“I Didn’t Love My Baby At First, Is That Normal?”
Early, last December, running low on zzzs (which mom doesn’t?) but with my daughter down with a high fever that night, I probably had only a good solid hour of sleep. She’s 4 years-old and sleeps in her own room, so I decided to bunk in with her to nurse her through the night. And through the night I did.
It was from all that restless sleep, getting up every hour to check her temperature, cooling her body down with a damp cloth, making sure she drank enough whenever she could, was when I realized, how instinctual it all was because I loved her.
Now, love. A feeling that all moms expect to have for her child, no? But understand this, not all moms love their child as how it’s expected, well, at least not upon birth.
When we picture birth, we visualize a bubble of love. The moment where we lock eyes with our darling baby, the relieved, sobbing chuckle we let out when we hear their strong cry, the first skin-to-skin bond we want to treasure and the tears that follow because we are so in love. And yet, how disappointing is it when the opposite happens, and that you don’t immediately fall in love with your new bundle of joy?
Is this normal? Am I the only one not in love with my baby?
I always say, giving birth is like an outer body experience, literally. So to expect that plummeting, deep kind of love for your baby, is normal.
To actually experience it, is another story. Not everyone will experience this all-consuming love for their baby upon birth. AND THAT IS COMPLETELY NORMAL. Yes, it is disappointing to find yourself on the other side of your expectations, but that is something not worth beating yourself up for.
What is preventing me from bonding with my baby?
A number of reasons. For starters, when mothers give birth, they have given their all. So commonly, be it through any form of delivery, all moms would have experienced exhaustion beyond words. This alone could lead to them wanting nothing more than to sleep. And maybe eat.
Labors can be challenging and traumatic. For mothers who experienced birth complications, have their baby rushed to NICU or even those who may have suffered pregnancy loss, can develop a multitude of thoughts in that span of time enough to swallow them whole and leave them with dark thoughts.
For mothers that have suffered miscarriages, they may tend to feel doubtful for loving their newborn. Then there are also mothers with postpartum depression. This only further explains that natural causes is what prevents us from bonding with our baby as how we would’ve hoped.
Does this make me a bad mom?
Plain and simple, no.
Yes, the feeling can be shocking. But understand this, you are not a bad mom. And no, you’re not the only parent guilty of not falling in love with their baby immediately.
I was, that parent. Yes, I was that mom that even after what was considered an "easy" vaginal birth (VB), I still felt dead tired. So tired that the only fleeting feeling when I held my daughter for the first time was, “oh Alhamdulillah. Oh, Alhamdulillah she’s healthy. Oh my gosh, I did it. Oh Ya Allah,”.
That was it. And this was all in a fleeting minute before I somehow managed to summoned the nurse to take her from me. She could’ve been on me longer than I imagined but at that moment, it felt like a minute. Or less.
I only truly remember being so damn tired and overwhelmed with exhaustion that I didn’t get to feel this immense love for my newborn daughter. The first few thoughts in my mind was, okay she’s healthy, get her off of me. I was too scared to hold her for any longer in fear I might drop her. All I wanted was sleep.
Still want to judge yourselves?
Is it too late?
Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with not bonding right away with your little bubba. Know that a lot of parents don’t get to experience this level of closeness with their baby until after days, sometimes weeks or even months after birth. It’s only natural to wonder whether this could impair your relationship with your baby, but don’t despair, it won’t harm it in any way in the long run.
Can I still bond with my baby as how I hope?
Rather than hold on to that guilt and blame, recognize that that desire and panic to want to bond with your child, already makes you a great mother. Realizing this will help you take control of your thoughts. Start by telling yourself that you are not a bad mother and focus on building that bond. Your baby still depends on you and that strong bond for survival and safety. So mamas, here are some tips to creating it:
- Do lots of skin-to-skin cuddles and frequent nursing sessions. Learn how to do a baby massage. Take the time to look into their eyes and just talk to them.
- Lodge in with baby (if permitted) at hospital and at home.
- Heard this works wonders, babywearing is said to not only help create a bond but it also helps regulate their body temperature, provide a sense of security and the rocking motion also soothes them.
- Be more involved. Though duties can be delegated, the more involved you are and make the effort to be present, this will also help you feel more engaged with your baby.
As we enter the new year, mamas, I just want to remind each one of you (those expecting or in postpartum now) that recognizing your emotions is part of protecting your good vibes. Don't step around your emotions instead, tap into it and if it helps, talk it out to your loved ones or a therapist.
Year 2022 is normalizing your emotions to be seen, heard and acknowledged. Normalize "sensitive" topics surrounding motherhood to not be taboo.
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