October 2002: After one-and-a-half hours of pushing, an emergency vacuum extraction and a broken tailbone, all I could say when they told me it's a boy is “He's out!”
I spent an hour getting 43 internal and external stitches.
The nurse hands my this tiny human with a cone shaped head that I do not recognize. All I feel after a 22 hour labor (six of which I were in the transition phase), is relief that it is over. I don't feel joy or love.
After a short while I hand the baby off to my husband and I cry myself to sleep. I feel empty and sad. I wish I could have made it the nine more days until my due date. I loved pregnancy so much I didn't want it to end.
A few hours later I attempt to feed this boy. He will not have it. I feel like a failure. I am exhausted and in pain.
A lactation consultant comes in to help me for every feeding to help me but nothing works. I pump after every failed feeding attempt. Nothing comes out.
One day old:
As I sit in the tub to find some relief for my pain I cry because this is so hard. I must be doing this wrong. I cry because I ruined my life. I decide that I hate this baby. It is not frustration, sadness, or general malaise. It is pure hate that I feel, then the guilt.
What kind of mother hates her baby? Aren't I supposed to feel some sort of immediate bond for this little thing sleeping in the other room? I am so messed up in the head!
I still can not get this child to eat. I am mad at him. I continue to pump after every feeding. Still, not a drop of anything is coming out. I am told it can take up to three days and not to worry. I still hate this baby.
Two days old:
I am still pumping and still nothing is coming out. The baby still will not latch on. I am a total an utter failure. What the hell did I do to my life?
I am told the child is developing jaundice. He needs some formula. I am causing this because my body won't produce any milk! I am a failure. Why did I decide to ruin my life this way?
I am taught how to syringe feed him so that I do not make matters worse by introducing an artificial nipple. It feels unnatural and stupid! It pisses me off to have to do it. “EAT FROM ME, BABY!” is what I want to scream at this little person that I hate.
Wow! What kind of psycho mother has these thoughts? I keep them to myself.
Three days old:
I am going home with this baby I do not like at all. In fact, I hate him. Why did I choose to become a mother? I am no good at it. I am frightened he will never eat and will die. Maybe that would be better than all of this, though. I feel as if I have been hit by a truck. I have low energy from little sleep, low iron, a lot of pain and this struggle with feeding. He still will not eat from me. Will he ever? What am I doing wrong? Why are they letting me take him home?
I syringe feed then pump every two hours around the clock. I still have nothing at all coming out. Why won't by body cooperate? I despise this whole process.
Four days old:
My husband goes back to work and I am alone with this child I hate. I don't even say his name. I never have. I am scared what will happen while I am alone with him.
A sliver of hope appears when I start to finally produce two teaspoons of colostrum every pumping. Maybe I really can produce milk for him. Now to get over the hurdle of getting him to take the breast. I try every feeding but still nothing.
He cries a lot. He can feel my stress but I cannot calm my anxiety. I still hate this child and wonder what Idid to my life. He probably knows I hate him.
I gaze at him sleeping, trying to feel something, anything, but hate for him. Nothing. Only hate.
I hate this baby that was so wanted.
I hate this baby we planned for.
I hate this baby I waited for the first six years of my marriage.
I hate this baby I loved and was excited for my entire pregnancy.
Why? Something is wrong with me.
I realize at that moment I have not spoken one word to this child since he was born.
Not a word. It feels weird and uncomfortable when I try so I stop.
What kind of mother does that?
I am just getting through each moment and trying to make him shut up when he cries. Nothing works. He is hungry. I know it, but my body just isn't making enough for him.
I attempt to wash dishes and when he starts to cry I stand at the sink frozen and I cry thinking “not again”. I do not want to go pick him up.
Five days old:
I wake up fully engorged with milk. I pump and get four ounces! I can not believe my body is finally doing what it is supposed to. I have a wave of joy come over me, but still no love when I gaze in my baby's direction. He won't nurse.
I go to the clinic for a baby checkup. I see a pregnant lady and say to my husband loudly “sucker, she doesn't even know what's coming..” and I laugh and laugh. My husband is embarrassed and hushes me. My boobs kill. My doctor is encouraging about me continuing to try nursing. I tell her I am giving up if he doesn't nurse by two weeks and switching to bottles. She supports that decision.
I have a lot of people in my corner but I still feel so alone. I hold my baby all day everyday on the couch and continue to try to nurse and bond with this creature I created. Still no love, and I haven't told anyone how I am feeling. I pretend everything is great. I fear they will take him away or put me in a mental hospital if I speak up.
Seven days old:
The day that changed everything. I got a visit from a public health nurse that helped me show this child how to nurse. I was told to pump until my milk lets down, put his face up to my breast and hopefully he will taste the milk and start sucking. He is wailing. I have to forcefully push his face into my breast and after five minutes of wailing he actually latches on and starts sucking. I can not believe it worked. I want to jump up and down with joy. That nurse saved me from my despair. Maybe we can actually do this, my sweet baby and I. Maybe I really can be a mother, and a good one!
Over the week the nursing gets better and better. By two weeks old we are professionals!I look at my baby and realized I really really love him more than my own life and I cry with relief. I talk and sing to him and show him my love in every way possible.
One month old:
I tell my husband I want lots and lots of babies. This boy has taught me so much and I now know I can face anything and that I was meant to be a mother! We go on to have four more babies, including twins, over the next five years.
Year after year, I have grown to love this boy so much more than I ever dreamed possible. Today he is 12 and my pride and joy. A first born always hold a very special place in a mothers heart!
I wrote this story because I know I am not the only one that does not feel an immediate bond with her child. I didn't know that back then and I felt like I was the only one. I want those other mothers that feel no immediate bond to know that they are not alone and that eventually they will love their child more than they can even imagine. Please share this with anyone you think may need encouragement that things do get better, better than they can even imagine!