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Baby bonding – it just wasn’t my thing

August 26, 2012

Bonding just started

I am a mother of three. There’s no denying it. It’s fundamental to who I am and what I have achieved. Not alone of course. Nothing I have done I have achieved alone, but having babies was definitely a partnered activity.

Growing up I’d assumed I’d have children, in that general, non-specific sort of way. I didn’t love children or yearn for them. I used to enjoy being sent to cover the infant class in my primary school when their teacher was away. I was about nine or ten probably, in the top class (of three – there were only about seventy children in the whole school) and when Miss Oldfield didn’t turn up for whatever reason, the headmaster (who was our teacher) would ask me to go and look after them. I used to make up stories for them, featuring each of them in madcap antics. There was a lot about magic powers,  ski ing down mountains and falling on bottoms I remember. They seemed to love it – pleading with me to include them in the next chapter. It was easy and it was fun, but it didn’t make me pine to have children. Didn’t really think about it.

The thumb is the middle class dummy.

So when it did come to my time to give birth to our first born, I had no real idea how I was going to react. My mother was terrified I would get the severe post natal depression she had, whereas I was having difficulty thinking about anything beyond the actual birth itself. The birth was not straightforward. Neither had the pregnancy been, but the birth was a highly medicialised affair with concerns over my heart and the baby’s wellbeing resulting in a high forceps delivery in a room crammed with obstetricians, paediatricians, cardiologists and anaesthetists. I was just relieved he was out and alive (the baby, not the anaesthetist).

I didn’t feel that overwhelming maternal pride at the birth.. No rush of emotional bonding. The first one took me probably eight months to connect with emotionally. I saw it all as duty and responsibility and couldn’t relax and enjoy it. I couldn’t pick him out amongst the rows of newborn infants in the nursery at the hospital after he was born.  Just as well they label them or I would have been there all day wondering which was ours.

The eldest bonded with the next one straight away

I was better with the second a year later, but even so it took weeks. And then the third, perhaps the nearest to this ‘bonding’ everyone bangs on about.

But I could see my husband had an ease. A pleasure. A satisfaction when he looked at the babies. Right from the word go. Unconditional love? I presume this is what is meant by bonding.

It wasn’t that he throught he knew everything about babies, but more along the lines of “How difficult can it be? We have been doing it for millenia. It can’t be that complicated. They have fairly straightforward requirements – to eat, to sleep, to be clean and warm.”

a natural

I on the other hand saw only the gaping chasm of my lack of experience, knowledge and ability. I had concern, fear and duty. I treated him like any patient – and strove to sort out his problems by feeding, changing, washing and rocking him. It was all about reacting to his needs, nothing about just enjoying the ride.But basically for me it was a learnt emotion, not one that came automatically.

Does that make me a bad mother? Does it make me not a ‘natural’ mother? Does it bollocks. Motherhood (well parenthood, but my reference point is female) is for life and whether or not I ‘bonded’ straight away is irrelevant in the long term as far as I am concerned. We are all better at some parts of parenting than others and shouldn’t be made to feel abnormal because something doesn’t come naturally.

sweeeet

Much easier second time around – just home from hospital

When I started bonding with the first  I was already pregnant with the next one (note to self: breast feeding is not a contraceptive) and  as I became more relaxed and confident that I wasn’t going to miss some obvious medical problem in him and started looking at him simply as a baby not a potential patient, I think I started enjoying it. And it just got better and better.

The older they have become, the more I have enjoyed parenthood. In general of course. Not every moment of every day. Not when I am screaming at the top of my voice to clean that bloody room before I throw you in to the street. Or when the phone rings at 4 am and it’s the police. Or the school rings to ask you to come in. Or you come home from holiday to a noise abatement notice because your house has been party central for the week…..  It’s not all been completely joyous, but it has been, and continues to be, great.

The honeymoon era of childhood – old enough to do stuff, young enough to be happy to do it with you

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6 Responses to “Baby bonding – it just wasn’t my thing”

  1. Cecilie Says:

    Didn’t mean to be anynomous, I just an Amateur…

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you sarah, you make me laugh and smile relaxed, now that time distance has given us the courage and wit to say we were good enough, really. After all. Despite of everything. You made me remember the hardships, tears, fears, and it is lovely that you found the right words to this important, vulnerable phase in the world of a mother-to-be.
    I really appreciated reading this little piece. Keep going, unparcelling the memories, sharing – thank you!


  3. My husband was definitely better with the “babies.” I think it’s because he is better at just “sitting.” I on the other hand am always moving around! I so enjoy the preschool and school ages!!


    • Haha – I’m a great lazy sitter so don’t have that excuse – it was all mental not physical for me! So glad you are enjoying the preschool era – with your talents I imagine your kids are too. Thanks for commenting! xx


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