maman

Motherhood Myths: On Bonding With Bébé

Let’s talk about the idea that mothers immediately bond with their babies.

To be clear, I believe that many women form an intense and lasting emotional bond with their children from the moment of conception, shortly after the birth, and during the early months of the child’s life. This, however, was not true for me.

Does this mean I didn’t love my daughter? Of course not. I simply remained reserved about truly feeling bonded to her. I did my best to remain chill during the pregnancy. I had a glass of wine here and there, took frequent naps, and did my best not to think about everything that go wrong with the little life growing inside me. In many ways, I was afraid to be excited about her since that would make losing her that much more painful.

me preggo

30 weeks preggo

My pregnancy was largely uneventful and as her “arrival” became more and more imminent, – and I use imminent because labor seemed like unfathomable torture – I found myself questioning how I could be a good mom if I didn’t feel bonded to her already. This feeling didn’t pass once she was born. She looked completely different from how I had imagined and, to be honest, she resembled a little alien. It’s only now at nine months that she’s beginning to act and look a bit more like me and, in the early months, I felt incredibly frustrated and guilty that I somehow needed to see myself in her to truly feel that bond.

ines born

Immediately after the birth of my daughter, Inés Elodie

As the months went on, we sleep trained, took her out and about, and found fun ways to entertain our new little person. Inés has always been a pensive little girl, so the fact that she rarely smiled at me didn’t help my insecurity concerning our “bond.” There were low times where I felt like the worst mom alive – especially during sleep training and the “cry-it-out” nights – but I’ve come to realize in these short nine months that Inés is – and will always be – her own person. But she’s my little person.

Of course, this realization developed out of being vulnerable and talking, talking, talking. In retrospect, I can see that this active decision to talk had a particular logic that I’d like to share here.

Here’s what I did:

  • Found and met with a therapist weekly who accepted my insurance and was attentive to my emotional needs.
  • Talked to my mom at length about her thoughts on my brutally honest fears and concerns.
  • Requested and accepted encouragement from my husband and asked him to talk about his own insecurities about being new parents.
  • Openly asked for advice from a friend and colleague with four awesome kiddos of her own.

By being open and vulnerable to a few amazing people, I have been able to realize that bonding with a child is rarely an instantaneous event; rather, this emotional bond, like any other, develops over time by getting to know the person. In this case, that person is my daughter and I can honestly say that I love her more than ever. Does that mean that I always feel bonded to her? No, it doesn’t. But I can say that when I see her little smile that I’m excited about spending each day getting to know her better. And to me, that’s way better than some mythical idea of “bonding.”

ines and maman

my little booger butt at 9 months 🙂

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply Samar October 4, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    I really appreciate that you wrote this. My other new mom friends are so defensive about their instant and unconditional love for their newborns, it seems artificial and makes me less trusting of them. Thanks for your candor!

  • Reply Christina May 20, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Oh my word. I needed this.

    • Amanda Rico
      Reply Amanda Rico May 24, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      I’m so glad it helped, Christina. It seems like everyone has an opinion that they shove at you when you first have a baby and it can be tough to determine if you’re “normal” or going crazy! I found from researching the topic online when I was going through some rough times that no one really wanted to talk about this topic. In fact, I saw that many people were openly hostile to women who talked about not feeling bonded to their kiddos and that’s inexcusable. Be on the lookout for more honest mom moments in the ‘maman’ category this upcoming week and don’t hesitate to PM me if you’re struggling with something! 🙂

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