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Do you remember how you felt the first 24 hours after you had your baby? Maybe you were exhausted after a long labor and delivery. Excited to finally see and hold your little love nugget. Freaked out that you're actually responsible for another person's life. Or, simply, full of love.

Time has a funny way of softening a memory's hard edges, but a photograph does not. In her forthcoming book One Day Young in Hackney, British photog Jenny Smith captured 40 new moms and their babies in the first 24 hours after birth (h/t Cosmopolitan.com). It's a tender, unvarnished look at this most personal of times, when a woman takes her first shaky steps into motherhood. Some of the mamas look serene (and surprisingly well rested!), while others seem a little overwhelmed. But they all brought me back to that terrifyingly wonderful day when I cradled my newborn son and felt, if not yet love, a consuming desire to protect and nurture.

The book, which took five years to complete, was a labor of love for Smith, who says she just wanted to shine a light on the positive aspects of childbirth. "My aim was to capture the extraordinary bonding, warmth and strength between mother and infant," she explains in a press release. "In fact the whole range of amazing emotions felt at that time, as the mothering instinct kicks in. I find the collection of images defiant and beautiful, challenging the expected vision of those first 24 hours, a pure celebration of what it means to be a mother."

Here are a few photographs from the book—can you see yourself in any of them?

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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Photos originally appeared in One Day Young by Jenny Lewis, published by Hoxton Mini Press, and featured with permission of Jenny Lewis