I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant. I’m pregnant. I sat on the toilet in disbelief. I was staring at the blaring positive on my at-home pregnancy test. It was a quick and swift positive, and I was unprepared to be a mom. In fact, I didn’t want to be a mom.
I had been thinking of leaving my husband for a while. Being pregnant, changed things. I remember praying to God, explaining to Him why I didn’t want to be married any more, why being pregnant would make everything so hard, begging Him for an out and since for me abortion wasn’t an option, I actually prayed for a miscarriage.
The answer I got was immediate and sure, I would not experience a miscarriage, I would carry my baby full term and all would be well. What I did not know at that time was having my son in my life, would change me for the better and was what encouraged me to finally leave my abusive marriage.
After my son was born, I didn’t feel a connection to him, I hardly felt he was mine. The baby the nurse held in front of me after I had given birth seemed alien and strange. I wondered if all mothers felt this way? Was there something wrong with me? Did it just take time to build a connection? I had always assumed it would be this immediate bond, for us, it was not.
Eight years later my connection to my son not only exists, but is stronger than ever and continues to grow. I had to learn a lot, understand a lot and accept a lot in order for that to happen. I had to do a lot of work.
Whether you instantaneously connected with your child or not, these tips will help you deepen and grow your connect (after all, if you don’t take time to water something, it will die).
1. Trust Yourself
I remember thinking I had the mom thing down, after all I was raised the oldest of four and had grown up in an in home daycare, I had a great understanding of child development and entertaining kids.
I did not realize how afraid I would be to leave the hospital with a three day old infant. Walking in my mud room with my baby in his car seat, I became keenly aware of each and every thing that I hadn’t baby proofed and the danger my once safe home seemed to be suddenly filled with.
Rather than give in to the worry and anxiety that threatened to take over, I took every event one moment at a time, from poop all over my hands due to a bowel movement mid diaper change to the Christmas falling on him while he was rocking in his swing (there was no injury and we replaced that old tree with a newer more stable one).
Trust yourself and your instincts, you were born with parental insight for your child and I think kids are built to last through most of our mistakes.
2. Clear Out Past Trauma
The emotions and energy you experience while pregnant and during the birth process actually do affect baby. When I found out I was pregnant, I was afraid and knew I wanted to leave my husband so I didn’t want the pregnancy. Is it any wonder that when the nurse showed me my son for the first time, I felt disconnected?
Letting go of any negative feelings and trauma that may have occurred during pregnancy and birth will help mom and baby connect even more.
3. Forgive and Love The Other Parent
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, and in which case it bears repeating, if you haven’t heard it, read carefully: you already know your child is half you, please remember your child is also half the other parent.
If you hold anger, a grudge, or negative emotions toward the other parent, don’t be surprised if you hold those same emotions in some form toward your child. It’s much easier on you and your child if you just let go of those emotions toward the other parent, realize they are doing the absolute best they can with what they have been raised with and been given and remember how much your child loves both of you.
4. Ask For and Accept Help
I was sitting in the insta-care of my pediatrician’s office giving my twelve month old his first breathing treatment for the RSV he had just been diagnosed of, I had been in the women’s shelter for only a few days, and while i had always prided myself on being strong and capable of anything, I was so grateful to have my mom and grandma sitting in that examining room with me.
Asking for and allowing help in your life does not mean you are weak, but rather that you are strong. I remember a mentor once teaching me to practice accepting help by allowing people who offer to hold open a door or help carry an arm load or whatever it may be, to do just that, help. It takes strength and courage and a bit of humility to admit you can’t do it all, just remember the little lives that are counting on you, and be open to any help that is offered you. (If you’re like most people you already do plenty to offer your help to others, it’s okay to accept it in return).
5. Put Down The Phone
I know, we hear this a lot, and I know it should be obvious, and I’m going to say it again Put Down The Phone. My own son has even said it to me, and I sheepishly put it to the side.
Spend time with your child. Dedicate at least 30 minutes of undivided attention to your child every day. Play what they want to play, cook what they want to cook. Cook something together, Play outside, play inside, read books together, go out, stay home, do whatever to make it a special moment for your child to help them feel important to you and loved by you.