Saturday, April 03, 2010

Bonding

This post has been brewing in my mind since the early days of infertility. I've often wondered how I would bond with my child(ren). Would it be an instantaneous feeling at some significant "safe" point during pregnancy, a progressive realization culminating in birth, or a combination of experiences and interactions prior to and post birth?

I felt an instant connection when I first saw 3 little flickers on the ultrasound. I knew they were my babies, but it didn't feel real for many many months. I went ahead with a CVS procedure to help ease my mind or help prepare me for a child (or children) with special needs. There was never any doubt that I loved these peanuts who were growing inside me. Even though I was thrilled, scared, intrigued and mesmerized by them on every ultrasound, it still felt strangely unreal. It just wasn't sinking in that I could actually have children - let alone three.live.babies.

I guess it was self-preservation in the event I miscarried one or all, sheer overwhelmedness at the prospect of raising triplets, and continued disbelief that I was fortunate enough to be pregnant at all.

Now that I'm on the other side of the birth, have had the life changing experience of meeting my children, and have had the benefit of a mere 5 months of perspective, I'm still not entirely sure. But somehow, in the past few weeks, I've felt more bonded to these babies than I did during the pregnancy, their birth and shortly thereafter.

Anyone who has had a C-Section can understand how robbed one feels after the birthing experience. If having children is one's singular focus for so many years, it's hard not to feel a little cheated by the way the actual birth happens. You are shielded from seeing your children's first breath, censored from the full experience. It is bizarre. After having carried them for so long, there is no moment of recognition, no skin-to-skin snuggle, no meet and greet. Just a frenetic, sterile OR with babies briskly whisked away by NICU staff.

You are left pondering the biggest moment in your life while being stitched up, sedated and unable to move. There is no post-birth bliss, no time to exhale and just breathe, no moment untainted with fear over their well being. I heard their cries in surround sound as they were born, and listened as it faded down the hallway when they were being wheeled to the NICU.

The NICU ritual is even more distancing. You sanitize your hands, cover your clothes, touch your babies through isolette port holes at designated times. It is regimented, structured, clinical... There is no privacy, nowhere to bond with your babies or flee when the fear and guilt at their premature birth and suffering overtake you.

It's no wonder then that our bonding has progressed slowly. With each glimpse of their personalities, each prolonged stretch-after-waking that resembles a slow thaw, each snuggle, each smile, each cry, their being is etched deeper onto my heart. I'm so in love with them. Even more profoundly, I am so fond of them.

I find myself staring at each of my babies in wordless wonderment, even when I'm exhausted beyond comprehension. I feel strangely empty when I'm away from them, like I'm missing an essential body part. I know I will never be whole again unless they are in my life.

They look at me knowingly, with the expectation that I will feed them, clean them, entertain them, ease their pain. Their cries are like shock waves of electricity to my soul, a visceral reaction requiring immediate attention.

They are barely five months old, but in this short period of time, they have made me a mother. Finally.

8 comments:

Melissa G said...

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

Kate said...

Love this. It will be interesting to see how my relationship with my daughter develops over the next few months.

Anonymous said...

wow, it was really nice to read your description of the C/Section thing - I had my little boy by emer C/S 8 weeks ago due to pre eclampsia and feel awful that he came into the world without his daddy or his mammy present - daddy was outside pacing the halls and I was under. I don't even know if he cried immediately or if they had to suction him, and I feel really robbed of hearing that first cry. you described it really well, glad I am not the only one who feels like this, was thinking that I should be grateful we have him and not mourning the lack of birth memories (he came after 1 mc) but it's nice to see I am not alone. Your babies sound fab, all the best to you, have been following your story since you were about half way through the pregn with them.

Stacie said...

A beautiful post. It took me quite a while to fully bond with my twins after their early arrival, too.

Morningglory said...

I had a c/s as well. As I didn't have the immediate bond with them, Breast feeding the moment I held them the first time helped speed the bonding process. I still don't have that full bond with them like I did with my other children, but I am fully in love with my twins.

looks like many of us share your grief and understand how robbed you feel.

Happy Easter! take care.

'Murgdan' said...

Beautiful. :-)

poppy.f.seed said...

Very nice post. I had a water birth, but was in so much pain that I didn't see my baby's first breath, etc. It took a little while for me to become aware of her. And, I have only recently really become comfortable calling myself a mother. It is strange that it can take time!

R.J. said...

Your babes are so cute I can hardly stand it! The Dungarees picture is a keeper.

Your post was quite irreverent. Lots of things I'd never thought of. Thanks for being so open and honest about your experience.