.

  6. I'm with you, Gabrielle. I guess I'm just a more private person, not necessarily less emotional. But what I really agree with is your comment on Heavenly Father's love. I knew he loved me, but I really had no idea HOW he loved me until I had my own children. What a blessing, to be given such a lovely object lesson. 🙂

  7. The day after my son was born, I was in a postnatal class at the hospital with another mom. We compared babies, and I remember thinking that we were comparing dolls. It was weird. I did think my baby was the most beautiful child in the room, though, so something was definitely there. But I was so tired, so trashed, so drained, that I didn't really connect with him right away. I felt the same way with my second, and didn't even have the added benefit of her being cute (c'mon, let's just say it–not all newborns are cute.) I actually remembered my indifference to my son, so I was less worried this time. And, by the third day in the hospital, when they took my daughter away and didn't bring her back for 3 hours and didn't tell me where they had taken her–"Oh, didn't you know we took her to X-ray? There's a problem with her foot" and I was livid, I actually remember thinking, "Wow. I really do love her after all."

    I think bonding is different for every woman, and I wish that we would talk about that more, that it will happen at different times and in different ways for mothers. So thanks for this, Jennie.


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