It Takes Time to Bond


In 2008, when I was eagerly anticipating the birth of my first child, I went to a talk about pregnancy and birth. I was the very first of my friends and family of my generation to be pregnant, so I had no idea what to expect other than what I had seen on TV and in the movies.

One of the OBs at the talk said, "My wife and I had 3 biological children, and we adopted one child. It took me the same amount of time to bond with my adopted child that it took to bond with my biological children. It was not love at first sight." This is not what the movies showed us...didn't parents always connect with their children in instantly? I asked my mom (with whom I have a very close relationship) what she thought of this statement, and she said, "It took me time to bond with you." I hoped that after all my anticipation for my daughter, I would fall into the 'bond right away' category.

I was lucky in that I had a very easy pregnancy and a relatively easy birth (6 hour labour from start to finish), so I could not hold anything against my daughter in the pregnancy or labour departments. Yet, when she came out and the midwives asked me if I wanted to hold her, all I could think was "I am totally exhausted. I have a lifetime to hold her," and I asked if my husband could hold her instead while I caught my breath. They let him hold her for a minute, and then they put her on my breast. She suckled easily. It was totally surreal. A 7, 11 pound being who lived inside me for 9 months was now sucking on my breasts? Shorty after that, we all fell asleep. Not for long though...this baby wanted to get up every 2 hours to nurse. My goodness, she was demanding!!! 12 hours later, my nipples started to hurt. I became terrified of her (and the pain) every time she wanted to eat, yet I persisted even though I resented her. At night time, she did not sleep longer than 2 hours at a time. I've always been an 8+ hour a night kind of gal. My resentment grew. Sure, she was cute but every time she ate, it killed and every time I started to enter into blissful REM sleep, her cries woke me up (which completely shocked me, as I slept through every single fire alarm in university).

By the 6 week mark, I started hallucinating. One afternoon, when she was wailing away in her swing and I could not get her to settle down, I went outside and screamed. I didn't care if my neighbours thought I was crazy...because I knew at that point I was.

My husband was asked to be best man in a wedding in Japan around that time. My parents, who helped out lot were also going to be on vacation. I panicked at the thought of being alone with my daughter.

Surprisingly, it was not too bad. There was a dance at Trinity Bellwoods Park I wanted to go to. I decided to put the stroller in the trunk and take her with me. She sat in her stroller calmly as various people wanted to pick her up and coo over her. I was happy that her first exposure to swing dancing went so well.

We went home and I cuddled with her. For the first time, I started to think, "I can do this." Then...that 'magic moment' happened. She smiled at me. The bonding process had finally begun.

Article author, Danielle Rabbat's daughter will be 3 years old on Valentine's Day and she is currently expecting another baby sometime in the next 2 months...but is not expecting the bonding to happen immediately! Danielle has been running her company Rabbat Photography since 2001. She also likes to play, lindy hop (swing dance), socialize, listen to music, read, go to live theatre, play tennis, hockey and go skiing (both downhill and x-country).



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