We've all heard about the magical time after labor and delivery where we, as mothers, are expected to (and hope to) bond with our brand new baby. It sounds easy enough, right? We wait nine months to meet this little human so it shouldn't be an issue to connect. So what about when it is? There's actually a lot of things that kept me from bonding with my baby right away, but what I didn't realize at the time — what I wish someone had told me then — was that it would be OK. No, seriously.
Despite the months of excited prepping, daydreaming, and visualizing, the very moment I held my newborn daughter there was a strange lack of feeling I wasn't expecting: a void. Of course I was happy to be done with the pushing and grateful she was healthy, but when doctors laid her on my bare chest, I looked at her as if we'd never met before. I suppose, in a way, that's true. Sure, she sprouted from a little seedling inside of me, but everything I thought the moment would feel like was lost on me. Instead of having an innate instinct she was my baby, there was a disconnect. It could've been any baby lying there, staring up at me, and it wouldn't have made a difference.
In the days and weeks to follow, I took comfort in telling myself the bond would happen because, well, why wouldn't it? What could be so wrong with me that some part subconsciously denied my own offspring? It made me think of a cat I had, who had delivered eight babies but left two of them to fend for themselves. Had I not intervened, they'd have died. Of course my feelings weren't similar , because I cared for my baby. I did all the things a new mother does, even when my postpartum depression (PPD) soured into something too heavy to handle without professional help. Honestly, I lived this way for many months because I felt so guilty, so horrible of a mother, I was afraid to speak up about it fear of judgement. I mean, this was my fault, wasn't it?
Looking back, I now see all the roadblocks in our way that kept things from flowing the way they should have. Now that my daughter is 10, I assure you, our relationship is just fine. Not having an instant bond isn't predicative of how close you and your baby can be. It just takes some digging to figure out what's holding you back. From one mother to another, here are some of those things, in hopes that someone out there going through similar emotions can know it will be OK even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment. Do you hear me? It will be OK.