Sarah sent me this incredibly brave email today about baby bonding, so I asked her if I could share it with you straight away.
I remember my anti-natal teacher warning us that after all the labour and the pushing and the exhaustion that when you are first handed your baby there is a chance that you won’t get that wave of love. The baby bond. For one thing, you’ve never met your baby before and for another, it was REALLY PAINFUL getting it out!
Sarah has been honest, so I will too. During labour I had feelings that I am ashamed of now. I was in so much pain while I was at home that I actually thought “I don’t care what happens to this baby, I just want it out”. And that shocked me afterwards, and also made me so cross that I was left on my own during this time and the reason why I will have either a Doula or an independent Midwife next time.
When he did finally come out, despite crying at every birth story I ever read, I didn’t cry. I was just relieved he was finally out and touched by Mike’s response. He was placed on my chest, which was awkward because I couldn’t really see him. Mike has THE WORST photo of me with a million chins trying to look down at him! And, I just kind of remember the overwhelming feeling was “this is a bit weird!” Within a few hours other feeling did take over and I was soon smitten and would cry like the soppiest person you ever met as I sang Beautiful Boy to him (by John Lennon). But, what happens if that feeling doesn’t come?
While I was pregnant with my first child, I had long chats with my neighbour whose son was about a year old at the time. I remember her saying that when she saw her son, she felt this amazing overwhelming love, fascination and pure devotion that hasn’t really gone away. At the time, I was a bit worried because I didn’t really feel pregnant. I felt like something was going to happen and I’d lose the baby. I’ve got type 1 diabetes, so my whole pregnancy was closely managed and I was seen every two weeks. I’d been warned about the dangers of being pregnant to me and the baby, but felt confident that we could get through it. When my daughter arrived, I had a terrible birth and she was delivered by c-section and went into SCBU.
When I saw her, I waited patiently for the overwhelming feeling my neighbour spoke of, but nothing. I felt like I was holding someone else’s baby. I couldn’t breastfeed her either, which I don’t think really helped and as the time went on that feeling still didn’t come.
In fact, I don’t think it ever did. Bit by bit, our relationship would move on – the first giggle, the first sleep through, weaning, the first solo sitting up, crawling, walking, but it wasn’t really until we were able to communicate that I started to feel like she was the most precious thing in my life.
With my second daughter, the same thing has happened. I’m not so worried about it, because it has happened before. She’s one now, and I definitely feel more bonded to my first daughter, who communicates well.
I think there are so many expectations put on new mums – breastfeeding, bonding, knowing what to do, but actually it’s really, really hard and sometimes things don’t go to plan.
Thank you Sarah xxx