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to expect people to understand why I haven't bonded

(125 Posts)
ExpectTheVeryUnexpected Sun 24-Aug-14 21:53:38

Had my first child Aug 1st. Up until around 3 days before giving birth I didn't even know I was pregnant. (don't bother with comments on this. It's a long story but trust me - I was not ignoring the possibility, I was not ignoring signs. They were there but all had other explanations and several negative tests were done and Dr even assured me it was something else and medicated for it).....I then had very little time to wrap my head around everything and had what I would call a traumatic birth (considering the circumstances)... and my dp had always agreed on not having children for at least another 10years best case scenario but neither of us had our hearts set at the moment on even doing it at that time. I have recently opened my own business and we just bought a dog - so safe to say all things considered this is a massive shock for us!!!! I'm finding it hard still to understand and will sit and stare at my daughter for hours alternating between being flabbergasted that she is mine and guilty because I smoked/drank heavily, wasn't taking vitamins etc. And feel like her low birth weight (5lb 11oz) is the result of my actions. I've never been around babies, nor has my partner. I've never fed a baby, changed a baby etc. I've only even held one a few times in the past and suddenly I'm being shown how to care for a little girl of my own and expected to know what to do with her?! I'm formula feeding because I couldn't get the latch right and lost patience with the woman trying to help me learn.......everyone who has been to see us, including our parents, are constantly commenting on how awkward we seem with her and telling us were doing these wrong when we are following advice we were given and I am sick of people telling me how magical a mothers bond is and how maternal I should be feeling and how it's strange that I seem so detached and unsure. Am I being unreasonable to expect people to understand that we have no effing clue what to do, we werent expecting this and that we need support and helping hands not judgements and catty comments?!??!?! If one more person gives me a funny look for admitting she doesn't have a name yet I am going to scream.

ExpectTheVeryUnexpected Sun 24-Aug-14 21:55:21

Sorry for the long post! Needed to get that off my chest.

ladybirdandsnails Sun 24-Aug-14 21:59:09

Not sure what I can say to help but I really feel for you

travailtotravel Sun 24-Aug-14 21:59:10

Yanbu, this must be very stressful for you. Is anyone actually helping you at all?

StatisticallyChallenged Sun 24-Aug-14 21:59:27

They sound like unsympathetic idiots. Most people have had 8 or so months to adjust to the idea of becoming a parent, imagine what it will be like and generally get their head around it. You've had 3 chuffing days, of course you are going to be a bit awkward, detached and unsure.

FlipFlippingFlippers Sun 24-Aug-14 21:59:45

thanks I'm not sure what to say but all this sounds so tough. I struggled to bond with my first but we got there in the end. Hopefully someone else better with advice will come along soon. I think you need someone to talk to in real life for support.

wheresthelight Sun 24-Aug-14 22:00:17

I feel your pain! I found out when I was 10 weeks pregnant but after 17 years of being told I was infertile. it still feels like a dream I am going to wake up from.

absolutely everything you are feeling is perfectly natural even after you have known for months that you were pregnant never mind only knowing for a few hours. stop being so hard on yourself and ignore everyone who is telling you that you are doing things wrong. do what you feel is right and you won't go far wrong.

speak to your health visitor and be honest amd open with her as she is the absolute best person to help you with this. it could be a mild case of post natal depression but it also just the normal feeling overwhelmed "oh shit i have a person I have to keep alive"

if you need to speak to anyone then feel free to pm me

Stealthpolarbear Sun 24-Aug-14 22:01:46

Congratulations on your little girl
Yanbu to expect more understanding and help
I think her weight while low as still in the normal range, she shouldn't have been classed as low
Can you ask for help and support

ChampagneTastes Sun 24-Aug-14 22:03:27

This sounds deeply traumatic. How are you feeling? How do you feel about being a mother? Are you getting any helpful support? Sending you hugs. It's ok to feel overwhelmed. Talk here if it helps.

PhilandLil Sun 24-Aug-14 22:03:52

You poor soul, what a shock.

Listen, no one knows what to do with their first baby, no one.

You'll get there, don't worry about what is past, you can't change it.

Deal with now. It's very hard (even in the best circumstances) but it gets easier. You'll find your way.

cansu Sun 24-Aug-14 22:03:56

Bloody hell. I think you are doing great! Even with the months of preparation I had with my first ds I was bloody hopeless and she'll shocked so I can't imagine how hard it is to have so little time to prepare both practically and emotionally. all you can do is take it one step at a time. It will get easier. I found it a massive learning curve and I also had v little experience with babies. I would try and limit visitors to those who will be helpful and relaxed. Try to be reassured that many people have little experience and do fine. Try not to force the whole bonding thing or over analyse. I was desperately worried about doing it all right and didn't really think about how I felt. I did nevertheless bond with both my children! Take care of yourself.

furcoatbigknickers Sun 24-Aug-14 22:07:28

Congratulations. I think people should try and be alot more understanding. Give it time and keep dd close... It will come.

sarararararah Sun 24-Aug-14 22:10:07

My sister had a concealed pregnancy almost 13 years ago, when she was 20. It was complicated by the fact she was in Peru and had to wait almost a month after my DN was born until she could travel. She is an amazing mother and I am so proud of her but boy was it hard initially. Our DM was a wonderful support to her, pretty skilfully knowing when to step in and when to back off and supporting her til she had the skills to parent on her own. Unlike you she was not with the baby's father (a ONS) but she had a new boyfriend who decided to bring DN up as his. My sister lived with my parents until DN was 3. You have had such a shock. It is no wonder that you feel as you do. Now that I am a mother myself I have no idea how my sister coped with DN's arrival. Sending you my thoughts and hoping you can come to terms with this soon. It may be very tough.

sarararararah Sun 24-Aug-14 22:10:34

It MUST be very tough, not may. Sorry.

DoJo Sun 24-Aug-14 22:11:07

I cannot believe that there are people so emotionally unaware that they cannot imagine what a monumental shock this has been for you and appreciate how hard it is to be thrown into a massive life-changing situation with no preparation. I know plenty of first time parents who have felt like you do even with nine months to prepare, so please don't feel as though every one has such high expectations of new parents.
It must be a nightmare finding time to process the sheer astonishment you're feeling whilst having a newborn to care for and do all the 'preparatory' stuff that most people eke out over their pregnancies. The shopping alone is enough to send you round the bend when you don't really know what you'll need, and the physical and emotional hugeness of being responsible for another life is just incomprehensible, even when you are prepared for it.
Have you been offered any additional support from health visitors (I know - not always popular on MN, but can be a real help with practical stuff) or community midwifery team or similar?
Hopefully you will become a MN regular and be able to draw on the wisdom of those who might have experienced something similar and get some support from people who have a bit more tact. Good luck and congratulations.

MrsSpencerReid Sun 24-Aug-14 22:11:57

It took me months to bond with ds1 and he was a much wanted baby, we had a slightly traumatic delivery but I didn't feel that rush of love etc that people talk about, he just sort of grew on me, didn't have it with ds2 either bit it came a bit quicker, he was much less trouble all round tho! Try not to worry too much, I've heard of lots of mums who took a while to bond and none that never bonded

bonzo77 Sun 24-Aug-14 22:12:00


FWIW DS1 was 5lb11 too. At full term. I'd done everything right: stopped smoking, hardly drank, exercised, vitamins blah blah blah. Don't blame yourself. Oh, and the formula thing is fine. It really is. Actually most women don't produce much milk before day 3, so with the right support you could still BF if you wanted. But frankly that'd be low on my list of priorities.

Jesus. What a shock you've had. It's a shock even if you've expected it. Look out for yourself. You might be higher risk than some for PND or PTSD.

WooWooOwl Sun 24-Aug-14 22:14:14

With your circumstances, I am surprised other people aren't expecting this to be a massive head fuck for you.

Reading your post makes me think about how much we must naturally prepare ourselves while pregnant without even consciously thinking it. It must be incredibly hard to deal with a new baby when you have had that time taken away from you.

TalcumPowder Sun 24-Aug-14 22:17:26

Sympathies, OP. What a shock. Speaking as someone who planned her only pregnancy, and had a straightforward pregnancy and birth, I can tell you that I didn't bond for ages, had no idea what I was doing, and spent our son's first couple of months wishing I was dead and googling fostering agencies. I understand some people do feel instant love, but not me. Don't fixate on the magical bond you think you are supposed to have but are missing out on - it's a myth in many cases, not just in traumatic, unexpected situations like yours. I could not love my son (now two) more now, but it took time. Don't worry about the 'bond'. It will come gradually by itself. Focus on being kind to yourself and on getting as much support as is humanly possible. You will become the expert on your baby, but not in three days.

People commenting on how awkward or unnatural you look are being insensitive fools - of course you look awkward! You had no clue this was about to happen, and probably feel as if you've been invaded by a small alien. And I can imagine a name is the last thing on your mind. For what it's worth, I can think of two very much planned babies I know who were hurriedly named at the last minute on the way to register them, six or eight weeks after birth - having been picking names since you were ten is no indicator of your worth as a parent.

Make clear - to your HV, GP, postnatal midwife - your need for as much help as can be provided. You might also be someone who benefits from PIPS (I think its the Parents and Infant Psychology Services?) which offers counselling for bonding difficulties and the aftermath of traumatic births. Good luck.

Eggybread00 Sun 24-Aug-14 22:17:30

Bless your heart, I don't know what advice to give but I will say let go of any guilt you have about drinking or smoking right now. You did not know. She has arrived safely and she will thrive on formula .

Tomorrow is a new day, you are her mum and you will find your way through this! Take every bit of help offered and ask for it too. It's bloody hard work, it gets better!

Stick around here, we will always listen and hopefully support you through this difficult time.

Devora Sun 24-Aug-14 22:18:07

Huge sympathy from me too. Even in normal circumstances bonding doesn't necessarily come quickly - took me months to bond with my two. And I'm sure you're still reeling with shock. Do you think you might be depressed? Are you getting sufficient support?

TeaAndALemonTart Sun 24-Aug-14 22:18:32

It sounds like you've been through quite a trauma.

Have you got any ideas for her name yet? Can we at least he'll a bit with that?

TalcumPowder Sun 24-Aug-14 22:18:48

PS, I was 5 lbs 10 I think - full term, with a teetotal, non-smoker mother.

Goldmandra Sun 24-Aug-14 22:22:57

You're not alone in wishing people would stop criticising you. When I had DD1 I had already cared for lots of babies competently and confidently but suddenly I had people all around me telling me I was getting it wrong with my own DD. I apparently fed her for too long, didn't have a good enough bedtime routine, didn't stand and rock her enough, didn't let her cry enough, bathed her at the wrong time, even bathed myself at the wrong time of day. I felt like I could get nothing right. I can't imagine how I would have coped with all that if I had been chicked in the deep end like you have!

Everybody needs to back off with their opinions and start supporting you. Do you have any part of the daily routine that you enjoy with your LO? If so, make that bit exclusively yours right now.

Try to move on from the guilt. You didn't know. You had negative tests so it's not as if you could have found out easily. Mulling over 'what if' this or that had happened won't help either of you, especially as you don't know if they had a negative effect on her, so save your energy for the things that will.

It took us forever to come up with names both times and we never settle on a boys name at all so it's lucky we had two girls. Take you time and get it right. The funny looks are their problem, not yours. Ignore them. Everyone has an opinion on things like that but none matter apart from yours as parents.

Getting through these early days is firefighting. You cope as best you can even without added complications. Reduce your expectations of yourselves. Just deal with what you need to and let the rest, including the opinions of others go hang. Give yourself time and space to get to know your new little family member and get your head round your new future.

Optimist1 Sun 24-Aug-14 22:23:33

I feel for you. A friend of mine discovered she was pregnant at eight and a half months and her circumstances sounded similar to yours. As a result of the treatments and diagnostic tests she'd had - including x-rays - over the previous months, she was admitted to hospital immediately and stayed there until her son was born.

Her story differs from yours inasmuch as a) she already had a DS, so was au fait with how it is to have a newborn and b) she was not in a relationship with the father of either child. So, in my view she was better off than you in terms of a) above, but you have the advantage in terms of b).

I'm sure that every first-time parent will admit to feeling taken aback at the massive responsibility that comes with a baby. And we all have times when we haven't a clue what we're supposed to be doing, honestly. Most of us had the luxury of time to read the baby manuals so we have a general idea of what's going on; you haven't had that.

As time goes on you'll get more confident of your role as parents. You'll see that your daughter is growing and developing and you'll start to recognise whether she's crying because she's hungry or tired. You'll think of a lovely name, and before long she'll be giving you winning smiles.

Of course it's not unreasonable for you still to be getting your heads around this. What is unreasonable is for your family to be less than helpful - they obviously need it spelling out to them.

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