Yesterday was my fourth child’s fourth birthday!

I’m writing this ahead of time, so of course I can’t tell you how it went. But thinking about his upcoming birthday has made me think a lot about our journey together so far. It has not been an easy one. 

My pregnancy with him was the hardest of all my pregnancies. I was in a LOT of pain while carrying him, and a LOT of pain after he was born, too. I had surgery when he was about 8 months old, but that didn't take the pain away. (you can learn more about that here) In short, my son has never known a time when his mother wasn't in some level of pain.

Before I experienced chronic pain, I had no idea how it could affect the bonding process between a mother and her baby. You see, chronic pain messes with your brain. It is associated with reduction in gray matter, which can lead to impaired cognitive abilities, memory impairment, and emotional problems. It also messes with hormonal balance. 

When I was carrying my fourth, it hurt so badly that I wished he had never been conceived (so sad, but I'm being real here and that is how I felt). And then taking care of him as a nursing baby was so hard, I just didn't feel up to it. Bonding was impaired. I didn't feel much emotion towards him. It makes me cry to think of it now. 

I'm sure some of you can relate. Maybe you didn't deal with chronic physical pain when you baby was little, but there could have been emotional, spiritual, or mental pain. Maybe you had postpartum depression. Maybe you had birth trauma to heal from. Whatever it was, something stood in the way of you bonding with your baby.

I did all the right things to encourage bonding. I breastfed him as soon as he was born and on demand for over two years. I gazed into his eyes whenever possible. I baby wore. I wrapped my arms around him and told him that I loved him. Most of the time I honestly didn't feel it. I'm hoping that he didn't realize it. I tried my hardest to hide it from him. My husband had to keep reminding me of how cute he was, how he was such a sweet little boy, because I couldn't see it.

Eventually I did. Maybe it was when I stopped working and was in a little less pain. Maybe my brain cleared a little or adapted to what I was going through. Eventually, probably somewhere before his second birthday, I finally felt like I was bonding with him. 

Now, I absolutely adore him. He's so bright and cute and precious. He's so unique and I really enjoy sharing life with him. Even though it's sad that he has never known a day when his mama didn't have pain, I'm so thankful he can't remember a day that his mama didn't love him.

If you are having trouble bonding with your little one, don't be hard on yourself. You may be going through something that is out of your control and it is inhibiting your bond. Just keep doing what you have to do to take care of your little one. It will come. Ask for help if you need it.

Lots of love,

He is super excited about his How To Train Your Dragon birthday party.
He is inviting "all the people I love". 


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