When my daughter was born, and I saw her for the first time, I didn’t feel the instantaneous connection that I always heard about from other mothers. All I felt was relief. I was glad she was alive, and that was about all I could handle at the time. My daughter’s birth was unexpected and in many ways traumatic. I was 37 weeks pregnant and my daughter was presenting breech. In an effort to have a natural birth, I went in for a procedure that was meant to externally flip her. I was really scared, but I had my heart set on natural childbirth and I wanted to make sure I exhausted every option before having a c-section. I had read and read about all the benefits of labor and natural childbirth. I, like all parents, only wanted what was best for her. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Childbirth was like a mountain I was determined to climb. I attended a two day lamaze class and in the class we were taught to come up with some sort of focus tool to help us concentrate on the breathing techniques. I have always been a visualizer, so I created a visualization of the doctor laying my daughter on my chest after I delivered her. Needless to say, my visualization did not come to fruition. Instead, during the flipping procedure, my daughter’s heart rate dropped and I had to undergo an emergency c-section. It was the scariest moment of my life.
The days after her arrival I was in such a daze. Not only was I dealing with pain from the surgery, but I also was sore and had major bruising from the flipping procedure. It was hard to nurse my daughter because of all my abdominal pain, and as weird as it may sound, I was still processing the fact that she had been born- even though it had been days since her birth. To be honest, I was scared. This little baby in front of me was a stranger. I knew that I loved her, and that I would give my life for her, but I felt no connection to her. I didn’t know what to do or who to talk to, and I didn’t want to reveal the truth about how I was feeling. I feared it was abnormal. I had convinced myself I was broken.
Still, I went through the motions. I did everything I thought a mother should do with her newborn. I held her and rocked her, nursed her for hours on end, read to her, and sang to her. And as days turned into weeks, a bud of affection started to blossom within me that was different then what I already felt. And then it happened, out of nowhere. I can still remember the moment when it all clicked and I fell head over heals in love with my baby. I was singing a song to her softly after a nursing session. I held in in my lap facing me, and she looked up at me and blinked. I froze, right then and there, in that moment, it was like I was seeing her for the first time. From that moment on, I was engulfed in her. I felt like I had known her all my life. It was amazing and I was so relieved. Now, there is not a moment that goes by that I do not feel deeply rooted in my love and bond with my daughter.
Instantly bonding and connecting to our babies is something every mother is expected to do. I am sure, for many moms, it happens the moment they lay eyes on them. However, there are some moms, like me, who after undergoing a traumatic delivery, can experience something totally different- and it can be pretty scary. So, I continue to share my story and experiences so other new moms out there know that they are not alone, and most importantly, that connecting with your baby is different for every mother. Still, If you are feeling a distance from your baby or are having a hard time coping with motherhood, just remember that, the most important thing you need to do is find a way to help yourself. No matter what, your beautiful baby is going to need a mother who is happy and healthy, so be your own advocate and don’t be ashamed of what you may be feeling because you are definitely not alone.