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.