I thought I would feel an instant connection with my second baby like I did with my first. I thought I would get to hold my little boy in my arms and feel all the warm fuzzies. I thought it would all be natural and easy. Instead, I felt shell shocked and didn’t even want to hold him.
Something had to be wrong with me… What mother didn’t want to hold her baby?
I didn’t get that normal skin to skin bonding time right after birth. He struggled to breathe and was almost sent to the NICU. This abnormal experience threw me for a loop and impacted our bonding. I loved him, but I didn’t even want to hold him.
Some days, after feeding and changing him, I would just leave him in his bed and go about my day. I really only touched him to feed him or change his diaper. I loved, him but I felt like a heartless monster.
1 in 5 women struggle to bond with their baby and it’s even more common with the second child. You are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed about.
I felt so guilty and I didn’t even want my husband to know. I thought he would think I was horrible and a bad mom. I suffered alone for weeks trying desperately to be the mom I thought I should be.
During the first two weeks, I did a lot of research and learned that the intense desire you have to cuddle with your baby is due to a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone makes you love that baby and shower them with kisses. The more you cuddle, the more oxytocin is released making you want to cuddle even more. I forced myself to hold him skin to skin for hours. I cuddled that little boy praying the oxytocin would fix me. Luckily it did, but I am still haunted by the guilt.
I still struggle to feel like a good mom to my second baby. Somedays, I feel like he missed out and I have already emotionally damaged him. I try to cuddle him extra and give him as much attention as possible with two kids. I try so hard to repair any damage I might have done. Those first months are so important and I feel like I didn’t give him enough.
Moms, there is nothing wrong with you if you don’t feel that instant connection. You are still a good mother. I say that when, even now, I fight with my own guilt. If you struggle like me and have tried every avenue, please reach out for help. Some days, the depression may win, but there are resources out there for you.
For postpartum support groups and resources check out: