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Bond - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
Bonding with Duncan has been different than bonding with Margaret was. I suppose that shouldn't be surprising because they are different babies and circumstances are different, but I thought it was worth some discussion.

When I was pregnant with Margaret I was a tad obsessive. I'd wanted a baby for so very long, and just when it looked like it was never going to happen I was finally pregnant. I was aware of every little twinge, every symptom. Even in utero Margaret seemed like an insistent child. With Duncan it was different. I seemed to have fewer symptoms overall, but I also had an active toddler to keep up with, so I had less attention to spare for the pregnancy. I did notice Duncan moving earlier than Margaret, but otherwise there was less to note about the pregnancy, especially since it wasn't a new experience.

Duncan's birth was also different. With Margaret things were pretty controlled. It was on the short side for a first labor, but even so I was at the hospital for about seven hours before she was born. That was plenty of time to relax and get centered and prepared for the experience. I know that sounds a little crunchy granola, but it's a fairly accurate description of what went on. With Duncan I arrived at the hospital in considerable discomfort and more or less ready to push. I barely had time to catch my breath and I had to deal with the fact that my daughter had to stay in the waiting room with one of my support people and I had rather less confidence in the medical staff present for Duncan's birth. In short, I wasn't able to entirely focus on Duncan during his birth the way I was able to focus on Margaret during hers.

There's been a lot written about how birth experience affect maternal bonding. A lot of it is from folks who want to change the way hospitals manage births, and what they write can make it seem like a problematic birth scenario is a major problem when it comes to bonding. I will admit that when Duncan was born I didn't feel the same rush of something like recognition that I did with Margaret at her birth. I think that a large part of this is that I was still in coping mode. I was focused on making sure everyone was OK. This of course included Duncan first and foremost, but he was not the only one I felt I had to track the status of. As a result of the altered circumstances I don't feel like I bonded with Duncan quite as immediately as I did with Margaret. On the other hand, it was far from a tragedy. Duncan is a sweet, mellow and robust little boy, it would be impossible for me not to fall in love with him. I fell in love with him gradually, as we spent time alone together in calmer circumstances. I love my little boy every bit as much as I love my little girl, it was just a different experience and a different time-line.

I imagine that some day one of my kids will ask me who I love more. It's a common question kids ask. I remember as a kid myself I never felt that the standard 'I love you both the same' answer was very satisfying. It would also not be an accurate representation of the truth if I gave it. I love my kids differently, because they are different people that I grew to love under different circumstances, but it is a qualitative difference. As for the quantitative difference, I love them both so much that trying to measure who I loved more would be like trying to quantify a difference of a few nanometers in a measurement made in light-years. Now I just have to hope that they both grow up to be nerdy enough to understand that explanation.
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psychohist From: psychohist Date: March 5th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I think birth experience may still be an issue in the general case. Not everyone gets to spend alone time with their child in calm circumstances. The whole situation with Margaret not being allowed at the hospital made the experience rather stressful for me, for example, and issues like that could cause problems even for some mothers.

Edited at 2010-03-05 02:31 am (UTC)
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