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.