“I Never Felt a Connection With Her,” the Story of How Serena Williams Discovered Love for Her Daughter After Her Pregnancy
Serena Williams is not only a tennis star, but also a very open celebrity who has had to share different aspects of her personal life with her followers. She is also a warrior who has shown her most human side by talking about the physical and mental health challenges that she has experienced as a mother. She has made visible what many previously kept on the dark for fear of being criticized, and has empathized with many women who have gone through similar situations.
Bright Side wants to share with you Serena’s brave confession about her pregnancy and how she lived the first days with her baby daughter. We can’t admire more her resilience and tenacity to move forward and be an exemplary mom.
She learned resilience at a young age.
Since she was a child, Serena’s father, Richard Williams, decided to raise her and his other children in what he called “the values of the triangle of life: commitment, confidence and courage”. Something that seems very simple, but that gave Selena the tools to be able to face with resilience future challenges in her personal and professional life.
Then she faced health issues.
Serena first picked up a tennis racket at the age of 3. Since she was a little girl, the sport had an important physical impact on her: “I sprained my ankles, broke my knees, played with a bandaged Achilles heel and abandoned half the game because of back spasms”.
In 2011, she suffered a pulmonary embolism, which left her in a critical situation. She has suffered, as she herself has said, every injury imaginable, “I know my body”.
A life of dreams
Then 2017 arrived and everything seemed peachy for Serena. In that year she became the tennis player with the most Grand Slam titles to her credit in the Open Era (since 1968) with 23 trophies. In September, she became a mother and in November she got married in a beautiful wedding to the entrepreneur and co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, with whom she had been dating since 2015. Everything appeared to be perfect, but the story of her childbirth would turn out to be rather peculiar.
Chronicle of an unannounced pregnancy
Serena found out she was pregnant 2 days before the Australian Open. Now, the body that she knew so well and that had paid allegiance to her for many years would be devoted entirely to caring for and nurturing the new life gestating inside her.
During the first trimester, Serena had headaches and a strange taste of iron in her mouth, but nothing alarming. “I had a wonderful pregnancy. I guess I’m one of those women who like being pregnant. I enjoyed the positive attention, as I’m used to the criticism and negative attention I get from the media.”
The arrival of a new light to her life
Serena confessed that she became obsessed with having her daughter born in September, so she was given a pill to induce labor in late August. The contractions came, “and it was great! I know that’s not what people are supposed to say, but I was enjoying labor. I was living in the moment. I loved the cramping, feeling my body trying to get the baby out.” However, Olympia’s heartbeat began to rise and fall. The time had come for a cesarean section.
Serena really wanted a natural childbirth, but she knew it wasn’t meant to be: “I’ve had so many surgeries, what was another one? Being an athlete is about constantly controlling your body, exerting its power, but it’s also about knowing when to give up. I was happy and ready to let go; the energy in the OR totally changed. We went from being in an intense and seemingly never-ending process to a clear plan to bring this baby into the world.”
She made her voice heard
After the C-section, Serena felt suffocated. She couldn’t breathe, so she started coughing to get more air, but she coughed so hard that the C-section wound would open up again. She had to be operated a second time.
She knew something was wrong, so she asked the medical staff to test her lungs, but they paid little attention. She insisted until the doctor ran some tests and found a clot in her lungs. Fortunately, she was heard and underwent a third surgery. She was exhausted, but it was all over.
Serena was nervous about meeting Olympia, her beautiful baby girl. “Throughout my pregnancy, I never felt a connection with her. While I loved being pregnant, I didn’t go through that incredible ’Oh my God, this is my baby,’ ever. It’s something people don’t often talk about, because we’re supposed to be in love from the first second.
Yes, I was a lioness who would protect her baby at all costs, but I wasn’t excited about her. Throughout the pregnancy, I kept expecting to feel like I already knew her, but that feeling never came. Some of my mom friends told me they didn’t feel the connection in utero either, which made me feel better, but still, I longed for it.”
Deep love and devotion to her daughter
But what Serena felt for Olympia when she saw her was love at first sight: “When I finally saw her, I already knew she was going to be a girl, even before we confirmed it, I loved her right away. It wasn’t exactly instantaneous, but it was there, and from that seed, it grew. I couldn’t stop looking at her, my Olympia.”
What would you say to a mother-to-be who has gone through what Serena went through, how would you accompany her during this process of meeting her new baby?