All of me

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Our Babies and Attachment

on August 19, 2013

Every mother attaches differently to their baby. Some instantly attach the minute the second line comes up on the pregnancy test. They coo and talk to their tummy from that moment on and become an instant momma bear the minute their baby comes into the world.

But this may not be the case for everyone out there. It certainly wasn’t the case for me.
When I got pregnant, I was so worried about not becoming attached to the baby I did everything I could to become as connected as I could. I ordered a Doppler so I could listen to our baby’s heartbeat at home. I ordered four extra private ultrasounds so I could make it more real for me. We found out the sex of the baby so we could have a name right away, call it by that name and so that I could have a nursery more specific to the little person about to join our family. And although I didn’t read to my baby, as we got closer to the due date, we would have a few conversations and I did sing to my tummy every night before bed (the same song I still sing every night before Connor goes to bed).

No matter what I did though, I just didn’t feel that strong connection that I had heard about. Or maybe I did, and because of all my other underlying issues, didn’t know how to recognize it.

When Connor was born I loved him, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it would be one of those moments you see on tv where you cry as you hold your baby and see them for the first time. That wasn’t the case for me.

You know when they have to take blood for testing and blood sugar readings and they prick your baby’s foot? They had to do it multiple times for Connor as they couldn’t get enough blood for a good reading. I didn’t feel anything. I was so rational and understood why they were doing it I just watched them feeling indifferent. But then my sister-in-law recounted her story about how she immediately wanted to grab her child and punch the nurse in the face (I’m paraphrasing); There was this instant guilt that I didn’t feel that way. I’m his mother! I’m supposed to have that protective instinct!

I discovered my love grew every day. It wasn’t many months later that Connor had his first ER visit because of croup and I had a VERY hard time keeping it together because I was worried. There was also a time when we were dealing with specialists because of his flat spot caused by his torticollis. As they manipulated his head this way and that, it took everything in my being to not snatch him back (and he wasn’t even crying this time!)

That reaction made me feel so much better because I knew that instinct had come. I was just one of those people where the feeling grows and builds instead of instantly coming into fruition.

There are still days where my confidence in my attachment strength waivers. Often it’s when Connor would prefer to be with anyone but me. Or how he’ll adventure everywhere without really caring if I’m there or not. Generally, I’m quite proud that he’s so independent and sure of himself and that the feels comfortable with others. But sometimes I waiver with the thought that he does it because he’s not attached to me. Or rather, that he’s attached himself to those people OVER me. It’s a challenging balance because I know that his personality and our parenting style largely factors into this as well.

I was mostly proud of this independent child-o’-mine until a few months ago when I was out getting a pedicure with my mother and sister-in-law. We were talking about our kids and what different personalities they have and it came up how my nephew liked to stay close and my son likes to wander and explore, with really no regard to where you are in relation to him.

The girl working on my sister-in-law asked “Did you breastfeed?” If I wasn’t so shocked I might have been able to come up with some witty response. Instead, I shockingly answered “NO”. She went on saying that was probably why as most babies that are breastfed are more attached and need their mom more than the babies who are fed from a bottle.

Feelings of failure wracked my brain. Maybe that WAS why I didn’t feel so attached to Connor. Maybe I should have done more to keep breastfeeding… NO! NO! NO!

Ladies – what that woman said to me was wrong! She should not have said it in the first place! Do NOT ever feel like the decisions you’ve made for your baby was a mistake. You did what was right for you at the time, and no one has the right to judge you for it or say any different. For me – choosing to pump and bottle feed and then going to formula was in both my and Connor’s best interest and there’s no point playing the ‘what if’ game. I felt no guilt making this decision at the time and I think that guilt crept up again because I was already so worried that I messed up one of the most important relationships of my life because of my own attachment problems.

I have come to accept that I’m not going to be able to see what everyone else sees in terms of a healthy attachment. My eyes are clouded and I’m never going to think it is enough. Right now, I look to my husband to reassure me that, yes, I am doing a good job and that my son and I are bonded. And sometimes, when my judgement is clear, I understand what he’s trying to tell me when my little boy shyly comes to hold my leg when a stranger say ‘hi’ and when suppertime is a challenge because I have a little helper that doesn’t want to leave my side while I’m cooking. Or the days where rushes to give me a kiss and a hug when I come home from work and he gives me a big squeeze. I’m his mother and I know that he loves me and is confident in my love for him – I just need to convince myself of that fact once in a while.

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2 responses to “Our Babies and Attachment

  1. I think by reading this, you can tell that you are being a wonderful mother to your son… (anyone can!)

  2. Your calm and rational response to the newborn blood tests sounds normal after the medical process you went through just to have him. I may be wrong, but I’m sure on some level you were so used to all the medical stuff that it just didn’t phase you! Thanks for being honest and sharing that every new mom will have a different experience.

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