How to bond with a baby who doesn't feel like mine?

(15 Posts)
ScumBag Fri 26-Apr-13 08:54:13

Hi,

I have four month old b/g twins and I only seem to have bonded with one of them. The lack of maternal feeling towards twin 2 (the boy twin) is really worrying me & I am not sure how to change things now.

They were born by emergency section, under GA and in quite stressful circumstances. When I woke up, DTD was with me but DTS wasn't there as he had been taken straight to NICU. They were only a month early but he was struggling. I was given a photo of him when I woke up & I eventually saw him 18 hrs after he was born.

I couldn't hold him & I couldn't see what he looked like because he had a CPAP machine over his face, an eye mask, a hat, and wires everywhere. I spent the next week in hospital and obviously DTD was with me, sleeping in my bed and I was feeding her in between expressing to send to neonatal. It was a week before I held my son & I felt horribly guilty that I didn't spend more time sitting beside his incubator.

To cut a long story short, we were allowed home after 8 days as DTS picked up very suddenly. He had one night on the ward with us before we were discharged and then we were back at home. We have two other DC at home so it was very busy and I never had any one to one time with DTS.

He looks nothing like my other children & there is no resemblance to me or to my DH. In the early days, I genuinely believed that he might not be mine and that there had been some kind of mix up at the hospital. DH had reassured me that this is impossible!

I have now accepted that he is mine but unfortunately I just don't feel it sad. He doesn't smell like one of my babies (the other three have had a distinctive milky smell that I love grin ) and he doesn't look like one.

He is a lovely looking baby & I feel quite fond of him, but in the way that I would feel fond of a friends baby. When DTD smiles at me, my heart melts and I feel that fiercely protective feeling that I have had for the others. When he tries to catch my eye, he smiles and cooes at me and I just feel horribly guilty.

When she cries, I can't bear the sound of it & I have to pick her up straight away. When he cries, it just sounds like background noise. I do make sure I look after him properly & I force myself to interact with him when he is away and I pick him up and cuddle him. Sometimes though, I'll be having a nice cuddle with his sister & then I will hear him wake up... I can't help getting a sinking feeling because I have to interrupt my time with her to see to him.

If this carries on, will I secretly feel like this for his whole life? Surely he will pick up on the fact that I see him differently to the others, however much I try to cover it up.

My DH doesn't seem to understand how upset I am about this and keeps telling me that the bonding will come.

Does anyone have any tips on things I can do to make this baby actually feel like mine?!

I don't dislike him at all, I can see that he is a lovely baby. I just want to feel something more for him.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Fri 26-Apr-13 09:02:16

Hmm, first of all I'd say stop being so harsh on yourself. You've been through to the mill. Twins, a difficult birth, two other children. I doubt very much that you're a scumbag.

I suspect it's quite normal to feel differently about twins and I think you're probably quite brave to admit it. It probably will just take time and you'll appreciate him for being him.

oinkment Fri 26-Apr-13 09:03:24

Oh you poor thing.

I have no experience or expertise here, but I'd be inclined to put everything on hold and do masses of skin to skin, have baths with him, feed him in the nud, spend as much time as you can with him, co-sleep. Have a little baby-moon with BOTH your beautiful babies.

ghosteditor Fri 26-Apr-13 09:04:20

Really sorry to hear you're going through this - it's understandable given your experience of the birth, and following days.

I've read about this before and always heard that over time things even out. Try to find some one on one time with your boy - could you invest in a sling and carry him around (skin to skin maybe?)

I'm sure someone will come along with wiser words, but didn't want to read and run.

waterrat Fri 26-Apr-13 09:05:24

I think that feeling disassociated from a baby is not at all unusual - they are very young still, not giving much back, you have been through a huge amount and it is well known that mothers of twins are more likely to suffer from depression/ PND etc and I would think of this as similar/related.

Even if it was your only child it would be within the bounds of what is normal, given the birth experience, to feel this way - but when you have three other children to cope with - it's not remotely surprising!

Perhaps think of it this way - no child 'belongs' to their parent - they are a little being put on this world 'through' you - and you need time to learn to love them and know them as a person as you would anyone else. I don't think I felt 'love' or connection with my child until he was a few months old - worry/ desire to protect yes, but it was as he became more human that real love came. I don't like newborns to be honest! I did like my own, but I much, much prefer him as an older child - newborns are like little frogs, no personality!

I think the best thing you can do is talk to people - and try to get someone to give you help so you can spend some time alone with the baby you are struggling to bond with - but really don't give yourself a hard time.

he doesn't have a personality yet so why should you feel a connection? It's all too much for you! rest, take your time to get to know him - and see if you can find online some people to talk to who have twins/ etc might hel you out.

PeterParkerSays Fri 26-Apr-13 09:06:06

Oh honey, it must have been so hard to write your post. Could you look at getting more skin to skin contact with him now, tucking him onto your chest and wrapping your dressing gown around both of you, carrying him around in a sling? You mention having cuddles with his sister when he's asleep, can you try and engineer more cuddles with him when she's asleep / with daddy?

It sounds soft, but could you wrap a muslin / blanket around his sister for a while and then wrap him up in it, so some of the milky smeel will transfer to him, if only in the blanket iyswim?

mummy2benji Fri 26-Apr-13 09:16:08

Bonding is very psychological and doesn't always come instinctively, and the fact that your birth experience was stressful and your DTS was away from you at first will have had a big impact. Firstly, you need to recognise that immediately after the birth your hormones will have been all over the place, you were uncomfortable, and you had another baby to attend to, so don't beat yourself up for not spending more time by his incubator. If you allow yourself to feel guilty for that then when you look at him you'll associate him with feeling guilty yourself and negative emotions. There is no way he can have been mixed up so I'm glad that you say you've got over that fear now. Being different to your other dc's is in no way bad. It is nice to look at your children and see the differences and know that they are all individuals and not the same. You do have to work at bonding - even if you are fearful or reluctant to, the best thing to do is make time to cuddle him. You say you have nice cuddles with your DTD - well, DTS deserves that same special Mummy time, and the more you make the effort to do that and to treat him the same, the more you'll start to feeling bonding taking place. I would talk to your health visitor too and ask her advice and just get a bit of support. She isn't going to charge in and call social services because you haven't properly bonded with your baby! She'll be able to reassure you that this isn't completely unusual, and that with some time and effort on your part it will come.

oinkment Fri 26-Apr-13 09:18:46

I've thought some more about this and I think the key here is that you are comparing your feelings for dtd and dts. stop comparing.

I fell head over heels in love with dd1 immediately. I had a much more slow burning fondness that became love for ds. And that was without all the extra issues you have had to cope with. It's normal and it's okay. If they weren't twins you wouldn't have the side by side comparison.

Portofino Fri 26-Apr-13 09:24:27

I felt very much like this with dd, who was also born by emcs under GA. It was like I woke up one morning and there was a baby there. I just went through the motions for months. I felt protective but there was no rush of love. But it came though, eventually. She is the light of my life. Give it some time, and as advised above, try to get a little more 1-2-1 time with him. Don't beat yourself up about it.

Your post really resonated with me. I didn't feel like my DD was mine, and I looked after her during her early weeks from a sense of duty rather than love. I tore myself up analysing my feelings constantly.

Turns out I was very traumatised and depressed. Although the birth went well, I tore badly and barely held her after she was born (I was either being examined by doctors, waiting to go to theatre, or in theatre). I remember lying in theatre thinking "I've just has a baby but I don't feel like I have".

I also wondered whether she'd been swapped with another baby, since we'd been separated for a couple of hours. Never mind the fact DH had been with her the entire time!

Of course, she's 19m now and the centre of my world. But please don't underestimate the impact of trauma and separation in the early days. Do you think you could be depressed? Perhaps you should talk to someone impartial (GP / HV?) to explore this further.

Things WILL change, I promise.

I think you might some help making sense of the birth and subsequent events.

Also what about posting in the multiples board too?

GirlWiththeLionHeart Fri 26-Apr-13 09:46:04

Ah you poor thing, you've been through a lot and the birth has obviously affected you. Have you spoken to your Gp or hv about your feelings?

Definitely make more effort to fuss over ds, maybe get your h to watch dd while you and ds go for a walk with sling?

I'm sure the bond will come soon x

MiaowTheCat Fri 26-Apr-13 18:41:30

Have you tried contacting Bliss? I know people tend to think of them in terms of the teeny tiny really prem preemies - but it's ALL NICU babies and families they're there for.

They really saved my sanity when I had to go through the whole NICU thing - even not with a very "serious" NICU case (although if they're needing to go there it obviously IS serious but you know what I mean) - I had the whole thing you mentioned about wondering if they'd done a baby swap... she's the double of me but still I wondered and it took us a long time to bond. There was LOTS I had to deal with in terms of the delivery and I just felt like I was falling apart totally... in the end Bliss sorted us out with a course of telephone counselling which started me off in stopping blaming myself and getting partially rid of the fears that had stopped us bonding closely.

I didn't feel like DD was mine until she was about 4 months old. I had an easy birth, but in the last 6 weeks or so before she was born I'd had 2 extra scans and had to go to hospital to be monitored due to concerns about her size. She was fine (7lbs 3oz, normal but small compared to 9lb 1oz DS1), but by that point I'd convinced myself that I wasn't going to get a live baby at the end of the pregnancy.

I remember when she was born being distinctly underwhelmed by it all-just 'oh, yes, a baby', none of the instant love I'd had the first time around. I resented being in hospital as I was away from DS1, and I resented the attention she got later on-if we were in a shop and someone commented on her I'd feel like saying 'Never mind her, what about my big baby?' (DS1 was 22 months when she was born). I feel awful about it now, but I really didn't like her very much.

It all changed when we went to Glastonbury when she was 4 months old. She was in the sling almost constantly (it was too muddy to put her down), and it almost felt like I was reliving the last few days of my pregnancy again. I don't know if it was just the sling, or the change of scenery and routine, but after that weekend she was my baby, and I loved her as much as I did DS1.

She's 2.2 years now, and she's amazing! Funny, cheeky, clever and very definitely my girl. I don't feel anything negative towards her (except when she tries to play with 12 week old DS2 by sitting on his head). Anyway, all that waffling was a long way of saying that what you're feeling is normal, and it does get better.
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ladythatlunches Fri 26-Apr-13 20:07:48

Hi, I have twins and I can reassure you that it is a constant guilt fest at the best of time.

One of mine would only settle with me when she was born so I had her all the time and felt so close to her. My other little one was more content and happily sit with anyone so our bond grew strong.

Once I saw what was happening I made sure that I picked dt2 first and always made more effort in that way. Now bond with both is same.

It's so so hard I also have 3 other dc.

Just be nice to your self at this hard time

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