I read this over the weekend and it really resonated with me – I had to learn to love my baby.
As a mom of two and having come to motherhood via an unconventional path… my experience with both my babies was completely and utterly different.
With Ava, getting to watch her being born, watching squall her first breath, all purple and wrinkled and covered in goo and then cutting her cord, the moment she was laid in my arms and I looked into her scrunched up little face, I was overcome with an outpouring of love so overwhelmingly strong, that no movie, literature or conversation could ever have prepared me for. I loved her so intensely and so deeply, it knocked the breath out of me. I knew, in an instant, that I’d stand in front of a speeding train save her. And that feeling, that outpouring of emotion is still present today, almost 6 years on. Even after we brought her home and things got tough, I never ever fell out of love with her. Even when she screamed night after night, for 6 weeks straight, with colic, I loved her, with every fiber of my being, I loved her, I’d die for her.
A few years later and a dramatic change in the child act and we were informed that Hannah would be placed with us. We were sent some photo’s of her prior to placement and instead of that outpouring of instant and overwhelming emotion, I felt…. nothing. I looked at the photo’s of her, my sweet little baby girl and I could have been looking at a stock photo catalogue. And then I started to stress and feel hugely guilty that I felt nothing.
Placement day came and went and still, I looked at this little baby and while I knew that I would protect her and care for her, to the best of my ability, I didn’t have that overwhelming outpouring of emotion.
Then Hannah started struggling, like really struggling, all the repetitive behaviours, the wrist and ankle circles, the incessant crying, the screaming when she was touched and we landed up at an OT where she was diagnosed with post placement grief and trauma. Ever hear that expression that people who need the most love ask for it in the worst possible ways? That’s how I felt about Hannah. I didn’t feel bonded to her, and what we were going through made trying to bond with her even tougher.
It was a really really hard time, there were days when I deeply regretted being so desperate for a second child. There were moments when I was overcome with guilt that this innocent little baby, who hadn’t asked for any of this, had landed up in my care, I felt so completely unequipped to give her what she needed and I kept thinking, if I could just feel about her the way I do about Ava, things would be so much easier!
Fast forward a couple of years and I can confidently say I love that little girl to the ends of the earth and back. I have such a soft spot for her, for her start in life and for what she has already had to overcome. She is truly my sweet baby girl.
But it was hard to admit that I didn’t bond with her initially. Especially as an adoptive mother because I felt so much additional pressure because of our extraordinary circumstance, I felt that I couldn’t express how truly horrible a time we were having, I was terrified of being judged – by other mom’s for not loving my baby as I felt I should and by my infertility sisters for getting what we’d all yearned for and then not embracing it as fully as I could and should have.
I guess the point of all of this is that if you in anyway relate to what I’ve written above, I want to encourage you, I want to let you know that regardless of your path to motherhood, it’s pretty normal to be feeling a mix of all of these things. If you’re a new mom, it’s ok to mourn your old life, I did, after nearly 8 years of infertility, a part of me did and still does, long for the life I had prior to having kids. If you’re a mom, regardless of how you got here, it’s ok, you will be ok, it’s normal to have a mix of emotions, it’s normal to not instantly bond, it’s ok if you don’t, you will in time, don’t beat yourself up about it.