Yesterday, I posted my 14 Week Update on my personal blog. Each week, I discuss a pregnancy topic that’s been on my mind (versus just listing my symptoms; after all, they are always the same… I am tired, cranky, sore, and my boobs are ginormous). In my update, I talked about how we’re pairing up with another local couple to read the book Birthing from Within and do the ‘birth preparation’ exercises together (mainly creative writing and art). I’m really excited for this because I think it will help me mentally and emotionally prepare for birth.
For the first exercise, we had to write our Birth Legacies, all of the myths, facts, tales, and images we have been told about birth. I was surprised that both my husband and I expressed a fear of not instantly feeling bonded to the baby. I think there’s just so much pressure from our society – both in other parents’ stories and Hollywood birth portrayals – to have this epic “OMG I LOVE MY BABY!” moment. I’m paranoid I won’t experience it.
I was so happy I brought this up in my post because other readers assured me that this is a normal fear and certainly doesn’t mean we’re doomed to be crap parents. Here’s what they had to say:
Ashley said, “I won’t lie, when my daughter was I completely expected to have that huge rush of emotion and outpouring of love, and I didn’t. Part of it for me, I’m sure, was that I had an epidural. I felt absolutely zero when I was pushing. And I pushed for only about 15 minutes. So there was no real build up. I wouldn’t change my decision on the epidural (I was induced because of pre-e, and stuck in bed because my blood pressure wouldn’t stay down and I was on the pitocin, personally I didn’t feel up to sticking it out for 12-24 hours stuck in that bed with no pain relief). But I do think that not really having that climax in the birth process, other than of course, giving birth, had something to do with it. I also struggled with a bit of PPD and hated myself for not feeling like my heart was going to burst out of my chest with love. But you know what? I absolutely love my daughter more than anything in the world. It took time to adjust, and a little bit of time to find the space in my heart, but now she occupies nearly the whole damn thing. So just know, even you don’t have that instant rush of emotion and love, you 100% do love your child. You were meant to have a family and you WILL feel that infinite amount of love. It just might not happen right off the bat. And that is ok.”
Meagan said, “You talked about giving birth as an emotionally transformative moment. And for some women, it is. For me, and a lot of other moms I know? It wasn’t. And that’s not a bad thing! It just is. You’re tired, bloody, maybe on heavy medications, getting stitched up, etc. People are all around you, cleaning up you and the baby. It’s hectic, no matter *where* or *how* you give birth. So, if you don’t feel instant attachment—give it a few days. Rest. Eat. Cuddle your baby. Take a shower. Kick your visitors out for awhile.”
Sarah said, “I’ve read that it’s not that uncommon for people to not feel a surge of love and attachment the first time they see their baby or at least to question if they feel “enough.” I say that not to worry you more but to say that my understanding is that it is normal. Any reaction is normal, really. Some people feel the surge and others don’t, but even if you are in the latter group it doesn’t mean that love won’t come (and quickly I’m sure). I have also read that the deep bond that parents feel toward their offspring really comes from the act of taking care of them, so even if you don’t feel that crazy love from the beginning, just the act of caring for them will make it grow. And thank god for that, because if it were solely biological we wouldn’t have adoption (which is what I want to do someday)!”
Catherine said, “I have also had the fear of not feeling “instant attachment,” which I thought was abnormal, but I guess it’s more common than I thought. For me, I think this fear stems from everyone telling me that I’m going to feel that crazy attachment, so instantly my paranoid brain thinks, “Well, what if I don’t?” It’s the same thing when everyone tells me that it’s okay that I don’t have childcare experience because my maternal instincts will kick in and tell me what to do. I always think, “But what if I don’t have these maternal instincts?” But whatever, I’m sure we’ll both be awesome moms who are obnoxiously attached to our babies.”
Brittnie said, “My mentor told me last week that if my child is born and I do not feel an instant attachment or “love” that it is OK and not to think I am losing my mind, weird or depressed. She has had two children and with the first there was no attachment until days after they got home. With the second she felt a bond instantly. So good to hear and to know that for some it happens but it is OK.”
Jen said, “I also had the fear of not bonding withe the baby after she was born. I have to say, though, that moment when I gave the final push, the doctor guided her out of me, she took that first breath, let out that first cry, and was placed on my chest, my cup runneth over. Most emotional experience of my life. And, it was thet first time I ever saw my husband cry (typically not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve). As emotional as the birth was, bonding, however, was something that took time. Those first few weeks of sleepless nights and seemingly inconsolable crying were rough, but the bonding happened slowly but surely. I think breast feeding definitely helped.”
Did you experience instant baby bonding? Or is not experiencing the instant bond a fear of yours, too?