07 July 2016

I Didn't Bond With My Daughter After Birth...And That's Okay!

I Didn't Bond With My Daughter After Birth...And That's Okay! #parenting #parentingadvice #motherhood

For some mothers, the bond with their child begins the moment they find out they are pregnant. For others, the bond forms the moment they lay eyes on their baby for the first time. But for other moms? Sometimes the bond takes a little longer to develop. 

This is the category I fell into. 

I never thought I was ever going to have the opportunity to be a mom. Something you may not know about me is that in a faraway land a long, long time ago, I was married. Obviously, the marriage didn't work out because here I am with another man and a child but the point is that my first marriage was childless and by every indication would always be childless. I had pretty much given up all hope that I would ever be a mother. We divorced in 2009 and I moved forward with my life.

Another factor that concerned me was my complete lack of a motherly instinct. I wasn't big on playing with dolls, or playing house, or any of those types of things growing up. I would have much rather been running the neighborhood with the boys skateboarding, playing Dungeons and Dragons and making really dangerous, fall-and-break-your-neck club houses in trees. I was a complete tomboy. But even as I got older and became a teen whose tomboy tendencies shed, I still didn't have that "feeling" most women have when it comes to kids. You know the one I'm talking about - that giggly, bring a tear to your eye just thinking about a baby type of glow. I didn't have it.

I liked kids. I loved them and loved playing with them and hanging out with them. I babysat like crazy through high school. I knew I wanted at least one child but I was always conflicted and confused as to how I could want children but not have a motherly instinct. As time went on, my explanation was that I didn't have to think about it anymore. The decision had been made for me - it just wasn't in the cards for me to have a child. As heartbroken as I was, over time I learned to accept it and move on with my life. 

Fast forward to 2010. Michael and I had been dating for a few months and on a whim, I took a pregnancy test and my life changed forever. Nine months later, I had a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Life seemed to come full circle for me. I was elated. I was so happy. I loved holding her and just looking at her. I was over the moon thrilled. BUT...

I was also depressed. I was severely depressed. I had to have a C-section which meant I got no immediate bonding time with Maddy after she was born. I was also transitioning between jobs which was very stressful. I had 2 gallstone attacks after Maddy was born and to add insult to injury, I couldn't breast feed. I felt like the world's worst mother.

The icing on the cake was still feeling like I had absolutely no mothering instincts whatsoever. I'm not joking when I say they never kicked in after Maddy was born. I loved my child. I would have gladly given my life for my child but I didn't have a connection to her. To me, it seemed like she was more of a responsibility than my child. All of a sudden I had this dictator in my life ruling over me and it just didn't connect.

Looking back on it now, I know the my bout with postpartum depression contributed a great deal to me feeling the way I did but honestly, the majority of my feelings came from a place of not knowing what to do with my own daughter. I had absolutely no clue on how to be a parent and even less of an idea of how to take care of her. I was totally winging it hence, feeding into that fear of not having a motherly instinct.

Over the months and years my relationship with Maddy has changed a lot...and often. I went from looking at my daughter as a foreign being to seeing her as I do today - my greatest creation ever. But I'm not going to lie to you - I've run the full gamut of emotions when it comes to having a child; I've felt resentment, fear, elation, sadness and even mourned my care-free single life. But that's okay and it's normal. I needed to do those things to get me to where I am today.

Where am I today? I'm in a great place with Maddy. I look at her and my heart swells with pride. She smiles at me and the heavens open. We laugh and play together like we are old friends. We share secrets like girlfriends do. I see her as the curious, happy, crazy intelligent being she is now and I can allow myself to think, "Yes, I created that. I'm doing okay as a mom." This doesn't mean that we don't have our bad days because we most certainly do. It just simply means that now I know motherly instinct or not, I am a mom and I'm doing one hell of a job with my daughter. I don't need an instinct to validate that for me anymore.

So there you have it. A once intimidated by kids kind of girl became a strong, capable mother. It hasn't been easy; I've had to fight hard along the way to figure out who I am as a mother but Maddy makes my life worthwhile. She was made for me - I truly believe this. I've had moments when I look into her eyes and I know that in another heavenly world, we knew each other already as kindred souls. We all come into this world for a purpose and hers was to be mine.

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

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