Bonding: When nature fails nurture prevails.
I was tired. I gasped for air and felt the sweat beads coming down the sides of my neck. I looked into my mom's face for answers and I saw pity and sadness. I saw fear and love at the same time. I saw my best friend's eyes and they told me don't give up. I raised myself a little bit more and gave it the last bit of energy I had. I grabbed God and my faith and pushed. I gave it my all and I gave her life, "Welcome to the world baby girl". At that exact moment I never felt that powerful and weak at the same time.
I am home with my baby girl. I stare at her and I ask myself what am I suppose to feel? I love her. Yes! I do. But is not that profound head over heels love they tell you about. I care for her. Yes! But I don't know if it is extinct, responsibility, or the mere nature of this role. Why can't I feel connected to this new role and to her? Why am I not like those Instagram moms that are full into their motherhood role and are ready to give everything up for their child. I am more like ready for a drink and some girl talk.
Back track to about 3 or 4 years before I had my daughter. A friend and I were sitting with my mother, having a few drinks. Liquor courage led to my friend asking my mother if she felt motherly and that instant bond as soon as she had me. How my mom answered surprised the hell out of me. My mother explained that she didn't feel she was a mother until her second child was born. She felt that because she went through a lot of turmoil and heartbreak during her pregnancy when she had me it distracted her from the experience of having her first child. She was too caught up in her pain to understand the joy.
Now here I find myself in the mist of a relationship breaking a part and with a 4 month old. All I wanted to do was cry. Cry because I didn't understand why I wasn't connecting with my baby. To the world I was a great mom. Always there, responsible, my baby was healthy and put together, but in reality I just wanted to run from the responsibility of being a mother now that I was facing it alone. This is not what I signed up for. I never even knew I wanted children. I was still selfish and I did this for the love of a man who in turn became scared shitless of the task and of me and decided to end this union that was meant to be forever.
At around the 6 month mark of my pregnancy I saw a change in him and in me. He became scared of what was about to come despite him being the one asking me to have a kid. I was always crying and an emotional wreck. I suffered from depression and bipolar disorder during my teens and now I felt it again just heighten. We argued a lot. I would lock myself in the closet and cry. His mother would call me and ask me to calm down as my erratic spurts of depression can affect the baby's nervous system. She had experience what I was going through and told me that that had caused her last child to be born with an extraneous tick. This helped me gained the strength to refocus my emotions. I prayed to God and asked him to help me protect this unborn child and set aside these feelings. Two weeks after my baby shower I found out there was someone else. This time instead of going into an erratic state I walked out and kept walking. I walked around for hours and told myself I didn't care and that once I had the baby I was going to leave.
To deal with this, to deal with the new role of motherhood, and all the other things people fail to tell you like your body will change, breastfeeding is another emotional roller coaster, and you are physically so tired that you can't think straight. IT was all too much. Then, I began to be hard on myself for not feeling the bond and starry love I was hoping to have with my daughter. I would look forward to nights where I got to go out and drink enough to forget I was a mother. To enjoy the freedom that I no longer had. The thing is that once you are a mom there is this underlying pressure every time you walk out the door that you had to be conscious that you had someone home waiting for you. Every time I stepped out I had this pressure and this was the only sign I had that I cared for that little girl. The fact that I no longer was as careless and that I cared enough to make it back home. I knew that I loved her because I wanted to come back home... eventually.
After the dust settle and I decided to live on my own I was hoping to have an epiphany and finally fall in love with her. Not quite. But I did begin to enjoy time with her much more. I dedicated blocks of my week just for her, to make sure I created new memories and experiences to be stronger than the old negative ones. There were nights were it was just us two. She would get sick and I felt my heart break to see her so helpless. Other times where I saw her growing and learning new things like potty training and doing things on her own made me proud to be her mom. And then... it happened.
It was one of my free weekends and I was out partying. I was drinking with friends and having a grand time. I woke up Sunday morning with a banging head ache. The first thing that came to mind was "I miss my baby girl". And just like that I felt it. I felt the need to be with her. To see her and hug her. To not be out partying and just be home with her. I was happy and in a stable state in my life that allowed me to see the joy in motherhood. This allowed me to bond with her naturally and organically. It was like experiencing her birth all over again. I felt joy.
I say this because there is the underlying pressure from the moment we are pregnant to connect and bond with our children. This doesn't happen to everyone and it is ok. Especially if you are experiencing impactful events like a demise of a relationship or a death in the family. We are humans and having a child is a really significant thing in ones life. It is a lot to take in and a lot to get use to. Allow yourself time to embrace the role naturally rather than be hard on yourself. Focus on going through the motions of what is preventing you from bonding and let those blockages to lift in order for you to grow and finally embrace motherhood. Look for the little things that remind you that there is love, you just need to find it. For me it was making sure I always made it back home. And I am happy I did because home is where my heart is, my little girl.