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Worried my son hasn't bonded with me(29 Posts)
I already know how this will sound but I'm genuinely worried.
My twins are 13 months old. They were born by emergency section, taken away for six hours before I even got to see them. No skin to skin, no cuddles. One improved quickly and I held him the next morning. The other was very sick and I barely got to hold him in the first 3 weeks. After 2 weeks the bigger one came home but the smaller one stayed in for 8 weeks in total. I was there as much as I could be, but I was in a lot of pain, struggling with nasty infections, had one baby at home and one in the hospital and (although I didn't know it at the time) I was suffering from birth trauma and PND. I know now that the four or five hours a day I spent at the hospital with him really weren't enough but I really was doing my best. I have so much guilt about this and I'm not sure it will ever go away.
The bigger twin is pretty typical for 13 months. Over the past few months he's become quite clingy and will constantly pull at my leg for me to pick him up, wants cuddles etc.
Throughout the day it's just the three of us. I don't have any family nearby so I've never left them with anyone else apart from my DH and then only for the odd hour here or there if I have an appointment. Two months ago I started a very part time job, most of my work is either from home or I can take them with me but there have been a few meetings where I've had to leave them at home with DH for a few hours. Big twin is always really happy to see me and wants cuddles. Little twin isn't interested at all.
Today I had to attend an event which had a crèche so I took them with me and put them in the crèche. I popped in every hour or so. Little twin was having a whale of a time playing with all the new toys. I picked him up and he just wanted me to put him down, so obviously I did. He wouldn't even look at me. By the end of the session the bigger twin was getting fed up and just wanted my attention. Again, the smaller one didn't even notice I was back or had been gone. He doesn't like cuddles. Doesn't like kisses. Doesn't even like to be held, he just struggles to get out of my arms.
I really don't know if some kids are just like this, and my other twin is overly clingy for their age, or if there's a problem. I don't know if I'm projecting because I know we were apart so much when he was tiny, because I still picture him at night in his incubator crying and me not being there.
Is this normal or is there something wrong? I do struggle with anxiety so I may well be worrying about nothing, I know.
Sorry for the bump, but has anyone experienced anything like this? My brain is now running over and over lots of tiny little things and when I put them all together I'm really panicking. I think seeing a colleague's little boy today - three months younger than mine and beaming like the Cheshire Cat when his mum came back - has really made me worry. Is this normal? I don't know but I'm so scared that those early months have damaged him.
Sorry to hear you had such a tough time OP - you seem to have worked really hard to do the very best for each of your babies! I can't see how you could have done better.
Judging by my own, children are different - have different personalities and develop in their own order. Be patient and try not to worry too much but most of all don't blame yourself!
Some are like that. My daughter has always considered me just an adequate source of food and mild entertainment despite having skin to skin, cosleeping, babywearing etc. she’s just an independent small person and I have grown to love it. It’s actually much easier to deal with than my clingy one!
You've all had a hard time, and you are clearly worried about him and your relationship. Depending on where you are, you may be able to access a parent-infant psychotherapeutic service which helps with exactly this kind of worry. What's your general area?
Yes I have! My twins are now ten but when they were born, my daughter was in special care for six weeks and there were definitely bonding issues. We are very close now and I feel terrible guilt. You can message me direct if you’d like. I’m sorry that you’re going through this - having twins can be very tough. I also had pnd. You’ve done the right thing by opening up x
Thanks everyone. I know it's one of those things that people worry about and usually everyone says not to be silly, but I do worry so much about the effect of those first two months. They're my only kids so although it was a tough start, I don't know any different.
My new very part time job is within the maternity service so I'm pretty sure there aren't any services like that locally. I did speak to a midwife today who's doing some training in a technique for dealing with birth trauma, and I know she's looking for people to work with during her training. I'm considering volunteering myself, although that wouldn't help him which is my main worry at this point.
I will try to speak to my gp about it - just really aware that it sounds a bit hysterical and melodramatic.
My kids are all different despite none of them leaving my side since they were born (whilst they were babies) , breastfeeding, cosleeping etc. Non clinginess is also a sign of confidence and independence.
Don't worry any more about it. Your baby was in hospital because he needed to be and you did the best you could. He would have been well looked after and loved and felt the love from you all.
Sorry you had such a tough start with your babies. Honestly, you haven’t done anything “wrong” your sons are just different from each other. When they’re chatty 5 year olds, you won’t even think that you haven’t bonded with him. Please try not to worry, they’re just different.
I know on mumsnet this is barged about quite a lot. But as a Mum to a ten year old autistic son, who since he was diagnosed has undertaken a lot of research on autism, I gently suggest that your ds may be on the autism spectrum.
Lack of eye contact, dislike of being held, disliking cuddles and kisses are all markers for children on the spectrum. Most autistic children are not diagnosed until they are in mainstream education, so if your ds is , you have the gift of time on your hands, to research and go on courses that will positively impact your ds.
My ds at 10 is a clever, articulate and lovely little boy with a great sense of humour. He struggles socially but has come so far, and we are so proud of him! I hope that this post hasn't upset you, its an emotive subject and certainly very difficult to consider in regard to your own precious baby!
It could just be his personality, my DS1 was the least clingy toddler ever at that age, didn’t fuss at going to grannies/crèche. Now he is 4 and is very cuddly and clingy.
I never wanted to be held as a child and wasn't clingy. I was just very independent, the only time I really let my Mom hold me was when I was sick. My brother was the opposite. And I don't have ASD or anything. I did have bad asthma as a child and was in the hospital a lot. But I think it could just be his personality. I also wasn't fearful of much, while my brother was. I hope this helps a bit.
As a mother of DS aged 4 who has autism a lot of what you are describing matches where my DS was at when he was 13 months. I was able to get help from around his second birthday and he was diagnosed at 3.
While everyone thinks of twins as cute there is a higher risk of disabilities. I would def ask your GP for a referral to a developmental paediatrician.
Whatever you do don't feel guilty, you sound like a wonderful mum doing everything you possibly can to look after your children and make them feel loved.
Thanks everyone. I did look up early sighs of autism a while ago but definitely don't think that most of them fit him - he is much further along vocally / cognitively than his brother (started copying gestures and movements earlier, started making specific sounds earlier) plus he smiles a lot and finds lots of things very funny. He will make eye contact with you in certain circumstances, usually if he's in the highchair or playing on the floor, it's mainly just when he's being held that he doesn't seem to want to look at you.
I will definitely keep an open mind on this and look out for any signs and deal with them early. So far it seems all of the signs are around affection / bond when in other areas he's quite interested or advanced (he's often more than a month or so behind his twin when it comes to physical stuff but catches up really well - for example his brother has been standing for about 3 months now but still isn't interested in trying to walk and is always falling down, whereas this one only started standing a week or so ago but is much steadier and has almost caught up to his brother in this area). He was the first to smile properly, first to make proper sounds, first to copy clapping etc. So I would be surprised if it were that, but I'll definitely keep an open mind and keep an eye on this.
I think if he's been just like he is without the long nicu stay I suspect I wouldn't think so much of it so it's possible it's just his personality, that he's not especially affectionate. To be fair my other twin has only been actively wanting cuddles for a couple of months, so maybe he's just not quite there yet. I think it's more the doesn't seem fussed when I'm not there or when I come back, even though we spend 99% of the time together.
My friends first baby was like your younger twin.
Her second baby is like your older twin.
Planned section for both, both bottle fed, both put on v traditional schedules / not an attachment parenting type of upbringing at all. And yet one is a Velcro baby and always has been, and the other is mightily independent. I can remember my friend literally crying with relief one day when her miss independent gave her a cuddle of her own accord, the child was nearly 4!
I don't think you've much to worry about. But then, I've had a baby is scbu and it does a number on you, that can't be escaped. I'd look into counselling, and tbh I'd strongly suggest being kinder to yourself. Your child is loved and what happened at his birth couldn't have been avoided, it was hospital or death to put it bluntly. He has had the best possible start he could have had and you have done your utter best, do not berate yourself for that. Truly x
I'm sorry you've had such a rough ride. If it's any consolation, DD is 12 months and has never liked being held or cuddled. She'll always come back to "check up" on me if she's zoomed off playing, but if I make a move to hug her she'll physically push me away. She was also a nightmare breastfeeder - always yelled/tried to escape at every feed from around 3 months before latching on, and eventually self-weaned at 5/6 months. We didn't have any of the issues at birth that you write of. She is just her own person, which I do kind of admire
but is also infuriating
If your second twin is interacting with other people, laughing and reacting to funny stimuli and showing social understanding then I think it's unlikely to be autism and more personality.
However, because of your anxiety I would get some input if you can to help you build more bonding into your relationship as you are clearly feeling a lack of bond that you need.
I had this with my second after she has chemo as a baby, I was in shock and traumatized and then had no3 just as she recovered at 3 and we both needed time together that was very hard to find. I still feel we missed bonding and yet at 14 she is very close to me, doing very well at school and socially and is very loving and affectionate. I think we mums are often more traumatized than them!
Thanks so much everyone. movablefeast I'm so sorry you all had to go through that, I hope she's okay now.
I think I am traumatised by it all, definitely. A few days after he finally came home he became unwell and ended up back in hospital with whooping cough, I had to stay in with him for 11 days and leave the other twin at home. I definitely feel like we missed out on the first few months of their lives which makes me really sad. He has a medical condition which means testing his blood sugars frequently and when he was in hospital this meant being stabbed in the heel and lots of blood taken every 1-2 hours. He absolutely hated it (fortunately the lancets for home testing are much less aggressive!) and I think his first few months must have been pretty hellish and lonely. The boys were hardly together until they were 3 months old and I wonder if this had an effect. I desperately tried to bf them but they were both tube fed for a long time and couldn't latch properly, no support from the hospital and my supply was dire so ended up pumping every 2 hours until they were 7 months old - I thought that getting breast milk into them was the most important thing but actually I think it took so much time away from them being held etc that I think it was the wrong thing to do looking back.
I think maybe I do need some counselling to get past all this, and to look at ways to improve things for him now. I really try not to get overwhelmed by the guilt, and I'm much better than I was, but it is hard. I do know I did my best, but I also know that doesn't matter if it's not good enough!
Haven't got twins, but my two are like this. One clingy, one I dependent. I wonder if it's almost a subconscious way of making themselves different or removing competition.
I find the non clingy one easier.
I experienced something similar (not with twins) but not able to hold for 12 hours, no skin to skin etc. It helped when I realised that it was a thing that happened to both of us, not something I did to him. It helped relieve the guilt. I have been working my way through games that adoptive parents get told to do for bonding and dedicated 1:1 special time (just 20mins a day) and it’s really helped. Some people will tell you it’s all in your head, but I don’t think that’s helpful. It’s not in your head but neither is it your fault.
If counselling or similar is good for you, then it’s good for them. Your wellbeing matters for their wellbeing.
I couldn’t hold my DS much for his first few weeks (because I was unwell rather than him). Spending time and energy on my mental health then helped me relax and feel more bonded. DS still thinks I’m less interesting than the cat though!
Thanks all. I think some counselling for me would probably be prudent. I mentioned all this and the birth trauma treatment thing to my husband but he thinks I'm being silly and seemed very surprised that I think I have birth trauma, which I'm a bit shocked by to be honest. He was stood in the next room listening to my screams and hysteria during the seven attempts to get my spinal in. He was the one trying to give me my daily injections at home after my section, where I completely lost my shit and freaked out so badly at the first one that I never let him do the rest (couldn't do it myself either). He was there for the 7 or 8 hours where they wouldn't let me up to nicu and I was convinced the little twin had died. He was there when I was too terrified to hold him even when I had the chance. I suspect he thinks I'm being dramatic.
I dint think you are overdramatic at all.
I struggle to find with Dc1 too and some of the behaviour you described were there. I also could t ‘feel’ the bond. I had PND an then shortly after AND, none of which were treated despite me reaching out to the GP and HV.
When I had dc2 (Dc1 was 18 monts then), I really hit me at how different everyth8ng was and how much love and bond I had with him when I had none with Dc1
Around that time, I also read someth8ng on the adoptions threads on MN. Parents welcoming their adopted dc at home and needing to develop that bond/love. And the advice was
Just act a shame if you love them. Love will come and develop
So I did just that. Spent plenty of time with Dc1 read8ng at bed time (when he was happier to ‘cuddle’), engage on 1-1 play with him, bomb loving etc...
and it came. It took time (probably a few years for me to really feel we had properly bonded). But I now have a teenager who is balanced, adjusted and we share that bond exactly in the same way than we do with dc2.
It will get better
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