I think we can agree that pregnancy and birth are two unique experiences in a woman’s life. There are so many feelings flooding you that it can certainly be overwhelming. I never had so many contradicting feelings in my life. I was happy but afraid of the unknown; I was excited but nervous about how my life was about to change, I was in awe about how my body was changing but worried that I wouldn’t get that same body back. Above all, I was eager and waiting for that bonding with baby moment to occur.
I had read countless articles and other moms’ stories of how they bonded with their babies while pregnant, and when the moment finally came, and they got to hold their newborn they felt this overwhelming love.
Okay, so I didn’t exactly bond with my baby while pregnant.
Don’t get me wrong. I was excited at the thought of having a little human of my own. But to me, it was challenging to feel that profuse love for someone that I couldn’t see or touch. And although I could feel him alright, connecting with my child took longer than I expected.
Chance had it that several of my friends were pregnant at the same time. I remember some of them posting photos on social media with captions along the lines of “I am hopelessly in love with my baby” or “I feel so much love that it hurts”.
And there I was with my perfectly round bump not feeling that. I felt somewhat strange, but I brushed it off, thinking that baby bonding time will come after I give birth, and I get to hold my angel.
Little did I know that this wasn’t going to happen.
I worked for most of my pregnancy. Being a teacher and working mostly with young children meant that I was super active on a daily basis. Not to mention doing routine housework as my husband was away quite often on business.
So I ‘blamed’ my lack of immense love on the fact that I had quite a hectic life.
I was one of those lucky moms-to-be who had an easy-breezy pregnancy: no morning sickness, no pains whatsoever. So, for the first part of my pregnancy, before the bump became visible and my little sergeant started the drill exercises in there, I didn’t feel any different. I would be reminded that I’m cooking a human when I’d go for a check-up and see him on the ultrasound.
In my mind, this was another reason why bonding with baby didn’t happen so soon.
Thinking about it now, 39 weeks flew by just like that. Perhaps, as all moms know, the longest month was the last one when I couldn’t do much, and I had to take it easy. Even so, I was full of excitement, I loved buying things for my baby, and I spend some time arranging and organizing his nursery.
And then, the moment came.
I gave birth to a perfect little boy on a sunny autumn afternoon. I was absolutely exhausted from the pain. One of the nurses showed him to me, I gave him a quick kiss on the head, and then they took him away.
I remember that, even though I was worn out, I could feel the surge of adrenaline flowing through me.
Soon after that, we both got to the hospital room where we stayed for the next two days.
I thought that bonding with baby would happen automatically.
I thought that the moment I saw him, I would be hopelessly in love, just like the other moms. But it didn’t happen for me.
What did I feel? I felt extremely agitated (all that adrenaline I guess), I felt absolutely drained and yet I couldn’t sleep, I felt scared, I was sore, but above all, I had this overwhelming feeling of…duty. This little human was ENTIRELY relying on me for EVERYTHING. My actions meant his survival. It doesn’t get more serious than this.
Among all that sea of feelings, one was missing: the immense love.
It took me nearly six months to fully connect with my child.
My son was a terribly colicky baby. The poor soul would cry for hours on end. This happened every day for three months. So for his first 12 weeks of life, I feel that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy him. I was constantly tired, worried and alone.
I started wondering whether I was a good mom, whether I was even meant to be a mom. What kind of mother doesn’t feel like her baby is her world?? Surely there must be something wrong with me.
It also took me a while to adjust to the fact that I couldn’t do many of the things that I did before, like watching my favourite TV shows, eating when I wanted, going out and so on. My life had irremediably changed. It is difficult to admit, but sometimes I resented my baby for this. And this, in turn, made me cry so much because I thought that something was wrong with me and that I was a bad mother.
How did bonding with baby happen so quickly for my friends and other moms?
Well, the truth is, after a long while, when I built up the courage to talk openly about this, it turns out that, for some of them, bonding with baby didn’t happen instantly either. Like me, they had a profound feeling of duty and the urge to protect that helpless little being, but the feeling of absolute love and attachment came later ( I later found out that about “20% of new moms and dads feel no real emotional attachment to their newborn in the hours after delivery“)
It’s just that this is not a very popular topic for fear that people might judge you and put a stigma on you. It’s difficult to admit it even to yourself. The feeling of guilt weighs hard on your soul.
But now that I’ve been through all of it and came out on the other side feeling that my little boy is my world I know that even though connecting with my child didn’t happen instantly, it did happen in the end, and it is an unbreakable bond.
I think it’s important to know that it is different for each of us. We are different, and our situations are different. Some moms will feel that wave of boundless love right away, while for others, this will happen later. This doesn’t make you an unfit mother by any means! It’s just the way nature works.
So, if someone asks me “Did bonding with baby happen for you immediately?” my answer is “No, it didn’t”. And it’s okay. For us, it came later and now I couldn’t imagine life without him.
To all the moms who didn’t immediately connect with their babies, for whichever reason, with the risk of repeating myself, I want to stress this:
You are a great mom, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you! Baby bonding time will come, don’t worry!