Not feeling attached to my Nicu baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 11-29-2011, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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My story is kinda long....but I will do my best to make this short.


At 20 weeks we went to find out the sex of our baby.  They sent us to L&D and explained I was in labor and 4cm dilated and would likely lose this baby. I laid in L&D for a week before being sent to High Risk.  Everyone expected the baby to come, my water broke at 23 weeks, and he was born at 24 weeks and 5 days.


He spent 117 days in the Nicu.  I saw him almost everyday. We just brought him home last week.  I look at him and I think total miracle.  He is so lucky to be alive and not a single issue with him, other than ROP and small lung issues.  How lucky and blessed are we.   I love him because I know all that he has been through and what I went through with him. 


When he was born, I didn't even really see him before he was carried away.  I didn't hold him for a month after he was born.  Now he is home and I don't feel attached to him at all.  I feel like he is someone else's baby boy and I am entrusted to care for him. I am doing my best to hold him and love him but the bonding isn't coming like I hoped it would. 


With my first baby girl, I was so in love.  I couldn't bare to be away from her.  I never put her down and I hated to hear her cry.  I feel so bad that I don't feel the same about my son.  What is wrong with me?  I'm not depressed.  I thrilled he is home and alive but I didn't expect to feel so much like he isn't mine. 


Please tell me this will change. Anyone out there have a Nicu baby who they spent 4 months away from?

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#2 of 7 Old 11-29-2011, 09:55 AM
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I haven't brought my NICU baby home yet.. but I think it's understandable why you wouldn't feel the same way.  We entrust them to the doctors and nurses to take care of them and sometimes it feels like we are just visiting.  I don't get to make all the decisions about his care.  I have to do things on the hospital's schedule instead of mine.  Sometimes I have to ask permission to do things.  It's very much like visiting someone else's baby in those aspects.  Give it some more time and hopefully things will improve as you realize you are in control now.  I love my son an incredible amount.. but sometimes I also feel like he isn't mine.

Married to my other half

Mama to Madeline (07-10-07) and Finley (10-17-11)

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#3 of 7 Old 11-29-2011, 10:06 AM
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My baby was only in the NICU for a little over a week and I still had trouble attaching to her because of it.  It is a weird feeling losing all control over your own child, having to ask for permission to do things, and doing it all on the hospital's schedule.  I can't imagine 117 days.  I think you should really go easy on yourself.  I believe that with time these feelings will go away and he will feel completely like "yours".  Bonding can take some time (even with babies who are never in the NICU).  That definitely doesn't make you a bad parent or anything.  And I think the magic of a first child is always a little different too.  So try not to compare feelings too much from this baby to the last.


Hope it all gets better for you soon. 

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#4 of 7 Old 11-30-2011, 04:51 PM
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My 27-weeker was in the NICU for 80 days, home for about 1 month now.  When she came home, it was like having a newborn I had never met before in some ways.  On the other hand, I felt like I was personally and hormonally 'callused,' and was 80-days removed from the warm fuzzy oxytocin love-fest of "bonding."  I had gone bak to being my previous self in a lot of ways (back to work, sleepin 6 hours at night, having some control over my own schedule, etc).  Plus she hasn't learned how to breastfeed, so her getting pumped milk is like being one further step removed.  She is my first baby so I don't have anything to compare to.  But I do feel in some ways that I know her better (like, her cues, personality etc) than I would have otherwise.  My husband is closer to her.  I have a lot of respect for her and am proud of what she has accomplished and what she is doing now.  The NICU sucks and I am not interested in putting a positive spin on it.  The relationship I have with my daughter is very different than it would have been if she was term and healthy, I'm sure.  But I don't think it is bad, just different.  People further out from this experience than us have told me that the relationship continues to evolve, the trauma of the NICU never totally goes away but becomes woven into the tapestry of our lives creating a fabric no less beautiful than your other children. 

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#5 of 7 Old 12-02-2011, 02:50 PM
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I can't relate to the NICU but I did feel very distant from my DD after she was born. Then I felt guilty. Then I felt even more distant and it became a cycle of guilt and distance. Luckily I was encouraged to accept the feelings I was having and quit beating myself up emotionally about not being in a total bliss like everyone else thought i'd be. You have been under a lot of stress and I'm sure you had very different expectations. It is ok to be disappointed and in a funk about bonding. You have to do it on your own terms and can't really fake or force it.


It is hard not to compare the first birth to the second but you might be better off embracing this new relationship on whatever terms it brings. So maybe you guys aren't deeply bonded at birth. There is plenty of time together coming up. This may be the kid that gets your jokes and shares your love of pastry making ... only right now it is way too soon to see all that.



SAHM to DD born 12/09 
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#6 of 7 Old 12-02-2011, 03:45 PM
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My son was born 33 weeks and in hospital just over a month. I feel bonded to him but feel similar to what Ratchet described in that life outside of being at the hospital with him was somewhat it's a huge transition when the birth is a distant memory, and also I found early days with my full termers I was still in a haze from the birth and physically tender, whereas I had to have a c/s this time and even that was healed fully by the time he came home. My main difference I think is that with my full termers, I was never seperated from them from the minute they were born. And I never wanted to be or was happy to be - not even running up to the shops for five minutes. Whereas I think with this baby, I had to learn to be able to seperate from him - and as much as it devestated me and made me want to curl up in a corner and cry, I couldn't, I had to make things as normal as possible for my older children, so I kind of got used to being away from him in the evenings. So now, while I don't like being away from him much, I did find myself running up to the shops the other night once my husband got home and could hold the fort, without even thinking about it too much. And that saddens me..that I had to learn to be ok being away from him, and that's a part of our relationship now.....


I'm looking forward to him reaching the age where hes been home longer than he was in hospital then he'll be more mine than theirs. And I'm scared of him being sick and having to be back in hospital and losing all that I've worked to gain, that he becomes theirs again and I don't get to decide things for him

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#7 of 7 Old 05-23-2012, 09:00 PM
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My eldest was at 35 weeks when I was rushed to the hospital due to HELLP Syndrome (extreme version of pre-eclampsia) and I was put on Magnesium Sulfate at a high dose to regulate my blood pressure.  I remember nothing about his birth at all, I vaguely remember touching him for a second a day after I had him...but that was it.  It was 3 days after he was born before I was finally off the MgSO and was able to walk or concentrate on anything and I finally went to see him then.  When I did it was almost like, how could I be sure he was my baby????  I had no means to identify him other than the bracelet the hospital put on him and me.  He thankfully had nothing wrong with him other than a little jaundice.  But even after we brought him home it would still take me awhile to adjust to the idea that he really was my son.  The bonding did take longer for me, I think he was 3 months before I finally got over the shock of it all.  We basically bonded over his first smile and his first word (momma).  I know my separation from him was much less than yours ( he was only in NICU for 8 days) but I agree that you just need to  give yourself some time.  It will come.  

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