I’m now 28-and-a-half-weeks pregnant. The time has flown by fast, and I can feel you growing stronger in my womb. In fact, you’re kicking me right now. It’s strange for me to think that I’m close to the end of a journey that, for the most part, has been easy. No morning sickness, no adverse symptoms, and very little moodiness (at least in my opinion!). It’s only been the last couple of weeks that strangers have even begun to ask about you, so even though I feel like I’m exploding and my friends can tell how my belly has grown, I know even that hasn’t been too bad compared to some women’s experiences.
So here’s the thing. Even though I’ve been carrying you for this long, I still don’t feel bonded with you. Even though I love you, I recognize that the love I feel for you is not any different from the kind of compassionate love I feel when I see a stranger struggling on the street. The sad thing is, you’re not a stranger. I can predict your movements. I know that you’re going to kick the heart monitor and then push down as far as you can to hide from it. I know that you’ll be active around 11 p.m., and again when I first go to lay on my side. I know that you’ll have at least one morning session of trying to churn my insides into butter.
When I think about it, I know you’re not a stranger, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still feel like I don’t know you. You are my daughter, but you have yet to bring life to the technical definition. Writing this, I have no doubt that everything will change the minute I can actually see you and hear your cries. I don’t think I’ll have an issue being bonded to you. When I pause and think about what you might look like after you’re born, I feel that rush of emotions reserved only for the people I care about the most. But right now, I feel like you’re little more than of a passenger through my daily life (and I do apologize for some of the stressful things you’ve been a passenger through!).
Don’t get me wrong—I am terrified to lose you. I’ve never been more scared of a “what if” question throughout my entire life, than “What if something happens to the baby?” When I examine the underlying emotions behind my fear, I realize that I’m most afraid of never having the chance to get to know you. This is another reason why I am confident that this phase will have a definite endpoint with your birth day.
So why, if I am already so sure that I will feel bonded with you, am I writing you this letter to let you know that I don’t feel bonded to you right now? Because, sweet baby, it’s something people didn’t tell me about.
In the world of social media, there’s a lot of sharing about the joys of being pregnant. There’s also a lot of sharing about the downsides to being pregnant. I know because at least half of the women close to my age on Facebook have been pregnant sometime in the last year. None of these expectant mothers shared about not feeling bonded to their child. Why would they? That’s not the normal thing to share. It’s not the expected thing to share.
Yet it’s something that many women do face during pregnancy. You can find self-help articles with suggestions of extra ways to bond with unborn babies with a simple google search. You can also find stories from other women who have been through the exact same thing, only to feel that emotional connection almost immediately after birth. Those points don’t change the fact that, for those of us who don’t feel especially bonded to the children in our wombs, it causes extra worry and doubt to see all the posts from gushing mothers-to-be. “Is something wrong with me?” “Why don’t I love my baby as much as so-and-so does?” “Am I supposed to be instantly in love at the first ultrasound? What does it mean if I’m not?”
I feel like I’m one of the last mothers-to-be that somebody would suspect of not feeling bonded to their unborn child, but I am. One day, you may be in the same position. If that happens, I want to be one of the voices that tells you that everything is okay. This is temporary; you are not a bad mother.
Sweet baby, I cannot wait for the day when I finally feel bonded with you.