I am the bio mom of a wonderful healthy 4 month old boy. I love him to death, and I know so does my partner, but I see her struggling to find her role in out family...I try so hard to assure her that she is every bit his mother as much and I am, and that that is what matters, not what others say or think, or that people may ask who carried him when they realise we are a couple.. it's hard..i push for her to take as much of an active role with his care as I do, but I find her resisting, treating me like I am his primary caregiver and she is just support...I want her to spend more time with him, so that there is never any preference over her to me when he is just so used to me doing so much more. She backs off, and it seems like she is having trouble maintaining and strengthening her bond with him, and seems a little jealous or resentful that i am breastfeeding...she thinks he wants me, but really he just wants milk...he doesnt snuggle with me at all unless its feeding time, for her, she can get him to nap and sleep on her for hours...I get jealous of that! I want non nutrient snuggles too!!
Anyone have any words of advice, or encouragement or similar experiences that may be able to help us put before she pulls back any further? It's important to me that she feels like his mummy, and that he feels it to!
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post links to my own blog or not... so if that is against the rules, then someone tell me so I can remove this. But anyway, I recently wrote a post about how non-breastfeeding parents can have physical connection with their babies here: http://themiddleofeverything.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/skin-to-skin-contact-and-the-non-breastfeeding-parent/
Some of the suggestions there might help your partner to grown into her parent role. Keep in mind though, that while some people adjust very quickly to parenthood, others don't and that's okay too. The relationship will develop over time. Sounds like you're both trying to figure out how best to organize your roles. Hang in there! Actually, some of the suggestions in that post might be helpful for you too if you are seeking some non-nursing snuggle time. :) I'm interested to see what other suggestions people have.
Mama to two, and second-time surrogate. Expecting May 2015.
I won't pretend that this solved it all. Breastfeeding mom is way different from non-breastfeeding mom. In our house that is much more of the issue. But it's worth a shot, IMO.
Taking a class on her own with the babe is a great idea, I ran it by her last night and said how it's important for her to be 'the mom' as you said it...there is a drop in play group on tuesdays and I am hoping she will do that with him and make it a weekly thing. Thanks for the idea :) Breastfeeding is still obviously going to be a struggle for us, but now that he has started on some cereal, and will soon be adding more solids, I think that issue can become a lesser one. I just so want us to be partners in parenting, on an equal level. It will take some perseverance on both our parts but I have faith that we can find a balance. Thanks again
Friends of mine really struggled with this but as their ds became older the non-breastfeeding partner did find it became much easier. For them it seemed to be more about time & reaching a different place in the parenting needs as much as anything.
fwiw - my dh & I had some of the same struggles, so I think this is one area where it is common issue.
Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).
I don't know what your work situation is, but one thing that really worked for us was each talking half-time maternity leave. After the initial few weeks at home, we each worked a 2 1/2 day schedule until she was about 6 months. There is nothing like being home alone all day with a baby to make you an expert, and if you are a woman with a baby at the park or the drs office, you are recognized as the mom without any qualifiers (in most cases-people often assume I'm the grandma).
Blogging at http://chronicladybug.blogspot.com
I have been on both sides of this, both feeling like I "should" hold back when our oldest was tiny, especially when she was very young, fearing that I might "mess up" nursing if I pushed for too much time/contact with her, and on the other side, after I gave birth to our youngest, and was frustrated that my wife seemed to be hanging back, prioritizing everything else in life (and admittedly, there was a LOT) above our new baby.
I'll echo the suggestions of time alone, both long stretches during the day (we set up leaves to make sure this happened for the non-bio-mom both times), and being out *in public* as osker smartly suggests. Despite being pretty aware of the issues, and very communicative, I didn't really gain my confidence as a mom until allthe baby decisions were on my watch for pretty long stretches of time, when I was primarily home with her from months two to 6. It definitely felt like a shift from our first two months both being home. I was forced to notice and decide when she was hungry, tired, etc. I couldn't defer.
If your partner is doing any feedings, I definitely recommend doing skin-to-skin during bottle feedings and making them long and snuggly.
One thing I also wonder is how much your partner is talking to you about how she's feeling, both during pregnancy and now? Are you just picking up that she's struggling or is she really talking about it? Did you get a sense that she struggled at all during pregnancy? I am an *extremely* communicative and forthright person, pretty darn in touch with most of what goes on in my head and my heart, and DAMN was I confused during that time. I really felt like I was flying blind, and thus that *we* were flying blind, and that was with an extremely supportive partner who (mostly) took my concerns, ideas and worries at face value (I.e. she didn't tell me I was "making things up" -- not that you are! But it happens). All of this to say if she's giving you *any* hints of what's going on for her, jump on it, really listen and dig in. It is *hard* to know how to talk about it, hard to even find words for the feelings and thoughts, because there is no script. The more you can draw her out on it, the more you can both engage and she can really feel your support, the better (at least that's what worked in our house).
Do consider looking up our blog. We've written so much about this stuff. Look up "first time second time" and in particular look for the post called "choosing to parent" (there's a search bar on the side, it's from July 2009, back when our second was a baby). It describes my wife's thoughts in shoes very similar to your partners, why she was taking a backseat, and what she did to get on more solid footing. And seriously, we have written tons on non-bio/bio-mom dynamics as they've played out at our house, so you both might be able to find something to relate to in there (we write about it precisely b/c it can be kind of hard to find support for situations like this. Even though we all go through them, a lot of it feels kind of like stuff you aren't supposed to talk about out loud).
Hang in there and good luck to all three of you.
DP was very resentful of my pregnancy in 2 ways: 1) I found out that i needed surgery during the pregnancy, and she "blamed" him for making it so risky, and 2) it literally put something between us, and she didn't like that she wasn't my top priority 24/7 anymore.
Her resentment flowed over into his 1st few months of life, but improved after i stopped BFing. I didn't stop by choice, but my supply was low and he demanded more and more formula supplementation, to the point where i regarded myself as nothing more than a milk flavored pacifier.
I tried creating special times for her to spend solely with our son, and that helped. Somewhere around 3 months old, she really began bonding with him and let herself love him as her son...and she finally started referring to herself as mama.
At 8 months old, we had a family tragedy and she really rallied for our son, and since then they are very close.
However, when times are trying she'll sometimes say something like "you're his real mom" and that makes me upset. I try harder than anyone to validate her motherhood, so i really wish she wouldn't refer to me as his " real mom" or " bio mom."
It gets better every day, but i will say this has probably been one of the biggest issues of our motherhood.
Hope it gets better for you and your DP.
I really have nothing to say except that I'm the intended NGP, but since I do all the insems and temp chartings and general responsibility making, I feel pretty involved. Maybe my attitude is different too? I don't really give a hoot that our first child won't be biologically related to me, since I decided as a teenager that biology meant very little when it came to parenting... I'll be cleaning puke and poop and pee on myself, so I think that genuinely qualifies me as a parent, no matter my child's genetics. Thanks for pointing all of this out, I may turn absolutely nutty when my DW is actually pregnant, so I'll happily keep this all in mind!! :D