Before my daughter ever came into my life I knew I wanted to be a mom. I had been babysitting since I was 13, I was a nanny and even worked at a daycare center for a bit. Even my own nephews were really important to me. So I never in a million years imagined what would happen when I became a mom: I didn’t love my baby at first and that’s ok.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was so excited to meet my daughter. I envisioned all the things we would do together and the sweet little girl that she would grow up to be. Her name was picked out and her room was all decorated. I was so ready to kill it at being a mom.
Everything went smoothly on the day my daughter was born. I had an easy vaginal birth and we had skin to skin contact right away. From the very start she was an easy baby and although I had the typical post-partum pain, I otherwise felt really good.
As I bundled her up at the hospital and got ready to get discharged, I couldn’t wait to get her home and dress her up and start that mother-daughter bonding. But I wasn’t prepared for that to not happen for several months.
Most people reading this are probably thinking, sounds like she got post-partum depression so that’s normal. Although I didn’t. Emotionally I felt good, I wasn’t down or depressed. I was in good spirits and even eager to see my friends and go back to work. But when it came to my daughter… nothing.
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The Day to Day Routine of Caring For Your Child
You always hear about how much work babies can be and how exhausted moms can be. But you never truly understand it until you have a bay of your own. The first 2 weeks, they sleep like 20 hours a day so how can moms be that exhausted!
The amount of work that came with having a baby was what hit me hard and it’s only now that I can look back and understand why that affected my bonding with my newborn.
Those first two months your days are filled with feeding the baby, bathing the baby, burping, changing, rocking to sleep, etc. And that doesn’t include the extra time you take to read a book to your new child or sing to them.
Then when they are sleeping comes the pumping (which can easily take an hour) and the cleaning of the bottles and the laundry. And then the next thing you know the baby is awake again and your duties start all over! And you haven’t even touched your normal home chores like cleaning and cooking and bathing yourself.
For two solid months, I took care of this tiny human who never smiled and never acknowledged me. I never felt like a mom because there was never any moment that told me this was what motherhood was all about.
The First Smile
The first time my daughter smiled definitely started to help me like her more. But then again, any person who came along and blew bubbles and made noises made her smile too. She was becoming cuter and cuter but as a mom, I still didn’t feel that connection.
Every day felt the same. I worked hard to take care of her and yet I got no signs of affection or love in return. And because I felt ashamed of that, I never confided in anyone and spent weeks thinking something was wrong with me.
And then one day it happened…
I came home from work when she was around 6 months old. Her babysitter was holding her and when I walked in the door, she went crazy and smiled and rocked her whole body as I approached her.
Her babysitter then said the simplest yet most impactful words of my life “Oh, look, she knows her Mommy is here”. That simple sentence was what I had been waiting months for. For all the hard work I’d put in and for all those night time feedings and exhausted days. There was a finally a payoff. My daughter knew me.
From there on out, bonding with her became easier and easier. And loving her fell right into place. Every month of her life became more fun and now several years later I can honestly say I love her more than anyone on earth.
Don’t Feel Like Something is Wrong with You
When I had my daughter and didn’t feel bonded to her, I felt ashamed and like the worst mother ever. It took several years of me hearing other moms stories feeling the same thing. And several times of seeing moms faces light up when I described my experience, knowing they were not alone either.
It can be extremely difficult to fall in love with something that shows no emotion and requires care every minute of the day. Just know you are not alone and don’t be afraid to talk to other moms. Chances are there are many others who feel the way you do. And hearing their stories may help you, or sharing yours might really help them too.
Hang in there mamas, you’re doing a great job!