BBC reporter Claire Graham beams with joy as she hugs her little girl and wonders how she could ever have had no feelings for her.
But after giving birth to Lara two-and-a-half years ago, Claire was overwhelmed with emotional pain because she could not feel love for her much-longed-for baby.
A confident, outgoing, social and chatty person, the old Claire seemed to have disappeared during childbirth as post-natal anxiety and depression hit the then 27-year-old with devastating impact.
"My whole sense of who I was had gone," she admits.
She adds: "I just felt nothing. When my daughter was set on my chest, I could feel her feet tickling my belly and it wasn't what I thought it would be.
"From that instant I just thought: 'What have I done?' It was as extreme as that."
Now 33 weeks pregnant with her second child, Claire still carries guilt about her feelings even though they are a common symptom of post-natal depression.
Now, to try and make sense of the illness, which strikes one in four women here, she has bravely opened up about her own experience and interviewed other parents for a new documentary to be aired today on Radio Ulster.
Mother Courage - Pushing Prams in the Dark is a stark and poignant look at the pain mothers suffer after birth when post-natal mental illness strikes.
Two years on from her experience Claire meets women from across Northern Ireland who have fought their own battles with post-natal mental health and discovers that loving your child doesn't always begin at birth.
In what is a powerful and emotive programme, she also looks at how the stigma of the 'baby blues' can be broken, explores what help is out there, and asks: why does motherhood mark such a change in a woman's life, in her heart and in her head?
Claire, who is married to Will Pidgeon (29), a digital marketing consultant, was working as a reporter on BBC Radio Five Live in Manchester when she gave birth.
"I was really delighted to be pregnant and so excited and had a good pregnancy. I was fit and healthy up until the end," she says.
"I come from a big family and I have always loved children. People kept telling me I would be a natural mum.
"But I had a tough labour that lasted 34 hours and when the baby was put on my chest I felt nothing."
Claire had no experience of suffering from mental health issues and in those first weeks she struggled to understand her anxiety and the feelings of fear which overwhelmed her.
The worst part for her was that she hadn't bonded with her baby and had no idea why.
"There is this social pressure to bond with your baby and it didn't happen for me until maybe she was six months old," she explains. "I did ask my husband: 'When will I love her the way you love her?'
"Other people saw this happy mum but I was playing a role. I started to question my own purpose and started to think that if I disappeared no one would even notice. I thought my baby doesn't need me, she would be well looked after.
"The old Claire just started to disappear and the guilt I feel now is heartbreaking. I worry about the impact those early months could have had on Lara, knowing her mum was so detached."
Being away from family because she was living in Manchester, Claire was surrounded by a team of midwives and health visitors who supported her so much they became almost like a second family.
Initially they suspected she had a case of the baby blues, which would soon go away. With their encouragement, when her daughter was six weeks old Claire went to her GP and was diagnosed with post-natal anxiety and depression.
"I didn't even know there was such a thing as post-natal anxiety," she says. "It was all new to me and such a life change and I felt very isolated, as I didn't expect that to be thrown into the mix. Every day that I didn't feel that bond with my baby I had this terrible guilt and depression.
"At the same time I was like a mother lioness, jumping up to look after her as soon as she cried and doing the best job possible for her. I later discovered that is a typical symptom of post-natal depression.
"I dreaded night feeds and would have had panic attacks at the thought of them. It was a physical feeling in my body caused by worry about how I was going to cope. I know now that was a symptom, too. It just wasn't me and it was like Claire had gone and this shell remained. That time went by in a horrific blur."
As she struggled to understand what was going on, Claire cut herself off from her friends as she didn't want to admit her feelings to anyone else.
"Stigma stifled my recovery in some ways," she says. "I didn't feel the love I should for my baby and I didn't want people to judge me for that.
"That's why I decided to do the documentary, because I believe I should be able to talk about it and I want my daughter to grow up and understand that mum wasn't very well, but she got help.
"There is no shame in speaking out - and unfortunately I did feel shame.
"I still do feel very guilty that I did not have the feelings I should have had for my baby when she was born. I have to tell myself every day that it's not about guilt but an illness, and that's something I've had to accept."
Claire was given medication for anxiety and slowly she started to recover. But it wasn't until Lara was six months old that she really started to bond with her and to enjoy the feelings of love of which her illness had cheated her.
She says: "I don't think I will ever feel my old self again, but I am very happy and very much in love with my daughter.
"My daughter is so funny and chatty and she's gorgeous. I feel really blessed to have her."
Despite having always wanted a big family, when Claire was in the early stages of recovery she was convinced she would never have another child.
Now, she is delighted to be pregnant once more, even though she knows she is at a high risk of developing post-natal mental illness again.
If it does happen, however, she hopes that she will be better prepared.
She says: "Even when Lara was six months old I said I wouldn't have another child. When friends told me they were pregnant I felt sorry for them because they would be going down that awful path.
"It was a period of darkness which I believe has defined me for the rest of my life.
"But I realised post-natal depression was holding me back from having the family I had always wanted and I couldn't let that happen.
"Now I am 33 weeks pregnant and I am very excited about my next baby coming."
The fact the couple are back living in Northern Ireland also helps, says Claire.
"This time we are back home close to family in Belfast and I feel more prepared.
"I'm buying nappies and I am physically and mentally healthy, and thankfully excitement has overtaken the fear," she adds. "I do dread feeling like that again but I have to focus on how time goes by so quickly when you have a little one. I've learnt that if you raise your hand and say you need help, then people will help you. Fingers crossed, I've turned a corner."
Claire credits her BBC NI producer Grania McFadden with helping her to put together a powerful documentary to highlight the impact of post-natal depression on new mums.
She talked to mothers from both rural and urban areas to find out if support was different depending on where you live. Finding parallels with her own story was both a surprise and a comfort to her.
She says: "I learnt a lot from it. Speaking to other mums was a real eye-opener. Some of the scenarios they described completely mirrored what I had experienced when at the time I thought I was the only one.
"I'm so excited for people to listen to it and hopefully they, too, might hear something that clicks for them. The parents I interviewed were so brave and so honest and impressive. I am incredibly grateful to them for taking part."
There are 22,000 births every year here, and one in four women will suffer post-natal depression.
Claire hopes that the documentary will not only inspire other parents to seek help if they need it, but also help to break down the stigma of post-natal depression. She is also hopeful there will be more government support when it comes to tackling the issue.
She adds: "In his new mental health action plan Robin Swann has promised to provide special services for post-natal depression. In Northern Ireland 80% of mums don't have access to specialist services.
"There are no mother-and-baby units here, although there are in the rest of the UK. A lot more needs to be done but Robin Swann has made a promise to improve that and we are relying on him delivering it."
Stories in Sounds: Mother Courage - Pushing Prams in the Dark, BBC Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle, today, noon. It is also available on BBC Sounds