To Join or Be Joined Securely to Something Else
I bonded with my daughter immediately when she was born, but it wasn’t like that with my son.
When Theo entered the world and was put on my chest he started crying. I mean, he was minutes old, of course, but I mean to say he wasn’t crying and then he looked right at me and started crying. “He doesn’t like me,” was the first thing I said when I held him.
I do feel bonded to him now, but it took at least two years. When he was a baby and super upset about something he did not want me to comfort him. He reached for Daddy.
One time I was at the doctors with him, it had to have been his two or four or six month visit, when he was getting shots. I put him down on the table and he was instantly antsy, probably knowing what was coming.
“Talk to him so he knows you’re here,” the nurse said. I remember thinking, he does NOT give a SHIT that I am here, nor does he even know I’m his mother.
A Thing Used to Tie Something or Fasten Things Together
Eva, on the other hand, did not cry when put on my chest. Does reach for me when she wants to be comforted. Absolutely 100% knows that I am Mom. How? Why? I think it’s three reasons:
1) She’s the second kid. I’m just more prepared and relaxed.
2) I had postpartum depression with Theo and not with Eva.
When I was in the hospital with Theo I had images of me bashing his head against the wall and sticking needles in his eyes. I recognized them as disturbing, but normal, thoughts that meant nothing and let them pass without judgement.*
I knew it was depression and not actual actions I was going to take, but did Theo know? Did he pick up on the violent images in my head?
3) Building off of #2: Zoloft. I was put on Zoloft just in time for it to really kick in before I gave birth to Eva. Happier and healthier mom, happy and healthier baby, perhaps.
*Book recommendation: The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, about OCD, takes a deep, interesting dive into intrusive thoughts. Most people have them. People with OCD or related disorders develop compulsions in an attempt to drive them away.
An Agreement With Legal Force
With Theo, I thought it was near impossible to bond with a baby. Especially a newborn, and especially especially a unborn baby still in the womb.
With Eva, our relationship felt natural and right as soon as she was outside me. (Admittedly, I still didn’t feel like I bonded with her when she was on the inside. Probably because I was busy having a complete breakdown for at least a third of the pregnancy.)
And what’s funny about this, is that I wanted a boy more than I wanted a girl. I knew I’d probably want a girl, eventually, but the FIRST kid needed to be a boy. If anything I would have thought this whole scenario would have been the other way around.
So now what’s going to happen if there’s a third?