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New baby but not feeling like a mum

(33 Posts)
mrsgiggles1982 Tue 24-Jun-14 13:47:54

I'm feeling really down and need to get it off my chest and see if anyone else felt this way?

We brought a baby home a few weeks ago. We love him so so much but I dont feel like his "mum". I feel like a fraud. I look at him and want to protect him but I also feel like there is a distance between us. That I am faking it so that he doesnt pick up on this.

Today I really struggled. It was hard getting him to sleep for his nap (even though he was tired) and I ended up crying outside his room afterwards feeling guilty. I feel as if because we had wanted this so long, I should be grateful for every moment when in reality there are times I cant wait for his nap time just to have a break. He is a very clingy baby, understandably from what he has been through, and I want to give him all the love, cuddles and reassurance I can but if it was his way he would be attached to me 24 hours which feels so overwhelming. Again making me feel guilty.

I feel like I am supposed to have overwhelming motherly love for him, know his every need and be grateful we got here which when I think straight I know is completely unachievable but when I'm down it gets to me.

I asked our social worker if there were any support groups with other adoptive parents but its dismissed as something not that important. I have been put in touch with one lovely adoptive parent but I dont want to rely on her. I'd really like a group to go to with others mothers in the same position. I joined a baby group today which Im sure will be nice and supportive but its not the same as talking to people who have been there and might understand these feelings with me. I feel so alone

Am I the only one who felt this way after placement? Please tell me it got better for you? When did you start to feel like a "mother"?

Jinty64 Tue 24-Jun-14 14:21:32

I have not adopted but could have written your post exactly when I came home with ds1. I was ever so pleased to have him, I knew I loved him but it was as if someone had dropped him round for me to look after. I took care of his every need and fortunately he was not a difficult baby but he didn't feel like mine. He grew on me! I didn't realise this was strange until I had ds2 with whom I felt an immediate bond.

Hopefully as time goes on you will feel more of a bond with him. How old is he? It's relentless with a baby sometimes.

captainproton Tue 24-Jun-14 14:24:26

Jinty I was going to say the same thing as you! Babies are hard work and it can take ages to bond.

Tambajam Tue 24-Jun-14 14:37:35

Sorry to come in on this without adoption experience but this line:

"I should be grateful for every moment when in reality there are times I cant wait for his nap time just to have a break."

Could have been written by EVERY new mother I have ever known. It is HARD. It is relentless.

You feel a desire to protect him. That's a start. Let's call it love. Do you feel an overwhelming rush of something every time you look at other people you love in your life? I certainly don't. How are we going to define maternal love anyway?

Each day we care for them. We put their needs often above our own. We do our best. And then there's another day and another.

All mums feel that they are failing in some way. And I'd worry more about the ones who felt they never were.

Continue looking to make connections with others. It might even be with non-adoptive mums. We will often get how you are feeling.

fasparent Tue 24-Jun-14 14:39:46

Not unusual with new baby, Adopted DD is same with her new born , struggling at time with tiredness, last two nights and during the day time has left things too us for a time, she too looks too a break, think you find mother and baby group quite good , we take our other two baby's and are made most welcome also too baby massage and play
are age 7 months and 2 months must say they enjoy it too , do not be too harsh with your self feeling's are a natural process of things, look forward and have some fun in the process, take out for a walk rather than put down for a nap, will nod off , you will soon find out by trial or error what suits your baby best as will all mum's., you will find all this out at baby group too.
Wish you all the best.X

deepbluetr Tue 24-Jun-14 14:51:16

I felt the same way with my babies that I gave birth to- so I wouldn't worry.

When I was heavily pregnnat with my first baby, my sister told me not to worry if I didn't feel that rush of love that is talked about. She said it took fully 6 months to fall in love with her babies.

I am glad she warned me, because I felt exactly the same. I didn't feel that crashing feeling.
I cared for them, cuddled them, nurtured them, but it took time, slowly, slowly, day by day until at about 6 months I was totally in love with them, hook, line and sinker.

Funnily I am like this with my men too- I am not one for love at first sight. My love is slow to stir and takes time to develop.
It's just the way I am.

When love does eventually come it is just as intense as anyone's, but it is never an instant thing for me.

Kewcumber Tue 24-Jun-14 15:55:36

Oh honey. It took me at least 3 months to feel like not the babysitter, another 3 months to feel like "pseudo" mother and somewhere between 6-12 months I fell in love. Of course it wan't that straightforward and it did get a small bit better every day.

I used to get really upset when I thought for some reason he wasn't going to nap because the 2 hours he napped was the only respite I got from the overwhelming responsibility. I hardly told anyone and put a pretty brave face on it because as you say you feel like to have to be grateful after the struggle to get them.

The problem with adoption is that there is a massive back story to deal - both yours and theirs, there aren't any hormones making you fall in love, and you are going through a similar stage with an older baby that most people go through with newborns so people are far less aware of you struggling as they've got it all sorted by then.

Added to which its estimated that post adoption depression is actually more common than PND - I've seen estimates of 85% somewhere. So keep an eye out for that and go see your GP if you can;t stop crying!

I felt responsible for DS way before I loved him - in fact I can remember one point thinking I would never be happy again because when I was with him I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility and wondered if I would ever really love him but when I got an hour spare and my mum looked after him I wandered around like a lost sheep that had one leg cut off. Not happy with him, not happy without him.

Does it help that he's now 8.5 (pictures on profile) and I love the very bones of him?

BertieBotts Tue 24-Jun-14 15:59:47

I felt the same way with my DS who I gave birth to. I think it is very common and not really talked about. It must be more common with adoption too as you have not had the 9 month pregnancy to bond. I do think it's really normal though and don't feel a fraud if you didn't get the "rush of love" that everyone seems to talk about!

It will come smile Motherhood is a big culture shock and although it can seem hypocritical to want moments of your old life back or to catch your breath and breathe when you wanted this so much, it's okay and perfectly normal and natural to feel like that.

Kewcumber Tue 24-Jun-14 16:03:13

Not only don;t you have a 9 month pregnancy Bertie, you have "given" birth to an older baby who is usually rather more mobile than a new born, and heavier and not used to you.

But yes I did discover that not everyone with birth babies bonds with them instantly either.

Kewcumber Tue 24-Jun-14 16:03:44

There are several adoption threads on binding - I'll see if I can dig them out for you OP.

idontlikealdi Tue 24-Jun-14 16:06:39

This just popped up in active and I have no experience of adopting but just wanted to echo what some others have said.

I felt like that for about 6months.

I wonder if perhaps as an adoptive mother you are putting even more pressure on yourself than a birth mum would?

Kewcumber Tue 24-Jun-14 16:11:25

Ha ha! In looking for bonding threads I found this quote by me...

You just need to be open to idea that it will work out and it creeps up and coshes you on the back of the head when you're not expecting it!

YouMakeMeHappy Tue 24-Jun-14 16:13:57

OP, I felt the same with my first. It was a long labour ending in a section under general anaesthetic and although I felt protective and hugely guilty for some reason I didn't feel love, or any attraction... Didn't find him endearing at all.

Like jinty I didn't realise it was unusual until I had number 2, who I instantly adored and didn't want to be away from for a minute. If I'm honest I still feel differently towards them.

It must be a very strange feeling adopting. I bet he will grow on you though.

MyFeetAreCold Tue 24-Jun-14 16:24:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YouMakeMeHappy Tue 24-Jun-14 16:28:23

Kewcumber, your little boy is beautiful! Where is he from?

beccajoh Tue 24-Jun-14 16:35:40

I hope you don't mind me gate crashing. I felt like that after my first was born and I gave birth to her. I don't know anything about adoption, but what you're describing is pretty normal among new mums, even they're the biological mum. I never felt any whoooosh of love for either of mine. Protective yes, but the love bit came on very gradually.

AngelsWithSilverWings Tue 24-Jun-14 16:38:29

I felt exactly the same. I remember looking at DS one morning as my husband was leaving for work at 7am ( after his two weeks adoption leave) and thinking why do I feel so miserable when I finally have the baby I've been waiting 10 years for?

He wasn't a great sleeper and was a very exhausting, already walking and climbing,10 month old little monster! I was really struggling to keep him entertained while keeping up with the household stuff.

I knew I loved him but I felt guilty for feeling disappointed that motherhood wasn't the amazing romantic thing I'd hoped it would be.

Taking him to activities helped me feel more like a mum and helped me to bond with him. I signed him up for a ducklings swim class first and gradually added on tumble tots and Jo Jingles etc. I found these sorts of groups easier than turning up at a mother and toddler group ( where I would occasionally go only to feel like a spare part)

Meeting other mums with babies of a similar age at these activities really helped me. Having these activities scheduled gave me structure to my day and wore DS out enough to make sure he had a good afternoon nap which meant I could catch up on sleep.

It does get better. It took even longer for me to bond with DD as having DS to take care of at the same time was even more exhausting and I got really quite down.

I hope you start to feel better soon and congratulations on your new baby! thanks

Polkadotpatty Tue 24-Jun-14 19:31:22

My LO has been placed recently too, and I recognise those feelings well. By the time we get to bedtime I am so desperate for her to sleep that I am doubtless conveying my stress to her, and so she's a nightmare to get settled. It's taking all the energy I have to stay "pretend calm" during the bedtimes and nights.

I was so desperate today that we skipped nap time (she was very perky, and didn't always have one in foster family as she's of an age where it's not absolutely necessary), so of course by bedtime she was over-tired and wouldn't settle for that reason instead! She is exhausting but delightful almost all day, and then I guess at night perhaps she feels her worries and sadness more, and she lets out all those feelings, which are hard to comfort, and she wakes up so often I could weep too.

If your SW can't recommend any groups, does your post-adoption support service offer a Buddy Scheme? Feel free to PM me in case we're in the same part of the world.

"You are doing brilliantly. This is a massive overwhelming adjustment, and the claustrophobic feelings get easier." (That is the text I had from my Buddy Adopter, and although I find it hard to believe about myself, I'm sure it's true about you thanks).

steppemum Tue 24-Jun-14 21:52:50

Oh gosh, sounds just like a new born. (and even if he is a but older, he is new to you and a baby)

My dcs were wanted and adored and loved and I can remember sitting a crying in frustration because I didn't know why ds was crying, Then lovely mum (whose house I was at) took him and rocked him til he was calm, and then we could start again.

Find a new mums group. they will all have struggles and moments when they don't feel like a 'real mum'

congratulations on your lovely baby too!

Lilka Tue 24-Jun-14 23:04:55

OP, this is such a normal experience, but it's so hard <<hugs>>

With all of my kids, love took a long while. At first, we were all strangers, and it felt so strange. I brought them into my home by my choice, but sometimes it felt like they were a hostile invading force in my personal space grin

It is very normal and expected for bonding and attachment to take time. Feeling protective is a great sign, and "fake it till you make it" is definitely the mantra to follow

DS was 23 months when he came home, and I class that as a baby. He was a bigger baby, but oh boy he wasn't just mobile, he was confused, had been thrown out of his environment, taken away from mummy and daddy (his FC's), had stranger lady and big scary strange girl (DD2!) instead. He was scared and withdrawn and he grieved. Oh he grieved. It was horrible. When you have a little one sobbing their heart out for parents that aren't coming back for them, it's gut wrenching.

Your LO is not just a bigger baby, your LO is also going through the confusion, anxiety and heightened stress (and once they get slightly older, real grief). YOU are going through the biggest upheaval you have ever gone through as well, and it puts a huge amount of physical and emotional stress on you.

Your feelings are very normal, and the good news is, time together is going to make it easier (but if you are crying all the time and it doesn't get better after a few weeks, go see your GP. As Kew says, depression is common after adoption).

Italiangreyhound Tue 24-Jun-14 23:19:12

mrsgiggles1982 so sorry you are having a hard time.

My little one was recently placed aged 3. I look forward, very much, to the time he is in bed! He is exhausting! I do love him but I know that is lucky, it does not always happen quickly.

Kew has written a lot on fake it until you make it.

I also think new babies are hard work. I also think older children are too. And teenagers! Let's face it everyone under about 21 takes some degree of work! You are perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. I was TOTALLY overwhelmed when ds was placed and I have been through the stages 1-3 (1-9 actually) as a birth mum.

Here are my top 5, best bit of advice and I am a very emotional person (lots of tears today because DD and DS won't stop arguing!!)

Here are my tops tips.

1) Find the joy where you can, this is what you wanted and it is wonderful BUT you don't need to feel grateful all the time. It is hard and can be stressful, find the bits you can enjoy and love and do them for the shear love and do the rest because you know your little one needs you.

I love this poem...

The poem ends...

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

2) Fake it until you make it, I am sure someone will tell you more about that!

3) My best bit of advice ever with my new baby (when I have a birth dd) was to sleep when they sleep!

If that is what you need, sleep, then sleep but if you need some peace or building up in that time, then find what works for you.

When little one sleeps, take yourself off to get some rest, that may be a sleep or a sit or lie on the sofa watching something good (I used to watch a lot of 'Beat the burglar' and 'Homes under the hammer' when dd was small!). It might be listening to music, sketching, reading, a few chocs and a nice cuppa or some healthy fresh fruit and a bit of exercise biking (static of course), whatever floats your boat! Maybe mix it up between active and restful, think of it as re-charging your batteries. In our pre and post adoption training they talked about it as keeping your cup full, because you cannot give out if you are running on empty.

3) Make sure you eat well, make your lunch early and eat it early so you definitely get to eat even if 'life' takes over. Some friends had their partner make them a sandwich before he went to work so it was sitting in the fridge ready to be grabbed when needed. If you are part of a couple that can help to make you feel like you have support and also you have... lunch. If you are a single adopter make your sandwich the night before and add an inspirational note "I know you can do!" Or some such, because I think you can!

4) Make sure you build a network of people you can talk to, other local mums (Toddler groups are not just for toddlers, you can go with a new baby, IMHO just get the OK from your social worker if you are really early into placement) or a few adoptive mums, ask your LA or VA if there is any kind of support group, adoption buddy scheme etc or try Adoption UK or BAAF. Maybe get someone professional on your side. If your social worker is not helpful you could also maybe have some contact with little one's social worker. I get to see both social workers regularly (ours and ds's), and we also have a special attachment and post adoption support team, who I have been referred to. If the VA or LA you are adopting with are not very helpful look at Adoption UK and BAAF for advice, I have not personally done that, as I have not had to do it! I was just very shocked by your comment I asked our social worker if there were any support groups with other adoptive parents but its dismissed as something not that important. That is awful, and crap.

5) Do not let others tell you how you should feel. Although in this case I think it is you.... I feel like I am supposed to have overwhelming motherly love for him... who is making yourself feel you should feel a certain way! We waited almost 9 years for our second child and now he is here I feel guilty for not always wanting to play with him. But he is demanding. I am picking what is vital to be/do, what is desirable and what is the extra mile. I always go the extra mile in love and hugs because I feel he needs that but he does not always get the games he wants or things his own way, because it is not always possible. So it is just weighing up what you can do.

mrsgiggles1982 feel free to pm me if you want to talk about any of this further, sorry to post so much.

Italiangreyhound Tue 24-Jun-14 23:20:38

PS mrsgiggles1982 you are not a fraud and you are his mum.

Lilka Tue 24-Jun-14 23:26:01

I wonder if perhaps as an adoptive mother you are putting even more pressure on yourself than a birth mum would?

My experience as an adoptive mum and supporting other adopters, is that this is very true. Adoptive parents do tend to put themselves under a lot more pressure.

For many this is the culmination of YEARS and years of yearning for a child, and dreaming of that day you will finally have your child. Of months and months, and maybe even years, of interviews, and paperwork, and questionning and preparation. It's incredibly emotional, a rollerocaster, and it's intense. But this is the moment - this is what you've been aiming for for all this time, this is IT, and oh boy do we have expectations, however uncoscious those expectations are. We want so desperately to feel love as soon as possible. We expect that because we've been trying SO hard and been through the tough (for very good reasons) adoption process, that our dreams coming true must mean our dream will be dreamlike - with love, and a desire to spend every moment with our child, and without us sobbing or feeling nothing. We don't want to, or can't, envisage having such a tough time post adoption, or envisage ourselves not quickly falling in love with the child we so desperately wanted to parent.

I didn't come to adoption through infertility, but after 2 years of adoption process, I also expected myself to love. I didn't expect bringing home a 10 year old to be dreamlike, but I expected myself to have these emotions that didn't come. I didn't expect to find myself resenting her presence at times.

It doesn't help at all that this 'love at first site' thing is such an ingrained idea, especially when it comes to adoption. Strangers, family, friends, all may have this lovely picture in their heads of the person/couple who was desperate to experience parenthood meeting the child who needed parent/s, and voila, they met and it was instant love, la di da. But adoptive parents can pick up on this expectation, however unsaid, which just makes it worse.

And there's another reason too, I certainly felt this. And that's that we expect ourselves to be perfect for our children's sake. From day 1 of the adoption process, the backgrounds of children in care are made clear to us. As is the fact that most children may sometimes (or all the time) need different parenting than a birth child. Basically, we quickly come to know how much our possible future children may have been through, will go through, and need from parents. Hence we place an expectation on ourselves of doing and being things that aren't humanly possible. I MUST love my new 10 year old daughter soon because she deserves it, needs it, how can I not when she's been through so much? I must be able to parent the way she needs, however stressful and difficult, straight away. Because it's not fair on her if I don't. I CAN'T resent her right this second, and want a break, because damn it, I'm the adult and she's the child whose been through so much and needs me to think the exact opposite of this. We can feel like we're failing our kid if we do the minutest thing wrong, beause we're so aware of what our kids might need every second, all the time. And it's definitely not the same as with a birth child, because we are trying to parent after knowing what our children have already been through, almost trying to make up for every bad thing that ever happened, by being perfect. All the weight of the preparation and impressions of what adopted children need from their parents is pressing down on you.

So many years down the line, I no longer think this way, but I went through these feelings and stress and sobbing to get here. I now know I can't expect to love, or be superhuman. And it's painful seeing new adoptive parents going through the same as I did often.

Sorry for essay in response to such a little question blush Be interested to see if the other adoptive parents agree with me

TheSarcasticFringehead Tue 24-Jun-14 23:35:15

My brother's parents (he is adopted) have looked after him from when he was 10mnths. As far as I understand, it was hard. There was so much guilt surrounding wanting a break...I know that their thinking was 'we thought we could do it...what if you will fail them (like other people have, perhaps?)....what if you won't ever attach...what if it isn't love? And so on. It is hard and tough and it's the same with all babies, but I think especially hard after adoption. It is a long slog and building up love takes a while on both sides, I think.

They have lost their 'parents'' (foster parents) and have been thrown into a whole new world, like a newborn straight after birth, I suppose. Everything they've ever known is different...different smells and different ways of comforting and different feeling in the cot. Different toys, maybe slightly different food- despite the information you'd get from the FCs, the way you cook or prepare the food will always be slightly different, even if it's just slightly bigger chunks. I think it's natural to be clingy, I'd want to hold onto someone and never let go if I was in a kind of whirlwind of changes. So it's not just you struggling, it's perfectly natural.

It's a good sign you are aorried. If you weren't stressed out and worried over it all, then you wouldn't be caring as much.

excitedmamma Tue 24-Jun-14 23:58:10

Mrsgiggles... I hope I am right in remembering that you sent me an amazing cushion to celebrate the adoption of my LO? a pink jigsaw one?

I haven't read the whole thread, but firstly, wanted to congratulate you on your son.

This isn't a marathon... concentrate on each day... each half hour.. each 5 minute spell...

My LO came at 6 months old... very poorly.. its hard.. very hard... I swear blind hormones kicked in... don't beat yourself up on how you are feeling... its normal and you are being honest... so many people won't understand.. being on top of the world can be quite lonely... being content yet frightened s***less is in good company... on these boards anyway...

Minute by Minute, hour by hour.. slowly but surely... this is a slow journey, find the enjoyment in the journey... there is no rush, no one is here to judge... just to share your panic & feelings...

Be gentle on yourself

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