An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Motherhood and Bonding

Monday, June 1, 2015

Motherhood and Bonding

It seems really simple, right? You're pregnant for nine (which is really ten) months, you labor, produce a child and boom! You're instantly in love, your family grows, and you spend the 12 months of the baby's infancy looking lovingly in his/her eyes.

Except... That's not how it happens. Like, not even remotely how it happens.

I had Henry at 36 weeks, and LAWD was I thankful to him for saving me a whole month from a very tough pregnancy (pre-term labor, bed rest, dislocated ribs level tough). I planned a natural birth at a birth center; I got an emergency c section with a breech baby. At that point, I honestly didn't care because I was SO relived to no longer be pregnant!

For the first two weeks of his life, I remember just being so dang happy I wasn't pregnant, I didn't mind waking up every two hours to nurse him. I loved picking out what onesie I'd dress him in that day. I was also on painkillers from the c section, so... You know, there was that.

Then motherhood hit me. After three weeks of maybe four hours of sleep at night, I no longer cared what onesie he would be in. It turned out he had a tough time digesting dairy, since he was a month early (and most babies in general have a rough go with lactose in the beginning. Ironically, milk is his favorite thing now!). I had to cut out dairy from my diet so that the lactose didn't get in my breast milk. Have I mentioned that I'm largely vegetarian, and most of my calories come from dairy? I felt like there was nothing I could eat. And man, was I ever tired.

In those early days, I would look at Henry and smile. I loved him. But I didn't KNOW him. I wasn't IN love with him. We hadn't bonded. He was little and needy and goodness sakes, he was exhausting. I wanted to be in love with him. I wanted to spend hours cooing over him, looking into his eyes and feeling the mother-baby bond. But it didn't happen.

I distinctly remember turning a corner when Henry was around six months. Suddenly, he could sit on his own! He interacted! He was learning new skills! He began to play, and observe, and smile and "talk" to me. That was an exciting time. I finally felt like I was getting to know my baby. He developed a personality. He didn't just stare off into space and cry when he was hungry like he did when he was a newborn, he was an actual little person!

It was between the six and nine month mark that Henry and I finally bonded. It happened gradually - there was no "Ah-ha!" moment, no fireworks. It was a slow, piece by piece process.

Now at 12 months, I absolutely adore and am madly in love with Henry! He is so calm, pleasant, playful and smart. I feel 100% differently about him than when I did when he was a newborn.

My message is this: bonding with your baby isn't inherent. They don't come out of the womb and BAM! You're in love, and you feel like a mom. Nope. Not at all. At least, not for me - possibly for some moms, I don't know. I haven't spoken to one mom who that was the case with yet. But don't worry mama's, it will come with time! When it does, it's a beautiful thing. And you're not a bad mom for not feeling the bond immediately.


  1. I think the biggest misconception about all of this is that if you don't have that instant bond, you obviously don't love your child. There is such a huge, huge difference between really and truly being able to BOND, and really and truly LOVING. I had to work on the bond with my first two children (mostly due to difficult life circumstances at the time, not to mention a touch of postpartum anxiety and depress) but it came instantly with my third - but I've loved them all just as much since the first time I laid eyes on them. Thank you for having the courage to be honest about motherhood. <3

  2. I'm so glad to have learned that the image of motherhood you describe at the beginning of this post isn't always the case! I used to think that way, but I've been fortunate to get to see what life with a newborn is really like through close friends. It definitely helps with my expectations for when I start having kids. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. THANK YOU for this. It's important for us non-moms to learn this before it happens. There are too many misconceptions floating around out there. You rock.

  4. My absolute favorite thing about you - how freaking honest you are!! My sister was such a mess with her first baby - I think it took a good 3 months for her to get back to her old self and honestly it wasn't for lack of trying - but lack of sleep and a new life relying on you will do that to you! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  5. Once again why you are my absolute favorite. These are all seriously on my mind and I think a lot of moms minds. Plus you know how all those other mommies like to mom shame and you think you are all by yourself and the only one who isn't instantly feeling that way. Being sleep deprived is major. Shoot I know how Mark is when he doesn't get one good night of sleep. I'm scared for that hahahahaha

  6. Love your honesty lady! A had a dairy and a soy allergy when she was an infant. I ate lettuce and nuts pretty much the whole first year of her life. It was terrible. And the sleep deprivation! Oh goodness. But you just do what you can do; you don't know any different. So we didn't get a full night's sleep for 15 months. She was a fussy baby. I loathed my friends who's kids slept through the night at week 2.

  7. Okay, so here's what I'm curious about: before you had Henry, when you would hold other babies, particularly a niece/nephew/cousin's baby, or the infant of a close friend, did you feel a 'bond' similar to what you experienced when you had your own baby? Because when I held my nieces and nephew when they were born and my close friend's babies, I felt an insane flood of emotion (baby fever) and that's the closest I can imagine to what it feels like to have a baby of my own. Is it anything close to that?

  8. Love this post. I think this is what I will be like - I mean, I'll recognise that they are my baby and love them, but bonding does take time and that is okay. love how honest you are, and you have no idea how good this makes me feel, I was worried about it! that I wouldn't be normal. Meanwhile, what about when you found out you were pregnant? Were you instantly over the moon, or did you worry / freak out at first?

  9. It becomes a conflation of joy, adaptation to new schedules and the delights of selecting cute onesies for Henry during his first fortnight. It is amusing that she admits having been put on painkillers after her c-section hence giving a lighter side of the story reminding readers about the unpredictability associated with becoming a parent.

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