“I’m no more your mother
The above quote is an excerpt from Morning Song by Sylvia Plath, a poem about the birth of a child. This stanza can be interpreted in different ways, but to me it always makes me think about the beautiful, strange, and often difficult process that is bonding with your baby.
After my daughter’s birth I initially believed that I did not have any trouble bonding with her, but looking back I definitely did. I realized that she was a beautiful baby. I knew I was blessed to have her, but I definitely didn’t feel that I deserved her or that she was really even mine.
When she was two weeks old, all of our family had gone back home, and my husband was in class. It was the first time I was really alone with her, and I had the odd feeling that she was due back at the library or something - that she wasn’t really mine to keep. I remember thinking about how quickly she - a perfectly healthy, beautiful little girl - could get adopted. Now that my depression is controlled, these thoughts and feelings seem so strange now, but they were very real at the time.
So what can you if you suspect you are struggling to bond with your baby? Getting help for your underlying mood disorder is of course the first step. Finding an understanding counselor to speak to about this issue is a good idea as well. Lots of cuddling, holding, and talking to your baby will help. Even if you feel like you are faking it, your baby will still benefit. Use a soft baby carrier or sling to make holding easier (this can have the added benefit of helping baby to cry less). If you’re having trouble talking to your baby, try reading aloud. If you don’t feel like reading children’s books, read something you enjoy. Your baby won’t care if it’s Chatelaine or a Hunger Games novel - it is the sound of your voice that’s important.
It is important to remember that bonding can take time - after all your baby is essentially a stranger, a new person you are getting to know. Be confident that with time and improved mental health, you will identify not with the above stanza of Morning Song, but with the very first line: “Love set you going like a fat gold watch.”
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