I am a stranger. I did not carry her for 9 months so I am completely foreign to her. She will likely recognize my wonder surro’s voice but not mine. So does this mean that the sound of my voice will make her cringe like that of the nasally Fran Drescher from the Nanny? Another point of concern is since I was unable to be her tummy mommy I am terrified that she will not naturally bond with me. I am afraid to say this but here it goes, a deep dark fear I have also developed is will I bond with her? I am supposed to immediately right? You know, the whole love at first sight kinda thing. But what IF that does not happen? I foresee a public lynching as a result since I fought so hard to get here and I end up being a horrible mom.
I worried over these same thoughts for weeks before she was born. I felt guilty for feeling them and terrified that this little miracle may not think of me as her mommy. I found though that I was not alone in these thoughts. Many mothers that carry their own pregnancies share these fears. Many will not admit it but they had the fear of what happens if they cannot bond with their baby. Those who are about to embark on motherhood through adoption and surrogacy lose many nights of sleep before the baby even arrives, fretting over the fear of bonding. I guess for me I was scared that this was all a dream to begin with. It was just too good to be true. We were going to be parents. Although, subconsciously I was waiting for something to go wrong. Maybe perhaps I had built up the expectation of myself to be a mother as too great of mirage that when the time drew near I started to panic. I wanted to be everything to this child, but fear the repercussions if I was not. Failure is not an option here.
Before surrogacy was an option for us, I had read a lot about adoption and parenting an adopted child. I focused much of my time on bonding techniques because that is a huge piece of the process when you are adopting. Bonding or “The intense attachment you develop with your baby” for me, is the deep feeling of wanting to stay up all night like a creeper staring at your mini human or mama bear style bite someone’s head off for sneezing on your baby. The unconditional love you feel regardless of the perfect imperfections. Either way, it is a topic that comes up regularly regardless of how you have built your family. The most important take home here is bonding is not biological, it is mental. I repeat, not biological it is mental.
Here are 6 ways to bond with your baby, however which way they have made it into your arms:
1. Kangaroo care /Skin on Skin
Human touch is soothing and comforting for both mom, dad and baby. It makes them feel warm and secure, like how they felt in the womb. After Jellybean was born, as in seconds after the cord was cut, I requested an area in the delivery room where I could immediately do skin on skin contact with her. That, for me is where the bonding began for us. It is also good for those breastfeeding or doing induced lactation. When I started to have latching issues with Jellybean I was told by my lactation consultant to take baths with her and do lots of skin on skin contact. Now, bath temps for babies are not ideal temperatures, since I like my baths steaming hot. But if you don’t mind being a tit-bit-nipply than it is a great skin on skin bonding moment. I admit though, it felt weird taking a bath with a baby at first but whatever, I was already breast feeding her and basically walking around my house National Geographic style with no top on for weeks already, so a bath was no big deal.
2. Eye contact
They can only see about 12 inches in front of them so the more you look at each other the more they recognize you. Gaze at your baby and don’t worry it won’t creep them out like it would staring at a stranger in a mall food court. They like it and it helps them recognize who you are.
3. Singing and Long-winded Conversations
I hate Chris sometimes, in the most endearing way of course. This is his special dad power. He can make up a ridiculously funny song to pretty much any tune on the fly. He sings to Jellybean almost daily. For me, I have the gift of gab. I talk to her about everything. I am sure to her I sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon but I must say she is a great listener. This benefits bonding because it helps them recognize your voice and of course eventually learn to talk. The more you talk to them the more they start to understand. Just start curbing the F-bomb usage around 8-12 months.
4. Hole up and be Hermits
We limited visitors and their interactions with are new baby all in the name of bonding. I did all of feedings and Chris began to feed her once a day after 3 weeks. When you nurse or feed, it is an intimate time and you are responsible for taking care of their basic needs. They begin to associate that comfort with you. I did not allow anyone other than Chris to feed her until after 6 weeks.
5. Co-sleep but not “CO-SLEEP”
Chris is a wild sleeper. He has decked me in my eye one too many times. So needless to say, do not trust sleeping with your baby in your bed. However, they do have bassinets and Rock n’ sleepers like what we use, that are right next to the bed. Call it easy access or laziness at 12 am, guilty! However, I am right there at her first cry. It also establishes closeness. Almost every night I will lean over and watch her sleep or listen to her snores.
6. Hold Your Baby
Hold them close and tightly. I mean you did wait forever to be parents so I am sure this is not a hard task. This gives them a sense of security and that you are near. Be there when your baby cries and for heaven’s sake, don’t listen to unwanted baby advice and wise tails. You can’t spoil a newborn. Crying is there language, the way they communicate. Try learning her schedule, and anticipate her needs she will know you are there for her. Responding when your baby cries for you.
Bonding is a personal experience and it takes time just like building any kind of relationship. For me there was a “wonderment stage” that lead into bonding. I was in awe with every eye blink and every sound that Jellybean made. We were new parents and she was new to the world so we all had something in common, we are all learning. I used all of these techniques that I learned through our adoption trials which helped wash all of my fears away. Even though you spent years trying to be parents, it doesn’t mean exempt from the same fears others who do not experience infertility feel. I love Chris more than I did when we met 12 years ago. Love constantly grows, as does the love you will have for your new baby.
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