Wide Awake: The Baby Bond
Sometimes, it doesn’t happen like they say

The first time I felt like a bad mom was when the doctor put Klein into my arms minutes after she was born. This was my first baby, my first delivery, and suddenly I realized I wasn’t feeling any deep connection. I felt like I had finished an 18-hour workout, and I was in awe of what just happened. But this baby I was holding? I wished her well. But that was about it.

That was my first experience with mom guilt, because let me tell you, when you’re not experiencing the joys of motherhood like everyone says you will, you are convinced there is something wrong with you. Any doubts you had about your ability to be a mom come crashing through and they are now confirmed. Only, this was worse. I never imagined I wouldn’t bond with my child. Never. That’s unheard of – because no one talks about it.

Luckily, Joe instantly fell madly in love with Klein. That was good, because he was happy to give her a bath or carry her when she cried. I did those things too, but I didn’t feel the joy. I cared for this baby like I would any baby.

About a week after Klein’s birth, there was a late night/early morning when the 2 of us were still up because she just wouldn’t go to sleep. I was exhausted, and apparently she was not. My mind started telling me I had made a terrible mistake, that I was wrong to think I was ready to have children. I was convinced this was true, and I wondered if I could place Klein for adoption. I started to think that was a great idea, until I realized my mother or my sister would insist on raising the baby. And even in my delirious fatigued state, I knew that wouldn’t work. At some point we both fell asleep.

I woke up the next morning – rested, and remembering where my mind had just gone. That gave me one more reason why this whole motherhood thing wasn’t right for me.

At my 6-week checkup with my doctor, I had already lost all my pregnancy weight plus an additional 10 lbs. On the one hand, that was pretty awesome. But not really. I lost the weight because I didn’t feel like eating. I was trying to stay nourished because I was nursing, but that was the only reason I ate. I was feeling kind of numb, every day. I was feeling like I shouldn’t have become a mom, every day.

The guilt over that was pretty intense. As far as I knew no one ever felt this way. Everyone who talked about having a baby described the sweet happiness that instantly filled their soul. But it hadn’t filled mine.

I have since decided I probably had some mild form of post-partum depression, just undiagnosed. But since I can remember pretty clearly how badly I felt, I talk about my experience as often as I can. I have casually mentioned to pregnant women how the early days can be really, really hard, despite what people say. I talk about the thoughts you sometimes have late at night when you’re thoroughly fatigued. I try to let them know they may not feel the instant jubilation everyone talks about. And that’s ok.

Several weeks after Klein was born, on some very early morning, I was sitting on the side of the bed waiting for Joe to get out of the shower so he could take the next shift. Klein, of course, was wide awake and had been for a while. I was holding her head cupped in my hand, so she was looking straight at me. For a minute, she locked eyes with me and started to smile the teeniest bit. And my moment happened.

There I was, her mom. She knew it. I felt it. And suddenly, deep in my soul, there was joy. What I thought would never happen, finally did. It just took some time for me to get there. That’s something new moms should know.


We asked moms to tell us something no one ever told them about being a mom. Click here to see what they said.

Read more Wide Awake here

May 2021
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