Time and again during my first pregnancy, I heard that once your newborn is born and placed in your arms you’ll feel this overwhelming love. A love that changes you in ways you can’t describe. An instant bond that will last a lifetime.
When my first child was born after 12 hours of intense labor, a traumatic “surgical vaginal” delivery, I waited for that moment of overwhelming love. It didn’t happen right away. I thought there was something wrong with me.
As I recovered–slowly–and cared for my newborn, I found it challenging. I attributed it to being my first child–not knowing what to expect and still learning the ropes–but I always wondered if this period should be easier and more filled with that intense love people spoke of.
Over time, I grew deeply in love with my new child. It seemed to coincide with the time it took me to generally heal from labor and birth, but I didn’t see that then.
When my second child was born, just 14 months later, the same thing happened. I didn’t feel that bond right away. At that time, more experienced, I knew that it would come over time so I was less concerned with being “emotionally broken.” This was just “normal” for me, I guess.
I wasn’t at all surprised when I had the same delayed bond when my third child was born, too. The delivery that was less traumatic than the first time around, but, still physically scarred from the first time, I wasn’t looking forward to the recovery time.
I talked to friends of mine and subtly asked if they felt any delay in bonding, trying to find some answer for me. Everyone I spoke to said they did feel that bond and described it as I have in the first paragraph. The few who did struggle with the bond shared that they had been battling postpartum depression–that was their answer and reason. I didn’t have that battle, thankfully, but I wouldn’t find out the reason for the delayed bonding until just a month ago, after my fourth child was born.
With him, I had that instant bond. That overwhelming, all-encompassing love. The kind of love that leaves you breathless and surprised. I finally felt that “normal” response to seeing and holding my child for the first time. I felt unbroken and it was amazing.
So, what was different?
Did I love him more than my other children? No.
All four pregnancies and children were planned and wanted. Yes.
Was it because I had been through this before? No.
It was because, unlike the other three births, this one was a scheduled c-section. It’s not a typical benefit of c-section. In fact, there are experts who claim just the opposite, that a c-section makes it harder for women and babies to bond. And I’m certainly not saying it’s a reason for major surgery. But, for me, having a c-section helped me bond with my newborn.
When I say I had a traumatic first labor and birth, I mean it. I’m talking an episotomy, tearing, 40+ stitches, and reconstruction after the birth of my third child. It was a painful, difficult recovery. That was what hindered my ability to bonding.
My c-section was for medical reasons, but this unexpected emotional benefit healed me in ways I didn’t realize I needed. I was able to feel that insane flood of love. And though a c-section recovery is nothing to balk at, for me, it was simpler, easier, and less invasive to caring for my new babe.
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Photo credit: © Devan McGuinness