When you don’t bond with your baby

Me, pregnantI believe that when we’re pregnant, we know expect we are going to bond with our baby. We love them when they are in our tummies so we can’t imagine how much we’re going to love them when we have them in our arms. This expectation is natural, and not always met.

When I had my first baby, my mind and body was pretty shocked. I didn’t feel the rush of hormones when a baby comes out naturally. I didn’t have skin to skin, I was drugged up, in stirrups and exhausted. When I looked at her I remember thinking “you don’t look like my baby”. It wasn’t what I was expecting to think or feel.

When we got home from the hospital I expected us to bond because I would be in familiar surroundings, we would be alone, a family. We didn’t. My healing was slow and painful. I couldn’t breastfeed. I could barely walk so taking care of her physically and emotionally was almost impossible. I was desperate to feel a bond that just wasn’t there. So I pretended – lied – to the people around me, petrified of what they might think if they knew how I felt. And then there was the guilt. The guilt which kept me trapped; trapped in the past and trapped in fear.

I don’t even remember when or how the bond started to develop and I know we’ve still got a way to go. I love her more now than I ever have but there are a few things I know I need to do in order to really bond connect with loving her as I know I can. Perhaps you might take something from this too…

Firstly, I need to forgive myself. What happened during and post-labour wasn’t my fault. She’s healthy, she’s happy, everything’s OK. I didn’t ‘get it wrong’ or ‘let her down’. Feeling guilty or afraid won’t help me to be a better mum, in fact it will stand in the way of me being the best mum I can be.

Secondly, I need to focus on the now. I have to stop dwelling on the past and what I could or should have done and I need to stop worrying about our relationship in the future. This doesn’t help her and it doesn’t help me. I will love her today and right now that’s the only thing that matters.

So, if like me, the initial bond with your baby isn’t (or wasn’t) there, don’t be afraid. They don’t need a ‘bond’, they need a mum (or dad) who is absolutely determined to love them in spite of everything. A mum (or dad) who is dedicated to learning how to better love them everyday. A mum who doesn’t care so much about bonding with their children, but cares only for their happiness. That’s real love.

Don’t judge me, I won’t judge you

Dont judge me2 I do it. You do it. We all do it.

As we listen and we watch… we judge.

Let’s stop.

There are no two mums the same. Even me and my sister who were raised by the same two parents and had children just a month apart take an entirely different approach to parenting. None of us know what’s best, we all do what we think is best for our child and for us. Some mums make decisions based on what’s right for their baby, and some make decisions based on what’s right for them. Some of us co-sleep while others put the baby in their own room at a few days old. Some mums breastfeed while others turn to the bottle (milk bottle). There are so many differences, in fact I even parent my second baby slightly differently to my first because I have changed so much in two years. I am not the same as I was two years ago, I am not the same as you.

We all have a different approach based on our upbringing, our personalities, our families, our personal preference, our experiences as people and as mums.

I read blogs that are written with humour, attacked by readers for appearing to be ungrateful parents. I read Twitter debates about Breastfeeding, peoples opinions being slated, a mum photographing another for doing something ‘wrong’.

It’s sad… and pretty pointless don’t you think?

Lets stop.

We all do what’s best for us, for our families and for our babies. We don’t know what another mum has gone through in her life, what she’s going through now. So how can we judge? We must simply accept that we are doing it differently.

I recently told someone of my decision not to breastfeed. She looked at me as though I had told her that I feed my kids chicken feet for breakfast. She probably did so without thinking, reacted without regard for how I might feel. And I realise I probably do the same thing too: react, judge, make another woman feel ‘less than’ when she’s doing what she feels is best. That’s why I’m writing this post. To remind us mums that what we think and feel, we show, and what we show, often hurts. We need to remember that our differences do not make any of us wrong, they make us unique. They gives us the opportunity to learn.

Let’s stop judging those who do things differently from us, let’s not silently criticise. Instead let’s accept each others decisions, learn from one another, let’s observe, let’s support.

So if you see me carrying a smelly baby in one hand and a crying toddler in the other, don’t judge me. If you see me making up my formula bottle, don’t judge me. If you see me in a stare, looking like I’m on (or wishing I was on) another planet, don’t judge me. Because when I see you doing something that’s different to me, when I see you having a bad day, I won’t judge you.

Deal?

 

What’s wrong with being wrong?

Delilah2As mums we all want to do a good job – of course. But there’s more to it than that; for many of us there’s also a fear of failing, of getting it wrong, of seriously screwing up our kids. And we probably will… My parents were amazing, perfect? No (sorry mum). They made mistakes which created behaviours and fears in me that I don’t particularly like. But they did the best they could, just like I am, just like you are.

I think we should embrace being wrong, talk freely about our mistakes, our fears, our true feelings. Let’s face it we’re all making mistakes, is it better to hide them away or share them? Hiding them won’t make you feel better, believe me I’ve tried. There’s a pretty good chance that other mums are making the exact same mistakes as you (or worse) and I feel much more connected to an honest mum, someone who trusts me with her ‘dark side’. Let’s not hide our mistakes, let’s own up and really connect. What’s wrong with being wrong? A cliché I know but getting it wrong is how we learn, how our children learn.

Here then are some of the mistakes I’ve made during my parenting (mainly with baby number one… poor thing):

  1. I was so afraid she might die without me in the room that I took her around the house with me: into the kitchen to make a cuppa, into the bathroom to have a wee… Everywhere. And guess what? She’s almost 3 and she hates being in a room on her own.
  2. At around 6 months I finally left her while I cleaned my teeth just once, and she fell off the bed
  3. I was much less afraid to leave baby number 2 but didn’t think not to leave the baby and the toddler alone… Toddler fed her a crisp at 2 weeks old and pulled her out of her bumbo and dropped her at 5 months.
  4. I once put baby 1 “safely” down in her car seat outside… right next to my sisters car exhaust while the car was running…
  5. I returned to work when baby 1 was three months old because I was “ready”. This is perfectly fine for some mums, there’s no judgement here. But I wasn’t really ready, I hadn’t yet adjusted to being a mum so no way was I ready to jiggle this and work. It didn’t go well.
  6. I was convinced that a ‘good mum’ was a fun mum therefore I played with baby 1 constantly and now I can’t go to the toilet without her asking when I’m coming back and what we will play
  7. I may have once or twice used the commonly used term: “Huh?” when I haven’t quite heard what someone has said and now the toddler says this same word after every single sentence… Sometimes before I’ve even finished the sentence.

I could go on… and on…

Some of my mistakes and wrong-doings were made out of fear (some just stupidity). And when I’m in fear of being wrong or causing my kids harm what am I teaching them? That I can’t be trusted to look after them, that they cannot be trusted to ‘survive’ or manage things by themselves, that being wrong is bad. Rubbish. I want to teach my girls courage, I want them to be (relatively) fearless, I want them to know that it doesn’t matter one bit if they make mistakes, get it wrong or in some way fail at anything.

Some of the things I’ve done wrong I can laugh at now (cried at the time) and others have had an impact on who my girls are becoming. Their behaviours and characters are being shaped by what I have done and said, what I continue to do… And you know what? No matter how wrong I get this, how badly I screw up at times it won’t make any difference to how much I love them. And I love them exactly as they are, odd habits and all. This means that no matter how wrong I get it, it can’t change how I feel about them. And that’s all they really need to know. My kids don’t need me to flawless, just to love them exactly as they are.

So I ask again, what’s wrong with being wrong? Huh? 😉