Birth is a funny thing; one minute there’s a stranger you’ve never met inside you, and the next your flesh and blood is in your arms, and you make the quantum leap from anticipatory attachment to full-on, I-would-die-for-you infatuation. Unless you don’t.
Plus: What to Do When the Bond Isn’t Instant
Writer Jessica Valenti shares in a bravely honest essay in The Guardian her hesitation to fully love her newborn daughter Layla, born 11 weeks early and very sick. With Layla’s body rendered less-than-cuddly by IVs, wires and feeding tubes, and a tendency to stop breathing and turn blue when being held, Valenti found herself slow to attach.
Plus: The New Dad’s Guide to Baby Bonding
When your entrance into parenthood isn't marked with flowers and congratulations, but a deadly disease and a baby that is 2lb of sagging skin hanging from fragile bones, your brain simply doesn't let the possibility of a happy ending enter the picture. Better not get attached, it tells you. This does not look promising…there's a difference between having love for someone and being able to feel it. I had so much love for Layla that I couldn't bear to let it manifest, lest she would be taken away from me. I had to slowly, over months, convince myself that she wasn't going to die after all – that it was OK to get attached.
Plus: Back-to-Work Baby Bonding
My son was born 6 weeks early, and immediately whisked away by the NICU team for evaluation before I could see him. I stole glimpses between the bodies crowded around him, and as they moved to take him upstairs, timidly asked if I could see and hold him. Every new mom wants that iconic moment of holding your baby for the first time, and the fact that no one offered it scared me. Was the situation that dire? In the end, I held him for about 10 seconds, just enough time for my husband to get a really unflattering photo, and then off he went. Later, when we went to the NICU to see him, they had us wait because he was getting an IV and not happy about it. I could hear a baby screaming in pain, and knew it was mine, but since I didn’t even know him well enough to pick him out of a line-up, I felt oddly detached. Bonding came in leaps and bounds over the next few days as he thrived in the NICU, but I can completely understand Valenti’s hesitation. I think it’s natural for even moms and dads of completely healthy babies to be slow to bond, even though it’s something few parents talk about.
Plus: Bonding With Preemies
Did you love your baby right away? Or was it more of a falling-in-love process that took place over days, week or months?