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Postpartum Bonding with LO

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I wanted to create a thread where we could honestly share about how our birth experience affected postpartum bonding with our LOs.

 

For me, it vastly affected how I related to my kiddo in the first few months. I'll tell my truth, and it's a truth that sometimes I feel makes me unqualified to even post on MDC. But the truth is that during the first few months, I could not stand my son.

 

I had been in pain for so long with the labor. You know how birthing is, time stops and you lose all sense of how much has gone by. I felt like I couldn't remember what it was like to not be wracked with pain. Then the c-section recovery came. I was so sleep deprived and just not thinking clearly. I hadn't slept in three days. I was in terrible pain after the surgery, but I wasn't taking my pain meds. This was partly because the nurses at the hospital gave them to us with a chart, and said we should administer them ourselves. Well, DH and I were so tired/crazed/overwhelmed that honestly, we would forget and didn't really stay on top of it. 

 

But also, whenever I thought 'oh, I should take something, this hurts,' a part of me said, 'No. This is your penance for not bringing your son into the world in a gentle, warm, pool of water at home. This is your punishment for ruining his introduction to the world.'

 

Crazy, I know. But that's how I felt.

 

Breastfeeding was painful and difficult for many months. That whole attitude that it shouldn't hurt if you're doing it right is bunk, IMO. We were doing it "right" and it still hurt like crazy for months.

 

I think I grew to see DS as this living symbol/source of all my chronic physical pain that didn't really end until he was around 4 or 5 months old. I also couldn't look at him without thinking that I had failed him utterly, and that his birth had already somehow wounded him emotionally. The whole experience made bonding with him so difficult. I couldn't really even hold him without having him hurt my surgery scar, and babywearing was a real challenge given my surgery.

 

We finally did bond, but it took a long time. I don't feel like we really connected until he was nearly six months.

post #2 of 17

Oh mama, that is so hard.hug2.gif

 

I also had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding. I had horrible nipple pain, and it took about 12 weeks and 4 rounds of antibiotics & anti-yeast meds before it sorted itself out. So nursing was awful, and of course there's almost nothing you do during the first three months with an infant. Yeah, that was miserable.

 

I don't have a clear sense of how I bonded with DD. After my labor, I felt so disconnected from myself, I didn't feel like myself at all. I felt like I didn't have a recognizeable "me" who could bond with DD. Instead, I had this wounded, exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed out crazy person trying to just get through each day, hour by hour. Somehow, I did bond with DD. But it wasn't a happy, pleasant, warm fuzzy kind of thing. The only metaphor I can use is if you were on a sinking ship, and you jumped into a lifeboat with someone, and it was just the two of you, you would bond with that person. By going through something incredibly hard together, and knowing that your survival depends on being together, you bond. That's how I felt with my DD.

 

 

post #3 of 17

I feel so guilty about the bonding we missed out on.  For at least the first 3 months I felt like he wasn't my baby.  I felt a huge disconnect between the baby in fornt of me and the baby I carried in my womb.  I also had a terrible start to breastfeeding and felt like it was my fault because I couldn't give birth to him naturally.  I felt like I was meant to have him because he couldn't be born.  I'm not religious but in my mind I thought that god or nature didn't intend for him to be born and I should have just let nature take its course.  I was very protective of him and was borderline psychotic about caring for him but it felt like a job, not like mothering.

 

When breastfeeding finally improved almost 6 months later (although things still aren't perfect) I finally could see him as the loving, lovely little boy who is my son.  I'm crying now because I wasted so much time being angry at him and my situation that I missed out on all those bonding moments that mamas get when they meet their little babies.

 

People who say having a c/s is no big deal and it's just another way to get the baby out are so wrong.  There is so much you miss out on beside just the birth experience.

 

Thank you for starting this thread.  I relly needed to say those things in a non judgemental forum.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
I felt like I was meant to have him because he couldn't be born.  I'm not religious but in my mind I thought that god or nature didn't intend for him to be born and I should have just let nature take its course.  I was very protective of him and was borderline psychotic about caring for him but it felt like a job, not like mothering.

 

I just want to hug you so much right now, mugglesmom. That is so, so hard.

 

I really identify with what you said in this passage in particular. I also had thoughts about how me not being able to birth vaginally was a sign that I wasn't supposed to be a mother. I considered, at one point, giving DS up for adoption because I thought anyone would be a better mom than me, who couldn't even birth him "right." The irony to me is that both us really went through the ringer for our kids, making a huge huge sacrifice to bring them into the world. I mean, on paper, it feels like that should qualify us for some uber mama award instead of feeling as awful as we did.

 

I am so glad that you two were finally able to begin bonding. You went through such a difficult time, Mama. I am glad you are here and sharing your experiences.

 

*hugs*

post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Partaria View Post

 

 

 

I just want to hug you so much right now, mugglesmom. That is so, so hard.

 

I really identify with what you said in this passage in particular. I also had thoughts about how me not being able to birth vaginally was a sign that I wasn't supposed to be a mother. I considered, at one point, giving DS up for adoption because I thought anyone would be a better mom than me, who couldn't even birth him "right." The irony to me is that both us really went through the ringer for our kids, making a huge huge sacrifice to bring them into the world. I mean, on paper, it feels like that should qualify us for some uber mama award instead of feeling as awful as we did.

 

I am so glad that you two were finally able to begin bonding. You went through such a difficult time, Mama. I am glad you are here and sharing your experiences.

 

*hugs*



I think sometimes we should get the uber mom award too!  I worked my butt off to give birth and still couldn't do it, but I let someone cut me open to make sure he could live.  I'm trying really hard to think of my c/s and the scar as a badge of honor.  It's not working but I'm trying!  Now i love my son more than anything but if I knew how hard those first months were going to be, I don't know, I might have given up.  I totally understand when you say you thought about giving him up for adoption.  I used to say that to my husband a lot.  I just wanted a do over.  I really thought in my mind that if I just gave this one up I could get pregnant again and have the birth I wanted and this one wouldn't count.  It's amazing how out of whack your mind can be.  I do not understand women who would do this to themselves "electively".  I felt broken, I couldn't chose to do that to myself.

 

I'm so happy I found this group.  I don't feel like anyone understands in real life.

 

post #6 of 17

I am so glad to hear all of you talk about this, sometimes, "taboo" topic.  These feeling are so normal and they are OK!  Thanks for sharing all of you intelligent and insightful and awesome moms!

post #7 of 17

I feel so terrible remembering that the very first time I could see my baby--the child I had been waiting for years to see--and I did not even look at him.  I remember them calling out repeatedly, "Mom!  Here is your baby!  Look over here!"  And I didn't turn my head.  I was strapped to a table, throwing-up, shaking uncontrollably, while surgeons were putting my abdomen back together.  And I didn't want that to be my very first memory of seeing my child--some stranger holding my child up from across the room for me to see but not be able to hold.  I chose not to turn my head.  Then I heard, "I guess she doesn't want to see him.  Let's take him to the nursery."  And I just about died inside.  OF COURSE I WANTED TO SEE HIM!!!  What I didn't want to see was the operating staff intervening and intruding on our introduction to one another from across an operating room.  I had wanted to be the first person to hold him--not them.  

 

When I finally met him, an hour and half later, my husband handed him to me--and it felt like he had brought me a foreign object from a stairwell somewhere--like a stray.  There was no connection between us.  I dutifully cared for him, and tried to make up for my failure to bring him into the world myself.  But it took many months before I felt a loving bond for him.

 

My cousin also had an unexpected c-section with her first child (several years before me), and she said, "You know when women talk about how incredible the intense love they feel for their child is--that they would risk their lives to protect their child?  Well, during those first months, I would have gotten in front of a bicycle to protect my child--but not a train."  That made me laugh, because it was so true for me, too.

 

For others reading this, the bond does come--it just takes some time to form.

 

 

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
Well, during those first months, I would have gotten in front of a bicycle to protect my child--but not a train."

OMG that is brilliant. So true.

 

 

post #9 of 17

You know, being an adoptee has really given me a different perspective on the whole mother/baby bonding immediately after birth thing. To hear some of the NCB rhetoric, the immediate bonding experience is soooooo important that if it doesn't happen, the baby will never be normal. If that's true, then I must not be at all normal! I was never given a chance to bond with my birthmother, and I was cared for by strangers for 3 weeks prior to being adopted by the parents who raised me. Oddly enough, I function well in society in spite of this impairment.

 

I think the thing we often miss is the remarkable power of resilience. Human beings can survive and even thrive in an astonishing variety of circumstances. We should be proud of ourselves when we demonstrate that!

 

Bonding right away is great if it just happens. Bonding gradually over time is completely within a normal range of experience, no matter how you give birth. It's important to keep that in perspective, IMO.

post #10 of 17
Quote:

Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post


The only metaphor I can use is if you were on a sinking ship, and you jumped into a lifeboat with someone, and it was just the two of you, you would bond with that person. By going through something incredibly hard together, and knowing that your survival depends on being together, you bond. That's how I felt with my DD.


nod.gif

 

That's EXACTLY how I felt with DD.  I only saw her for about two hours, on and off, before she was airlifted to another city 4 hours away (by car).  I had no idea which one was my baby when we walked into the NICU about 36 hours after she was born. DH pointed her out and I said no, that's not my baby.  It couldn't be, you know? Like the way animals leave their sick babies to die.  I feel awful about it to this day, but it was like she just COULDN'T be mine.  And it took us a long time, but now I can't imagine being closer to anyone in the world.  There are so many mamas with our experience--I wish every one of us would speak up so that we wouldn't feel so awfully alone.  love.gif

 

post #11 of 17

OMG reading these posts has both made me cry and lifted this huge weight off my chest. I had my son just over 2 months ago and the labor went from all natural (I wanted a water birth at home with a doula and no pain meds) to having him in a hospital with an epidural after 12 or so hours of labor and then 8 hours later a c-section. First the doula was on vacation and her backup wasn't available. The 2nd backup didn't show up for hours and then left when the 1st backup arrived. It was a complete circus and I felt like I was in some horrible nightmare where people kept coming and going and talking about me as if I was there.

 

About 4 hours after they gave me the epidural, they stopped it completely and then gave me 4 hours to push (fully dialeted, etc) but I couldn't get him past 0 station. The nurse kept telling me I wasn't pushing and I can't explain how humiliated I was when after 3 hours she asked if I wanted to sit on the toilet since she insisted I wasn't pushing and would do better on the toilet. I kept thinking what kind of idiot I must be to not know how to push. I was screaming like a child and begging them to let me get up since my back was killing me. Since my water broke on its own I was at the point of no return and things needed to progress, but my body just failed me. I can't even write the horrible thoughts I was having. Needless to say, after an hour of the "toilet thing" I started begging for a c-section. My son was 3 weeks early and 9lbs 12 oz. The doc said his torso was neatly as big as his head and if birthed him vaginally then I probably would have dislocated his shoulder. It was such a horrible experience. I know I should believe the doctor and accept that this is the way things were meant to go, but I still secretly feel like a big failure. And what's more I feel like other moms who were able to deliver naturally kind of look down their nose at me.

 

I've been carrying all this baggage around with me and am just finally starting to feel like a real mom. Thanks for listening.

post #12 of 17

Welcome, scubachick! I'm glad you found us.

 

You've been through a lot. hug2.gif This is a safe place to share & get support. I hope you'll share more as you're ready.

post #13 of 17

Just found this group and this thread.

 

My first born rainbow baby was a home birth turned hospital transfer for legal reasons turned c/s. After 37 hours of labor that started with my waters breaking my son had to be cut out of me. DH stayed with him when he was whisked away, and I didn't get to hold him until an hour and a half after his birth. He wouldn't nurse the whole time we were in the hospital, and even though he did start nursing at 4 days old once we got home, the whole nursing thing was a disaster that didn't make it to 3 months. I was still finding out about what happened during that first hour and a half a year later. I struggled so much with guilt and feeling like a failure, and on top DS1 was a daddy's boy from birth. I got so jealous watching the bond between them. I still don't feel as bonded as DH is to him, and he'll be 2 in a few weeks.

 

I got pregnant again when DS1 was 6 months old. I did get my HBAC this time, as it was that or RCS as there were no hospital VBAC options in my area. Even though I have now had that natural birth experience and have a wonderful nursing relationship and close bond with DS2, I still feel bad about all the things that DS2 has had that DS1 hasn't due to how I birthed them. I thought the HBAC would be healing, and in many ways it was, but it also leaves me feeling like even more of a failure with DS1. I find myself asking why it couldn't have worked properly for DS1 too.

 

While I wish none of us had gone through this, it is comforting to know that it isn't just me being crazy and that it is actually kind of normal.

post #14 of 17
Thank you for starting this thread!

I didnt start bonding till he was 11 mo old , when I quit working full time and became SAHM. I did not know how important it was for me to spend 24 hrs with him. I now feel connected and he is 2yrs old. My best friend, my colleague, we TTC together and she was 27 days ahead in our pregnancies. She planned a normal hospital birth and ended up with no pain med natural birth! And I will never be able to explain to her how I feel.

I am genuinely curious how non AP mamas feel who have same birth experience as ours? Does being AP at heart make it more painful for us?
post #15 of 17

My daughter is now 3 1/2 months old and really thriving.  I was in labour for 14 or so hours before my c-section and I didn't get to hold her for four hours afterward, where I too felt that she was completely disconnected from the child in my womb.

  I was absolutely devastated by the whole horrible event and not bonding with her was killing me.  There is so little out there on how to bond with baby after a c-section, mostly just the 'be patient, it will happen' thing which simply does not work for my personality type.  Every day I didn't bond with her was just adding to my nightmare, what if I was patient and it never happened??  What would become of her?  This is probably due to the AP at heart that Amy@STL mentioned, and for me it provided motivation.

 Breastfeeding, babywearing, baby massage, they all helped, but they didn't quite get me as close as I wanted to be with my daughter.  One thing I did was to take her with me to do one of my favourite ways to relax - I lay down under a tree and looked up.   I glanced over to her lying there beside me to make sure she wasn't getting when she met my eyes and grinned, and something electric passed between us, like my child self just met her and collided with who I am now.  This was my emotional bonding moment.

  I found one lady who finally bonded with her baby when she started bathing with her child.  I got pooped on the first time I tried it which broke my heart at the time but now I guess it's pretty funny.  The lady said it was something about being wet, like the baby would be fresh from the womb, that enabled the bonding.

  I treated 'skin to skin' as my daughter in a diaper and me nursing her with my top off and  wondered what the fuss was about.  One day she had an incredible meltdown in the bath so I had no choice but to jump out with her to nurse right away without any stops along the way.  After she recovered, we cuddled and played together for a while, comfortably naked and peaceful.  Somehow being naked together gave us an incredible, unconscious, physical bond that I can only describe as sharing a mind.  I never expected that to be possible, but somehow it enables us to just connect on a level I've never had with another human being.  This always brings me back to that lady who needed her baby to be wet, because if my daughter and I had met the way we were 'supposed' to, we would have been naked and nothing would have separated her from the body that grew her.  It's as if by cuddling naked we are able to recapture the moments that we'd lost and I could finally connect this little being to the one I grew inside me - our physical bond.

  I stopped worrying about our bond about a month ago, and now I'm so head over heels in love motherhood is everything I hoped that it would be and that I thought I'd lost.  It will forever bother how alone I felt, though, and how hard it was to find what I needed.  I really believe there should be a huge database somewhere with a million different ways c-mamas like us finally bonded with their babies, because then at least we could have some idea of where to begin, and at the very least dispel the shame that we feel.  Please talk about it, please share your story, it's so important to someone.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynann View Post

DS1 was a daddy's boy from birth. I got so jealous watching the bond between them. I still don't feel as bonded as DH is to him,

 This was how I felt too.  DS and DH have always had a great bond and sometimes I wonder if it is because DH went with him as soon as he was pulled out of me and I didn't get to touch/see him for the first hour or so.  Plus he looks more like DH I think (which made him feel less like mine), so I was always kind of jealous that they were so close.

 

This topic is tricky for me because I told myself going in that I shouldn't put too much pressure on myself with the bonding because I read some stories from NCB mamas who had trouble with bonding too.  I didn’t have any hopes/dreams or a perfect birth that I was hoping for/expecting.  I was really wanting the NCB for the scientific benefits to the baby over medicalized birth (hormones, alertness, getting the stuff out of their lungs, etc.)  I did miss out on the euphoria that I read so much about, but I am kind of weird anyway and wondered if I would have felt it even if I had a vag birth.  I knew in my heart that I'd be a good mom but at first I just felt like a babysitter who never got a break.  He didn’t feel like mine.  I did feel protective of him, in that I didn't want anything to harm him, but I did not have that strong mama bear instinct that I thought I would have.

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
at first I just felt like a babysitter who never got a break.  He didn’t feel like mine.

 

Yeah, I totally felt this with DS. 

 

I guess I'm not sure when the bond finally came. There was no one moment, I don't think. But it certainly helped when he was able to start smiling. I didn't know that babies don't really smile right away, and for some babies, it can take a longer time. The books said he would start doing so at like six weeks. Bah! Ours didn't for a long time. Not being able to get him to laugh or smile at me was absolutely killing me. When he finally looked at me and smiled when I made a face, I felt like we were on the right track.

 

I love this idea of sharing bonding moments, having a database, as someone said. So true. You have to fall in love with your baby, and everyone falls in love differently! Some people it's instant, others it is a long gradual process. 

 

I often wonder if I would've fretted over it all so much if I hadn't read so much, prior to birth, about how having a c/s would totally ruin our bond. I feel like that stuff just made me super paranoid about the whole thing.

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