Worried re bond with DD1 (5 weeks). Help please?

(25 Posts)
jewelsandbinoculars Wed 02-Jan-13 00:14:59

This will be long, sorry, but I feel like I need some help and would be pathetically grateful for any words of wisdom.

My first DC (a daughter) is now five weeks old. My partner, her dad, is very hands on and has been around for most of the time to date (two weeks paternity, then two short weeks at work, before the Christmas week off). We have been sharing care quite equally ? we thought. I am EBF, after a tough start, which takes a lot of time, and co-sleeping with her at night. DP has done most of the changing to date, and also the majority of the jiggling/winding. When we're all together, he carries her in the sling (I sling her when its just the two of us).

I had been blown away by how brilliant a dad he is. He is so natural and sweet with her. It also helps that he is infinitely more patient than I am and naturally more active (although I have been suffering a bit physically with some minor post-birth complications/enduring SPD) so more resilient to colicky outbursts etc.

Anyway during the first few weeks I was pleasantly surprised at how it was all going. I had a few good cries over things, cluster-feeds for example, but nothing that felt unusual. And in general we seemed to be generally coping better, and having more fun in the process, than most of our NCT friends. DP has also been very positive about what a good mum he thinks I am.

I am now scared that I'm not though; that I've got it all wrong and that I haven't really bonded with DD/don't love her enough, and worse that she somehow knows it.

She is quite a bright, alert little thing, and in most respects seems to be quite advanced developmentally, but I'd noticed her avoiding eye contact with me past when the books were saying she'd be becoming fascinated by my face, despite doing lots of other things 'early'. Save for a slight, suppressed anxiety about autism, I felt fine that this was indicative of her feeling overstimulated, and that eye contact/interaction would come when she was ready. I do know she is very little, and was keen to avoid unhelpful expectations.

But my worry is that over the past week both DP and I have become aware of a marked difference in the way DD reacts to DP and the way she reacts to me. She's frequently making sustained eye contact with DP now, following him round with her eyes and noticeably smiling/reacting positively to him. Yet she very rarely makes eye contact with me and never looks for me or seems pleased to see me. I try and interact with her, talk to/sing to/kiss her and she will actively turn her head and crane her neck to avoid looking at me.

Yesterday I was feeding her and she was gazing past me at DP and I just fell apart and cried. I felt like she didn't love me, like she'd sensed that I was an inadequate mother to her and that she was rejecting me. I felt like it symbolised how our future relationship would be (I have a complex relationship with my own mother). For a horrible moment I dreaded a future of trying to mother her knowing that she didn't want me.

Logically I know she is tiny, that she is far too young for concepts of 'love' and that according her adult motivations requiring knowledge of my own insecurities is, for want of a better word, bonkers. I'm worried that the sheer fact of my feeling the way I do despite that insight is indicative of PND (or similar). And that aside, I feel panicky that having felt like I was doing well (and that DP and I were sharing parenting in a really positive way) I have lost all my confidence, and am worried I am clearly not giving her what she needs from me. I feel that her refusal to look at me must be indicative of poor attachment.

I'm now thinking back to the last few weeks and thinking of all the times I fed her whilst watching TV or fiddling around distractedly on the laptop, or whatever, instead of consistently trying to interact with her. I'm also thinking of the many times she's been crying and I'd handed her over to my partner instead of trying to soothe her myself.

There's also been a good handful of times I've left her with her DP for a few hours to go for a swim or whatever. I'd thought that having time away from her would help me to be a better mother because I'd be more appreciative of her/more patient as a result, but now I am worrying that she's felt abandoned and its negatively affected her bond with me, and/or that the fact that I wanted (and if I am honest still do want) time away from her proves I am not adequately bonded with her. I don't know any other new mothers who have regularly chosen to be apart from their new babies.

DP will be back at work full time tomorrow and in suddenly feeling so down about all this I feel like the rug's been pulled out from under me, and like its destined to go really badly.

I really don't want to allow my anxieties to affect DD. I know, intellectually that she needs me - and that ideally she needs me unencumbered by negative thoughts. I just don't feel that she needs me (other than as a milk machine).

Sorry this is so long. But I wondered if anyone has any experience or insight that might help me process how I'm feeling, or deal with things better?

WinkyWinkola Wed 02-Jan-13 00:26:22

Nope. She's 5 weeks. This little girl is going to adore both her parents and is just not able to be discerning yet.

Sure she will play off one against the other when she's a lot older but right now, she can barely focus properly.

Carry on doting on her regardless. She's such a lucky girl to have adoring parents. There is NO way she had a preference yet if ever. Please don't read so much into a tiny baby's gaze.

WinkyWinkola Wed 02-Jan-13 00:27:20

And you're doing amazingly well as a new mum given all the physical challenges that come post birth. Swimming already too.

SquidgersMummy Wed 02-Jan-13 00:28:53

Just off to bed so it's a quickie. It will be fine, honestly. The first days alone when the dp goes back to work are daunting. But, you'll get into a rhythm together and you both need some snuggle time alone because it will reassure you. You are mummy. She loves and really needs you. My dd never looks at me when feeding - and I'm always fiddling with something when feeding. Enjoy some time together. The first weeks alone are for just enjoying snuggles, having naps together and no expectations about homework, or even getting out of your pjs. Have a little plan eg nap, dangle toys, feed, sing songs. Keep activities short but having some might give you a bit of confidence re what to do next. Just enjoy her and relax. Use the sling. And yes, hand her over for some time off when dp gets in. Have a good day xx

ellee Wed 02-Jan-13 00:36:57

Darling, she's 5wo. She can't see your dp. You're still coming down after all the pg hormones. Be happy you are def just being bonkers (as is normal) and it too will pass.

Plus when dc are older, they go through phases of prefering one parent over another. Perfectly normal.

Don't qworry about trying to interact with her consistently. She's 5wo. Just hold her and comfort her and all the things you are already doing. The interaction will increase quite naturally.

Am v impressed you're swimming! Keep it up!!

LadyWidmerpool Wed 02-Jan-13 00:39:16

Your little girl is lucky to have two such lovely nurturing parents! I found that I didn't truly feel bonded with my daughter until my husband was back at work and I was doing the bulk of the care. That's when I started to feel how needed and loved I was. Congratulations, and good luck!

SquidgersMummy Wed 02-Jan-13 00:41:02

....your r'ship with your mum has maybe brought these anxieties up....your insight, motivation and concern show your r'ship with your daughter is completely different smile

LadyWidmerpool Wed 02-Jan-13 00:42:05

Also you can't interact constantly, it would be too intense for both of you. Your baby needs time to just take things in. Trust your instincts and enjoy watching your choice of TV while you still can!

Pancakeflipper Wed 02-Jan-13 00:44:59

Stop overthinking this and I mean this very kindly cos' I think all mums overthink stuff at some point. You will worry yourself and not enjoy baby.

5 wks old.... All they want at that stage is milk, comfy bottom wear, warmth and love. You are doing all that. Just enjoy her and also make time for you to have a little break.

I found becoming a mum opened a vast amount of past stuff regarding my mother ( not great relationship).

I would have a chat to the DR or HV about how you feel. It's pretty hard at first, so many changes and I found myself clueless on what to do with a baby. Thankfully knowing what they want gets easier as they grow.

I think DS was quite a bit older when I felt like "this is my baby and I would tear through walls to get to him." I remember the first three months being an absolute blur.
DH got the first smile and could always soothe a wailing baby better than me, despite me breastfeeding for years. We laugh about it now because DS1 is 30 months and we've just had DS2 on boxing day. I'm mainly cuddling and breastfeeding a baby while I would rather be playing trains or duplo with DS1. turns out I'm better suited to.toddlers than DH is, and he's the baby sodding whisperer . . . who loses his rag over toddler strips before I do grin

give yourself a break, love. This parenting lark is a marathon, not a sprint, and you are doing marvelously x

NatashaBee Wed 02-Jan-13 00:56:37

Really - don't worry. Take it as a compliment that she is so used to you and thinks of you as such a constant that she looks around the room to see what else is going on. If she is fixated on your partners face, it's probably something as simple as him having stubble and the shades of light and dark which interest her. It sounds like you and your partner are making a great job of equal parenting, which is good news for the future when one of you needs to leave the other in charge to settle her.

that should be toddler STROPS not toddler strips. . though we do have very impressive post- bath nudey parades too grin

what I am trying to say is trust yourself- you love her and she knows it. DS1 and I are best buds despite me finding long periods of the baby phase dull, and breastfeeding with a novel or phone in hand! smile

Feelingood Wed 02-Jan-13 01:10:23

Ooh you are worrying aren't you, I think the amount of thought and breath of feeling in your post shows what a great mum you are and will be.

My DD is nearly 11 months she is my second I was worried she had a condition, and there was something wrong with her eyes when she was about your DDs age. Your body still is readjusting its Hormonal levels following birth, she is your first, your learning to the most important job ever, so it's ok to ask these questions, your are not I adequate mum.

I had a moment during my pregnancy when I found out I was having a girl as it made me face up to mother daughter stuff. (ds7) so it can be so etching that happens I've read about others on here questioning things, it's because you want to get it right and do your best.

On the PND front, I had this with DS, there is support here, your HV, GP and discuss with your DH, this is key how you work together as parents and as a couple.

Your DH sounds great but remember he hasn't been growing a baby and recovering for a birth and BF which is lot, a bloody lot.

Keep going you sound lovely.

CaseyShraeger Wed 02-Jan-13 01:31:24

It's actually not unusual for them to avoid eye contact with you when you're very close for the first few months - it's a strategy to avoid overstimulation. DS (now a perfectly normal rising-8yo) did it until he was about 4 months (constantly looking over my shoulder when I was holding him, then sliding his gaze quickly over my face before happily staring over my other shoulder) and I was concerned until a helpful OT reassured me. If you're getting eye contact at nappy change time or other occasions when you're that little bit further away then there's nothing to worry about (in terms of her development or that she might not have bonded with you properly).

If someone I trusted had offered me a couple of daytime hours off when my firstborn was that age I would have taken them up on it like a shot. Even as it was, as soon as DH got back from work I would thrust DS at him and at least grab some "not focusing on the baby" time.

Honestly, everything you are describing sounds quite normal.

CaseyShraeger Wed 02-Jan-13 01:33:06

Sorry, I should have said NT rather than normal. Although he does still get overstimulated quite easily, just not enough for it to be a problem or something requiring a label.

piprabbit Wed 02-Jan-13 01:47:10

I read your post and just wanted to give you the most massive hug.
You both sound like great parents, who have been really working together to fulfill all your lovely little DDs needs.
There is nothing more you need to be doing.
There is nothing more you should be doing.
You and your DP are your DD's whole world at the moment. She doesn't even know that you are three distinct individuals at the moment, she doesn't understand that you are separate people.
Don't put yourself under any extra pressure, don't worry that your DD is or isn't doing things by the book (babies rarely do anything by the book - which can be a source of anxiety to parents even when the babies are blissfully unaware of what they are 'supposed' to be doing), just enjoy these first few special weeks, then the first few special months, then the first few special years.
So much easier said than done though - hence the hug grin.

Bryzoan Wed 02-Jan-13 02:11:00

You're overthinking this. She's 5 weeks old. It sounds as though you are doing brilliantly - and it is lovely for all of you that you are sharing the care so well. I'm sure you will be fine when your dp goes back to work - it is just a case of building confidence.

Don't read too many books and get too caught up on milestones yet- plenty of time for that. Just enjoy her and try not to judge yourselves.

Also - get yourself over to the November 2012 thread in 'postnatal clubs' November-2012-losing-sleep-and-losing-weight . Lots of lovely mums over there - some who have had similar worries. A bit of hand l holding goes a long way. My dc2 is 5 weeks today and I've found hearing how others in a similar place are doing has really helped me keep things in context.

NewYearNewHat Wed 02-Jan-13 04:39:46

She is still so tiny. Eye contact avoidance is most likely over stimulation. SO maybe try some strategies to avoid that.Try not to worry about it. It sounds like you are doing a great job.

My DS has always seemed to favour my DH to me, he loves playing with him and he has always settled for him faster right from the start. Also as I did most of the parenting I think DS liked the change!

Sometimes I think it was because I was breastfeeding he would get confused when he was tired and overstimulated. He needed to sleep, but instead of sleeping he would want to feed. Smelling my milk perhaps?

Sometimes it would feel like he was in some sort of feeding frenzy and he would get upset. I would get DH to settle him when he was like this (if he was around) and he would settle straight away.

It was much harder though when I was by myself so I would try and use a swing to settle him or take him for a walk in the buggy so there was a bit of distance physically between us.

Bonsoir Wed 02-Jan-13 05:04:51

Please, please stop worrying. You are trying too hard to get it right and overthinking. She is a tiny, tiny baby and her reactions to you are guided by instinct and very little else. Carry on cuddling her and responding to her needs (and ensuring your DH gets his share of doing the same) and all will be just fine.

LovesBeingAtHomeForChristmas Wed 02-Jan-13 05:50:27

I've not read the other replies, but I bet you 10 million they say, she's only 5 weeks old, you are doing amazing, don't be so hard on yourself, she can't see that far to gaze past you to someone else, won't hurt to speak to your midwife or pop into your gp.

Sweetheart to some degree most mums will feel this way and yes for some it does mean pni. Please don't be scared. To have recognized this and to act is a massive help.

waterrat Wed 02-Jan-13 08:02:21

First - you sound like an amazing mum.

second - as everyone here has said - at 5 weeks she doesn't even know you are a separate being to her yet. She can't see as far as your partner over your shoulder in any clear detail - she thinks you are her right arm - maybe as others say, she is just enjoying gazing at the light on his face.

I played on my iphone or read my kindle throughout all breastfeeding! please don't think you need to stare at your baby - for thousands of years babies would have just been in a sling with mum feeding while chatting to others.

Now - re. time away from baby and her bonding with others - it is NORMAL for a baby to have multiple carers while mum rests. Normal - for thousands and thousands of years of the way humans developed.

- I was reading a very good book recently about tribal cultures (Jared Diamond - The World Until Yesterday if you want to read while breastfeeding! just read the childcare chapter) - the average number of people who held or looked after a baby in one day was 14 - the complete myth in our culture of mum-baby special relationship is just that - a myth. It is only since the industrial revolution that women would be expected to spend all day alone with a baby - and only very very recently ie. last 50 years - that people would not have had sisters, mothers, friends to bounce baby about all day long while they cooked/ cleaned/ had some time to themselves away from the child.

do you have a nice midwife or HV you can speak to?

I think you have to be careful not to expect 'love' from your little one yet - no she doesn't 'need' you in a complex emotional way yet(ie. like an adult or older child would ) - she needs to be fed, cuddled and have love poured on her - but she can't build a relationship with emotional levels yet - so don't feel rejected !

I think from my experience it's common to look at the dad and think they are coping better - you must continue to enjoy your time away - its normal, it's healthy and it will make you a better mother as you say. Keep meeting up with your NCT, find an under-1's drop in - with breastfeeding support - and be open to the HV etc about your worries if you think you can trust them. The BF support groups are normally run by midwives so they could be a helpful source of support too.

waterrat Wed 02-Jan-13 08:25:27

also - you might find the book The Wonder Weeks helpful.

www.amazon.co.uk/The-Wonder-Weeks-Magical-Forward/dp/1579546455

I think if you read about just how little they understand of the world in the first few months you might feel better..! At 5 weeks everything is a sort of mess of light, shade and sensation....

teacher123 Wed 02-Jan-13 09:27:55

Oh god I remember feeling like this when DS was the same age. He was a big baby and was ebf, and we had big problems getting feeding established. He was constantly starving really until we started weaning at around 5.5 months. Whenever I held him for a cuddle, he cried and started rooting for milk, whenever DH held him he would snuggle in and gaze at him adoringly. I used to sob thinking that he didn't love me and that he preferred DH. It was just that the scent of milk used to drive him bananas, and it took a long time before he would allow himself to be cuddled by me without wanting a feed. At 8mo, he is a really snugly, cuddly baby with both of us, who is coming on leaps and bounds and has a great sense of humour. Please don't be so hard on yourself. X

3smellysocks Wed 02-Jan-13 15:43:19

I worried about the same things at the same stage. I was so aware of his eye contact being on everything and DH but not me. What I would suggest is that you start to play silly games and also blow raspberries on her tummy. She sees you all the time and has just started to notice that there is a lot more going on around her.

It's really great you have had such good support from DH these last few weeks. Soon you will have to do all the day time jigging/soothing/feeding etc and it will make you closer.

Please don't try to stimulate her while she BF's. Just enjoy the closeness and it's multi task if you need to.

Having children really made me reflect on my own upbringing. I would think about things deeply and decide how I wanted to bring up my own children - which was very different to how my mum did things. Remember you are not your mum.

jewelsandbinoculars Wed 02-Jan-13 23:18:45

Just a quickie to say thank you all so much for taking the time to reply and for being so supportive. Both DP and I have read all your replies and have found them really helpful.

DD and I have spent today hanging out and I feel much better (less bonkers!) all round. Fingers crossed that continues...

Thanks again!

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