My LO is past 2 yrs old and I'm finally admitting "out loud" (except under a different username, please forgive me) that I don't love him the way I'm supposed to. Here is why I say so. I read blog posts or birth stories where new moms say stuff like:
(from a blog post here)
These sentiments are so wonderful and so beautiful and what I expected to happen. But it didn't. In more than 2 years it hasn't happened. Do I love my child? Yes, of course. But I've never FELT IT. Not deep down, life altering. I feel ... like my life is just chores and responsibilities. I'd rather be at work. I don't look forward to seeing my family at the end of the day. Being at home is a 2nd job, and not the one I like. And it's not because my child is in a "terrible toddler" stage. I've always felt this way. I kept waiting for it to change, for us to "bond", but it's not happening.
So I ask. Is this PPD or is there something else wrong with me? What mama doesn't want to be with her baby?
So, look, I have no idea whether this is PPD or not.
PPD is not a call we make on the basis of whether your feelings for your child meet an arbitrary standard set by people gushing about their feelings on the internet. That group is self-selecting: women with less then 100% positive gushy feelings are far less likely to blog about them. Also: sometimes women with less then 100% positive gushy feelings about their kids blog selectively.
You sound stressed, and maybe that is PPD, but maybe it's sleep deprivation and stress and general tiredness. These possibilities don't exactly rule each other out, either. You could have PPD and also be sleep deprived and stressed and exhausted.
I don't think there is anything wrong with you because you don't find your baby surreally perfect, and he's not the utter center of your universe. That kind of emotional intensity burns out for a lot of people (and burns out a lot of people). It takes a lot of energy out of you. It can be really rough on your other relationships.
You do sound like you'd like more joy in your life and in your relationship with your kid. There's no reason not to talk to a therapist, but it's quite possible that you need a vacation, more sleep, a massage, and, I dunno, a safe, bounded space where you and your child can both relax and be around each other without it feeling like work.
I didn't bond with my son, and I think it was PPD and I wish someone saw it so I could have gotten some help. I was isolated (my husband traveled a lot) and in a new town, new home, stuck with two needy dogs and an infant. I was so miserable.
I just remember screaming at my baby for him to stop crying sometimes because all I wanted to do was to lay in bed, alone. I would leave him in his crib or playpen with toys for hours. He was such a good baby too, thank God.
A good thing was that my mom stayed with me for the first couple of months. At least he got held and bathed regularly while she was there.
At night, when I would lie in bed, I felt a sense of despair that I never felt before. Looking back, I think I was mentally unstable, but I didn't even know it at the time, which is scary. Luckily, I didn't have these issues with my second child.
I would say when he was about a year old I started to snap out of it, but I certainly had my moments when I lost it over the years...just for a minute and then I would be fine....no feelings of despair, etc....just momentary screaming at the top of my lungs.
I agree with the other posters here that you shouldn't hold yourself to idyllic standards of how you're supposed to feel about your baby. On the other hand, it seems like its bothering you to some extent?
It makes me wonder about your birth experience/immediate postpartum. They say that it's a critical time for bonding with your baby, and I feel like if that is interrupted, it can make bonding a lot harder (at least, based on comparing my two birth experiences and how I have talked with other mamas about it).
I can see where there would be a lot of biology involved in that initial bonding too, it terms of baby being colonized with mama's (or someone else's) flora...kind of like the thing where if you touch a pet's baby too soon after its born the mother will reject it because it doesn't smell right...just a thought. Which is to say its a complicated process of bonding.
My experience has been that it is more of a process of bonding over time than an instantaneous and overwhelming switch into baby love mode. Although, I did have that more with DS1 than DS2. I feel like it definitely takes effort to bond and keep bonding.
Do you feel like you want to be closer with your child and you want to bond more deeply? Or is it more like you are wanting to know if it's ok for you to parent how you're parenting now because its working for you, but you don't want to feel guilty comparing yourself with how you're supposed to feel?
I can relate to what you're saying. My daughter is almost 2. I love her very much and I do feel like we've bonded, but it took awhile. I don't feel gushy about parenthood the way some people do, at least not in the way those quotes describe. It has been very intense and interesting but definitely not euphoric. I definitely hear what jmarroq is saying above. I went back to work part-time 3 months after she was born and definitely have had PPD. In the first year it was serious. We didn't have any daycare or outside childcare until she was 14 months old - my husband and I traded who would stay at home with her. I would say I was pretty much miserable. After we started 3 days a week of daycare, it started to get easier and as she has gotten older I enjoy being with her more and more. But like you, I focus a lot on the chores and responsibilities and sometimes I've felt guilty that I'm not more... I don't know, over the moon joyful about being a mom. For me, it's been clear due to a number of symptoms that I've been dealing with PPD since she was born. Like the other posters, I think that it's absolutely OK if you don't feel the way you think you're "expected" to feel. It's hard to let go of how we THINK things should be. At the same time, I think that whether it's classic "PPD" or not, maybe it's time to figure out what you can do for yourself to feel more involved and content in your life. That's what I'm finally working on now and I know it's hard.
I wish I remember where I read it - it may have been Ask Moxie - but it was a great article about how some moms just don't like the baby to age 3 stage. And that's okay.
I feel for you. Keep us updated!