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.
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.
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.”
my little booger butt at 9 months 🙂