Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love At First Sight?

Since I was a little girl I have been “in love” with the idea of becoming a mother which is why I was heartbroken when told that I will most likely never have bio children. When I finally came to the realization that being a mother and being pregnant were the most important things to me, I was ready to forge ahead with DE. One of my worries about using DE was that I wouldn’t love or be able to bond with the baby. Once I found out I was finally pregnant, these feelings disappeared. I was instantly in love with the life growing inside of me.

Well, this has changed. These last couple of days, I have been struggling with the idea that I am not feeling that “love at first sight” bond with my son. I have been feeling guilty and embarrassed by this idea. Why don’t I feel bonded with my son? Is it post-partum depression (PPD)? Or is it something else?

I think there is a big misconception about how we are supposed to feel after having a child. Hollywood has portrayed this relationship as something that instantly happens. Once the baby comes out you are “in love.” When pregnant, you hear from all your “mommy” friends about how great it is to be a parent. Are they all lying or is it something else?

This week, I dropped by work to finish some paperwork and my coworkers were badgering me with questions about being a mother. I didn’t know how to answer. I knew I was supposed to be excited and loving every minute of it, but I just couldn’t shake this disconnected feeling.

After reading a blog by Dawn Davenport titled “The Myth of Love at First Sight,” I decided it was my turn to talk about the feelings that I have been hiding from those around me. The most important piece of advice I got was that love isn’t always instant and that it will grow with time, just like any good relationship.

I have been rationalizing my feelings since my son’s birth and I have narrowed it down to three things: emergency c-section, NICU and DE. This combination of events has added to my lack of bonding with my son. Last night was the first time I admitted to myself and my DH that I was feeling this way. I was a crying mess and DH assured me that these feelings were normal. I also opened up to a dear friend and she agreed that part of it could be due to the c-section and NICU but also told me to make sure I speak to my OB if it doesn’t get better. My friend is worried that I might have PPD. At this point, I don’t think it is PPD but I have promised her that if it gets worse then I will contact my doctor.

I really think the c-section and NICU stay affected my feeling of bonding because that first mothering experience I was looking forward to didn’t happen until 24 hours after my son was born. During the actual c-section I knew that after Ant was checked by the nurses, they would bring him back to me for his first feeding. This was going to be the sealing of our bond. Due to all the craziness with Ant’s glucose, this didn’t happen. Also, most new parents are able to spend their first few nights together with their child in the hospital. They have time to get to know each other but still have the support of the hospital staff. For us, there was no baby in our room; just the sounds of me pumping every few hours. Would it have been that different if these things had never happened? Maybe? Or maybe not. I could keep wondering, or I could choose to just move forward and continue bonding with Ant. My son.


  1. susan, i am so sorry you are dealing with these feelings and that you've had to deal with them on your own. they talked about this in our birth class and said it was very normal.

    i remember i did not truly feel like a "mother" until 3 or 4 days after naomi was born. the first few days especially in the hospital were a blur of exhaustion, physical discomfort, and failing attempts to nurse. i remember the moment when i finally felt like a mother. i had driven to cvs in the middle of the night to buy a bottle and formula--naomi was so hungry and the nursing was not going well. i flew home, we prepared the bottle, and as i fed her the bottle in our rocking chair, i will never forget her eyes looking up at me with such love, almost saying "thank you mama!" THEN i felt like a mother...finally nourishing my baby.

    i know as you continue to make new memories with ant that you will feel closer and closer to your son. you are doing a great job with everything you have gone through. hugs!

  2. Susan, I am sorry for the myriad of thoughts and feelings you are having. Take a deep breath, slowly let it out and then go gaze at the baby that you moved heaven and earth to bring into this world. I am guessing the unexpected whirlwind that happened at his birth is contributing to this all.

    I recall feeling strange when I brought my son home. He was sleeping in his cradle and i looked around and was like, now what? I felt like me, not like a mommy. Then when my husband went back to work, it was just me and him and I still wasn't sure what to do with him. I nursed on demand, snuggled and all that other stuff, but it felt weird. I don't recall the specific turning point. I think it was about 4 weeks into my maternity leave and I realized I had to go back in 2 more and he needed me. He needed my nursing him, he was happier in my arms than my husbands. How could I leave him at a sitters? Total breakdown and turning point.

    Your friend is right, monitor yourself and if it continues just call your OBGYN. Take care of you, take care of Ant. Sending thoughts your way.

  3. I sure hope it's normal, because I STILL have days when I think, "who is this kid and when is his family going to take him home?"

    I think I can safely say I didn't feel like I was "bonding" with Daniel until he started smiling (around 6 weeks). Until then, I was a sad, tired milk machine who could have just as easily been caring for someone else's baby.

    I remember talking with my mom about this one day, and she said she felt the same way. She was never much of a "baby person," and she was always looking forward to having kids but not necessarily to having a baby. There was the benefit that, unlike many parents, she was never disappointed when a child grew out of a certain phase of life. She was always glad to see us growing up. What she said to me made me feel far better than anything else: "I love my kids a little more every day."

    That's what you're doing, Susan. You love Anthony a little bit more every day. And that's a very, very good thing.

  4. It's totally totally totally normal. Hormones are a really really strong thing. That coupled with a section -- and sleep deprivation.

    Trust me 90 days from now you will be totally in the groove:)

    And let's face it we are meeting a stranger and there are worries about that. I worried if my son would like me:) ha ha.

    Give me a call or email me if you need support.

    Hugs, Marna

  5. It took me about 3 weeks to feel an overwhelming love for my son. I had an uncomfortable pregnancy and a c-section. Then I had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding. I think what you are feeling is normal.

  6. HI Susan, I'm new to the blog (great by the way). I have secondary infertility, my son is 9. I remarried at 37 and we soon found out I had ovarian failure (FSH at 48), and DE would be my only chance of conceiving again. We are set to cycle in May. Very exciting and nerve racking at the same time! If there are any moms on the blog who used DE for secondary infertility, I would love to hear how the connection with your DE baby has compared to your first (etc).

    Back to bonding, I'm a childbirth educator and doula. What you're feeling is totally normal after the birth of your son, for anyone, not to mention adding the c-section, NICU stay and trouble with breastfeeding. I had a similar experience when my son was born. The second they put him on my belly I wondered if it was possible to put him back. I was instantly feeling confused. Then he spent 7 days in the NICU and I pumped for a month because he would not latch after being bottle fed in the NICU (nipple confusion).

    Nobody tells you, you will probably GROW to love your baby. Your hormones are raging before and after birth, you're sleep deprived, and you’re on the job training for the hardest position of your life (w/o a manual). I don't think I looked at my son and thought "you are my son and I love you" for at least 3-4 months. I felt like I was going through the motions because I had a responsibility. But it DOES change, soon they are everything to you and you couldn't imagine what your life would be w/o them.

    Just be sure your feelings are not also accompanied by symptoms of PPD. Keep talking to your DH and people around you. Remember you're not alone :) this is how SO many women feel.
    Good luck, Stacey

  7. Stacey,
    I am glad you found my blog and thank you for your comment. As for other DE parents with secondary IF there are many of them. I great place to find them is on the PVED forum It is a great place to meet other DE parents or people in the process. Good Luck with your cycle in May.