Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bonding Worries

I still feel a disconnect with my daughter. I have no doubt that I love her. I dote on her and I love every minute of taking care of her including changing her diapers, waking in the middle of the night for a feeding, helping her learn it's okay to take an afternoon nap, figuring out what tastes yummy and watching her face when she discovers how horrible carrots are. I am grateful for every chance I have to hold her, see her smile, discover a new texture, etc. But I don't feel like all of me is really experiencing it.

I remember meeting my son for the first time and how he far exceeded my expectations. I couldn't believe something perfect actually came out of my body. I instantly felt love and amazement. I also felt like he was this person inside a baby's body. Maybe it was because I knew I was giving him up and I projected that onto him. With my daughter, I feel like she is "just" a baby and I get to take care of her like she was a living baby doll, that the person she will become has yet to arrive. Sure, she has her own personality but it's just different. Maybe that's me not wanting to rush things. And maybe it's because some of the mystery is gone for me. In addition to having been through a pregnancy and birth before, the technology available today takes a lot of the "wow" out of it. Not only did I know she was a girl, I saw her body in one of those 3-D ultrasounds (she wouldn't show her face, though) and her legs really did look exactly the same when she was born. But the first time I was pregnant, we couldn't even tell (despite two ultrasounds) what the gender was until he was born. Everything was new to me.

I can't help but wonder how much of this disconnect is due to my age, the fact that I've had a baby before, or the loss of my son. Or maybe it's just that being a mommy really takes a lot out of a person and for the past 14+ years I had a version of motherhood in my mind that isn't reality. There's so much to do all the time, so much to think about as far as what is needed, what I need to do to get ready for the next outing or the next day, plus remembering things like how long it has been since she's had a bath, etc. that there just isn't the time to bask in her babyhood, to feel truly connected with her.

Maybe I just need something to worry about. Or perhaps part of me still feels like I don't deserve to be a mother, that I'm not good enough.

I get to spend more time with her than most mothers I know. I only leave her with a sitter when I have to work, and I have a flex schedule so it's not too bad. I've been breastfeeding her and part of me feels that my desire to do so stems not so much from the fact that it's the best thing for her, but from that fact that I am the only person who can do that for her. And the breastfeeding journey hasn't been an easy one because she's a "snacker" so keeping her well fed means feeding her often to make sure she's getting enough.

And maybe part of me knows that she is a person who will grow and one day leave. I've had enough experiences with people in general to know that you can't count on anyone sticking around for the long haul. So while it's a good thing to recognize your child is an independent creature, I am bothered that I don't feel closer to her than I do right now.

When she is awake and playing I want to stop everything I'm doing and just play with her. I love carrying her around and pointing things out to her. I love to hear her voice making it's syllables and nonsensical chatter. And when she sleeps, I peek in at her peaceful poses and hope that she is having good dreams. But I know that a day will come when she is too big to pick up, too old to kiss and nuzzle, too mature to giggle and squeal, too busy to spend time with me. But why can't I realize that these are not good enough reasons to not just live full throttle right now with her?

Why am I anticipating loss? Is it normal/common to feel this way with a baby you have after you've lost one to adoption? Will these feelings go away at some point or just get more intense?

4 Comments:

Blogger Cookie said...

I have heard many birth moms who have some difficulty bonding with another child after losing one to adoption. Think it's complicated - feel of loving the second one more than the first, fear of losing the second one, feeling disloyal to the first - makes sense to me. Being overprotective of a second child is really common too.

Hang in there, I bet it will get better in time.

4:13 PM  
Blogger kim.kim said...

I read that a lot of mothers who lost their first to adoption have stress with the ones they keep. It makes sense to me, it was one of the reasons I didn't try to have another one for 20 years - fear of how I would feel.

I think Jenna's blog and other blogs cover some of these issues if that helps?

4:31 PM  
Blogger Maxine said...

My daughter is 5 (my son is 21, we are recently reunited) ... and yeah, these things you write, they seem normal to me. At the moment, I'm not having issues, but I had all sorts of crazy feelings and thoughts when I was pregnant with my daughter, and after she was born. I felt like she wasn't really mine, had irrational fears that someone would come and take her from me. I *really* needed that bonding that came from breastfeeding, I needed her to need me, there was absolutely no question of formula (aside from the fact that breastfeeding is light years better for the health of mamas and babies). Cookie is right, it does get better. I think my daughter was a year old, though, before I really left all my issues behind and felt completely comfortable being a mom to my daughter. As far as I know, it's all behind us now.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Kateri said...

What Maxine said. The bonding of breastfeeding (and the confidence boost also) went a long way toward bridging the divide. I felt for a long time that Naomi wasn't really mine. I needed her to be needy.

I can really see the difference this time. I don't have any of those issues of entitlement and bonding with miriam. i don't have to exaggerate her needs to solidify my own importance.

10:38 AM  

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