Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reflections on birth

I saw a blog post recently about a new mommy in the hospital.  How she felt.  How she cherished and loved this little baby she just suffered to bring into the world.  "Take a picture in the hospital when it's just you and baby, so you can remember how much joy you felt."  Well, that would have been great, except I didn't feel that.

I tried to remember what happened after Dawson was born.  What those first few days were like.  I'm drawing a big fat blank.  All I can remember is the despair I felt, I don't remember specific events well, if at all.  I had done what I never thought I could do- I brought a beautiful baby into the world.  But all I felt was sad.  I wasn't pregnant anymore.  I couldn't feel him kick me anymore.  My fantasy was shattered, this is not how I pictured it.
24 hour old baby

He was born at 6:46PM on a Saturday night and by the time my parents, sister, and in laws left the hospital it must have been late.  I can't remember, I have no recollection of time.  I attempted to feed Dawson every 3 hours but he was very very hard to rouse.  Joe went to sleep at some point, and I sat and held Dawson for the next 3 hours until his next feeding.  Shell shocked.  In pain, emotionally and physically.   I can't describe any of that first night, or even the next day that I felt any different than that.   I don't remember when people started showing up the next day.  In fact, all I remember about the next day was the nurse wanting me to walk down the hall, and I was so upset because I could barely walk to the bathroom that was literally only feet from my bed.  Joe was doing everything for Dawson, except feeding him, which I seemed to be failing at because he just plain didn't want to wake up for me.  I watched Joe and him bond and I felt this incredible joy for my husband, and sadness for myself.  Why was it coming so easy to him? Why did I feel nothing at all for this baby?

Day old baby
My point in all of this is I think as a first time mother, I had this fantasy that I would want to clutch that baby to me so tight and never put him down, and I didn't feel that.  Dawson and I did not bond right away.  It left me with a huge amount of guilt riding on my shoulders.  It only got worse as I went home and it took literally months for me to bond to him.  I still did everything I needed to do for him, of course, but I just went through the motions.  He was nothing more than a crying mouth to feed and a diaper to change for a few months.  I wish that someone had told me before he came that it's not always instantaneous to feel that intense connection to your baby. It's not always the puppies and rainbows you built up in your head.  All of this certainly didn't cause my postpartum depression, but it contributed heaps and loads to it.  And when I look back, I even want to say it had already begun.

I'm a little scared that this will happen to me again.  That I won't bond with this baby right away, and I will feel disappointed.  Even worse, I'm afraid I won't remember anything again.  I know certain things will be easier this time, but I do have fear that the days after this baby's birth will be the same as Dawson's.  I'm trying to put some actions into place, and seek the support (professional and otherwise) to prevent it, but if there's anything having your first baby can teach you, it's that you can't plan for everything.  You just prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.


  1. Hi there. Found your blog while browsing topmommyblogs (I'm not a blogger yet) and I felt like I should comment on this. I've never bonded instantly and I don't know many people (personally) who have. It's hard. You're tired and stressed and this wrinkled squalling thing has no interest in you whatsoever. Either you hated pregnancy and you're just relieved that it's over or you loved pregnancy and you wish you were still pregnant. A life that has been in and a part of you for nearly a year is now OUT and seperate from you and it feels like something is missing.... I think it's best to go into labor without all those expectations - this whole "early bonding" thing is relatively new in the course of human history. Not only that but *every* pregnancy is different. And the insta-bonding isn't as necessary as people think. Think about children who are adopted - sometimes even at 5 years and up - who are still able to bond with their adoptive parents and feel just as loved. ... the best thing about sharing things online is that people are starting to realize that motherhood isn't (and doesn't need to be) the same for everyone... and that it isn't always the rosy picture painted in storybooks and on television. The fact that this worries you so much shows me that you're a great/loving mother. The fact that you've been there once before should make it easier to bond this time. The fact that you're talking about it shows that you are healing. I'd say it looks pretty positive! :)

    1. I am healing :) it's been a long road but I'm getting there, one step at a time. I think more parents in general should speak out when things aren't quite the way they were expecting. The books on pregnancy can be terribly misleading. Thank you for stopping by and the encouraging words!

  2. Ok, I've never said it, but it's true. I felt the same way, when Joe was born. First of all, they wouldn't let me have him for hours, and I worried that there was something wrong with him that no one was talking about. (I saw his little blue-gray body being whisked away to the wash tubs). Being my first, I didn't know the normal routine. As soon as the lil' critter comes out, he/she is tossed on mommy's belly (for bonding, I suppose). But, he wasn't. And he didn't cry for a couple of minutes. They dunked him in one basin, cleaned out his nasal passages, and dunked him into another basin. He cried like he'd been dunked in ice-water (because he had).
    Then, I went to the recovery room. They wouldn't bring him in there. They said I could see him as soon as I was out of the recovery room.
    Then, although I asked for "on demand" feedings, which I understood would be 24/7, they didn't bring him in all night, every night for my entire 5 day stay. I found out they were feeding him sugar-water, while I was needing a breast pump for engorgement.
    I thought he was a great baby who slept through the night, until we got home ... my 1st 3 months were pure hell. The days were ok, because he slept a lot, but the nights were crazy because he wanted to be fed every hour throughout the night.
    So ... I get it. Don't worry about it, though. Oh, yeah ... and ... while everyone else was saying how beautiful he was, I was thinking, "are you serious? He's a red wrinkled angry little ball!" But, he grew out of that very quickly. He was such a cute little boy! It took me a bit to bond too, but when I did, I was in love. I was afraid to tell anyone because I thought they'd think I was cold and unfeeling. I think I was just unprepared for the reality of having a living, breathing, child. And newborns are a lot of work, with no real "thanks mom". But they're worth it. Smiles come, and all that lack-of-bonding disappears! Looking back, I don't think it really was a lack of bonding. I was just afraid of this new stage of my life. Fearful that I might not do it right. You're a good mom. You'll do great!