Bonding With Baby – or Through the War Zone

When I was going to have my first child, I would read stories that would gush about how there was this instant bond with the baby when it was born.  I found that to not be true.  When my daughter was put on my chest, it was like she was this little alien that had suddenly appeared.  I did not have a magical bond with her.  She was just this little helpless creature — my little helpless creature — that was shoved into my arms.

bonding with baby

Over the next month, we stayed up most of the nights together, her eating, me trying to stay awake.  We cried together, we slept together, we were exhausted together, we bonded together.

I liken the bond between a parent and child very much like the bond between soldiers who have served in war together.  You have gone through trials and exhaustion side by side and have come out the other side.  THAT is a bond that withstands the test of time.  That is the bond that you would give your life for.  That is the bond that you get with your child.

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  1. GirlMom says:

    I was so concerned about my ‘lack of bonding’ that I did a bunch of research while the babies slept. It turns out the feeling of being bonded takes quite a while but the actual medical bonding is present within a day of birth and probably started before birth.

    • Hmm. So what is the difference? What is a “medical bond”? The emotional bond that develops over time is one that happens with fathers and adoptive parents as well.

      • GirlMom says:

        Medical bonding studied things like taking the baby out of the room and response to the child getting shots. It turns out you may not feel bonded but you are very protective which is how they were defining medical bonding.

        I think you are right to bring up adoptive parents. I have had a few (in my medical practice) given 12 hours to decide if they will take an infant or not. Despite their feeling ambivalent about the decision for a while, they were medically bonded very quickly. And feeling bonded came on track with other Bio Moms.

        I was studying into bonding to multiples, because it is harder than it looks. Studies suggest that parents bond to 2 or three at a time and can take 2-3 months to bond to the next one, often adding another every 1-1 1/2 months. Interestingly the parents didn’t always but usually bonded to the same infants, leaving the unbonded ones without a close attachment. I assume that this study was taking about the bonding you feel, but it actually studied how much time you talked and touched the babies.

        Such a fascinating subject. I love that you are talking about it. Women often feel very guilty that they don’t feel bonding like a lightening bolt of affection. I keep telling them, ‘We we not ducks!’

        • That is so interesting. I totally can see that because even though I saw her as a little alien, she was my alien and I wouldn’t have let anyone do anything to her. It was faster with the second one I think since I had been through it all before.