Why don't I feel overwhelming love for my baby?

(26 Posts)
Girl339 Sat 29-Jun-13 20:20:09

I have a gorgeous little 3 week old baby girl and I look after her as well as I can, make sure she has everything she needs etc. But why don't I feel this overwhelming love and joy all other mothers seem to feel? We had a very traumatic birth leading to her being rushed away to intensive care for a week so I missed those essential bonding days and now I'm terrified I'll never feel the way a mum should.

I'm not coping well, cry all the time and feel really alone as I'm by myself all day every day most of the time. I've ended up shouting at my gorgeous baby a few times and am just really hating being a mum which leaves me feeling so guilty and really sad. I was so looking forward to being a mum and now I'm hating it and feel such a failure.

Does anyone else feel the same? Have I got PND? What have people done to feel better? I don't know what to do.

BangOn Sat 29-Jun-13 23:12:37

This is probably linked to your traumatic labour.

I speak from experience - dd1 v. Traumatic delivery - had pnd. Bonding took years.
Dd2 - wonderful birth - loved her instantly.

Do speak to hcp, see if there are groups, esp for PND you could get to - i found one when dd1 was 8 months old - i think it actually saved me, looking back. Wonderful, nurturing environment, - great therapy, & group of women who were all going through it together. And anti-depressants can work wonders too so don't rule them out if needed.

Girl339 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:01:51

Hi everyone

Thank you so much for all your kind replies, it is such a relief to see that other people have felt the same, I thought there was something terribly wrong with me! People just don't tell you that you might feel like this, everyone you talk to and everything you read says you'll feel an immediate maternal love and bond. Also very reassuring to hear that it does get better, i just need to hang in there.

Thank you for all the advice, I'll definitely be going back through it all again and reading all the links etc. We only moved to this area a few months ago so I don't really know many people so I'll definitely be trying some mummy groups which hopefully will help too.

Shellywelly1973 Sat 29-Jun-13 22:02:40

Hi op.

I've got 5 dc. I only felt that rush of love for one. With some of them i felt nothing, total indifference & one just annoyed me!

Its exhausting having a new baby. There are so many demands on a new mother.

Talk to someone, family, friends, hv or GP. I do think lots of women feel awful after giving birth but we don't openly talk about it.

Tale care of yourself.

Thurlow Sat 29-Jun-13 21:54:30

Also, I remember weeks 3-4 being the absolute worst. All of a sudden DP was back at work and I was supposed to magically get on with it, along with taking over more of the night wakings. I felt utterly out of control. What saved us was starting a routine - I'm not advocating this, but I am advocating trying to take control of your day and starting to find ways to make it all work.

SoYo Sat 29-Jun-13 21:50:02

Girl I had my first baby 17 weeks ago and I've been very vocal to all who will listen about how I've felt at each bit as I think there's not enough said in RL & loads of new mums feel guilty for no reason.

I hated the first 5 weeks, really really hated them. I've never been so tired, terrified & had no bloody idea what to do to make anything better. The second my baby was born I felt very protective of her and knew I needed to look after her but I certainly didn't feel bonded with her or strong love for her, in fact, at about week 3 when I cried more than anything and got so tense when she cried that it scared me, I'd have turned back the clock and not get pregnant if I could have.

It's all changed now. It started to gradually get better when she started smiling and I felt like I was getting something back. She's now a big, giggly, happy madam and my heart melts when I see her in the morning and when she gives me that wonderful gummy grin. I adore her. There's still days I could shout at her but can much easier resist now, there's still even days I have a good sob but I now know what people are talking about with the love they feel for a child. Try not to worry, it will come in your own good time.

Ask yourself if you're still able to see the happiness or joy in anything. If you are, however briefly, you're doing OK and just coping with wading through the toughest bit of all and you just need to talk to people and keep an eye on it, if you're not you need to see your GP or midwife and have a chat about it.

I really hope that and everybody else's messages that this is a normal reaction help you. Feel free to PM me anytime.

SugarandSpice126 Sat 29-Jun-13 21:38:18

Take a look at this thread - www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1786967-How-much-PND-do-you-think-is-a-rational-reaction-to-awful-circumstances

You had a traumatic birth and then your little baby was in intensive care for a week. That is a significant trauma. It's not something you can just get over and move past from quickly. It must have been horrendous, and is most likely the main reason that you're feeling so unconnected and upset. Have you thought about whether you could have ptsd? Imagine if your partner/parent suddenly got really ill and you had no idea what was going to happen. That would be horrible and would make your emotions go crazy. But this isn't the only thing that's going on - you've suddenly got a tiny person totally dependent on you and you're totally on your own for a lot of the time and you've got the rollercoaster of hormones that comes after birth. These are really difficult set of circumstances, and there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do. Absolutely nothing at all.

As the thread I linked says, the reaction you're having is a rational reaction to really traumatic circumstances and a massive life change. I know it seems as though loving your baby and getting on with it is just so natural and normal, and you must be some kind of freak for having these feelings - but you're not, it's ok and you're not some kind of monster. When you pass other new mothers in the street or see your relatives with babies, it's very likely that they've felt like you do at some point. It doesn't make you a bad mum.

I wouldn't rush to diagnose PND or go on ADs just yet, as it's only been three weeks. (I know three weeks must feel like a long time with these feelings, but it's a short time with a baby). Do talk to your GP, or HV about what you're feeling, they will understand. See if you can get some counselling to talk through your feelings, as that might really help. Do you have any family who you could spend time with, or friends who could come round? Being alone is probably the worst thing for these kinds of feelings, but I know it's not that easy to get out and about everywhere when you're still getting to grips of motherhood.

You can get through this and you will love your baby. Look after yourself as well as you can, and things will get better. Everyone on here can reassure you that this is normal and it won't last forever.

mummywantsaliedown Sat 29-Jun-13 21:35:50

Another 'you're not alone' post. Keep yourself and your baby well, try and get some outside time and find someone to talk to. It could be next week, next month or next year, but at some point that needy, whiny little bundle will make your heart sing.

Thurlow Sat 29-Jun-13 21:35:48

Another one saying me too and this is very common. I never felt an overwhelming rush of love for DD, and I think a lot of parents don't. I never understood that whole 'staring at the baby for hours'. I think it's hugely normal, actually, and that we are almost oversold this idea of falling head over heels in love with your baby. Feeling protective of them, knowing you will do anything for them, that's one thing - but it took you time to fall in love with your husband, and it can take time to fall in love with your baby.

I remember one thing I always struggled with, and still do if I am being honest, is that a baby/child just don't do what you want or need them to do. 90% of the time it never bothered me, but some times I still can struggle when DD won't do what I need her to do. Sometimes it's hard to fully grasp that you have this little person who is utterly reliant on you but who you can't 'control', if that makes any sense.

At 3w you are probably exhausted and just figuring out how to cope on your own. Have you tried any groups? They were my life saver, just getting out and about every day. It's about trying to find a routine (for lack of a better phrase for it) and gradually figuring out how to manage on your own with your baby. That's a huge task.

It's absolutely fantastic that you can acknowledge that you are struggling at the moment, and in my very limited experience it is also probably a very good thing. Talk to your HV, find out some groups and contacts near you if you feel up for it, and good luck. It's still the very early days and I think you are sounding like most mums in those early months.

hattyyellow Sat 29-Jun-13 21:25:56

I think you really need support. I was alone a lot after my first pregnancy and had what they called post natal anxiety - verging on depression. A lot of which was caused by living somewhere new, no support, no sleep etc. Do you have family and friends nearby who can help?

It's a huge shock to the system having a baby and sometimes I think you need to be mothered a little yourself, to have time to get over the shock and trauma you've experienced. I was very honest with my health visitors and they kept a close eye on me and visited a lot, can you confide in any medical professionals. They will understand, i remember my NCT group seemed so calm and so adoring of their babies and I remember sobbing about this to the Health Visitor who eventually said "Actually they're not all fine all of the time, I can't tell you details but I know". It's easy to see other mothers through rose tinted glasses, but they may be just putting on a front and also tired and fed up some of the time.

gussiegrips Sat 29-Jun-13 21:17:59

But, don't go fretting that you've got some sort of meltdown coming your way!

Feeling like this is so common - but, it's not something that women readily admit to for fear of being judged.

I don't know whether this feeling is an indicator of having a mood disorder - your hormones are still all over the place, you've had a rocky start, you'll be knackered and too busy to process all the hospital stuff. Doesn't mean you have PND or PTSD - but, it does, I guess increase your risk.

So, be kind to yourself. Tell someone how you feel - not because you need to be medicated, but so they can give you a cuddle, tell you that you are doing a great job and make you a cuppa.

Who can take baby out so you can get some sleep? Ask for help, get a break, even for an hour so you can have a right, proper cry.

First rule of mothering is "put your own oxygen mask on first"

Takes a bit of getting used to.

IceAddict Sat 29-Jun-13 21:09:54

See, you're not alone there's loads of similar stories. Actually I think you're very brave posting about this so soon, I kept my feelings to myself and dragged it out

valiumredhead Sat 29-Jun-13 21:06:35

Don't be too hard on yourself,I didn't get that 'rush' until ds was 3 months old. I had pnd, traumatic birth and ds was 8 weeks early so not surprising I felt shit really looking back.

Have a chat with your hv.thanks

IceAddict Sat 29-Jun-13 21:06:31

I did to, I wondered why I didn't feel the overwhelming love, in fact i though, this could be any baby. After a few months the love did grow but I was jealous of dp and ds and even said he should leave me and take baby with him because they had a bond and I didn't. I had PND and after treatment Things changed a lot. My friends also admit this expected love isn't always automatic but it grows and grows.

I think you're letting your expectations of what it should be like put pressure on you. If you didn't care you wouldn't be posting.

Go and have a chat with your GP be honest with them and yourself about your feelings. You will get there and your love will grow. Please don't feel guilty or bad. Your baby is well looked after and you can only do your best. Sending big hugs to you. Congratulations on your beautiful baby. Relax and enjoy smile

stella1w Sat 29-Jun-13 21:04:05

You may have ptsd. I found emdr helpful

Meglet Sat 29-Jun-13 21:02:38

gussie same here. I was "phew, we're both alive, is everything ok... can I have some pain killers and a rest please".

I was mother tiger protective of mine from the start, but I've never had a 'rush of love' or hormonal high either.

girl339 don't be too hard on yourself, you've both had a rough start which never helps. Have you got some support in RL, you need to take the early days at your pace while your body and hormones settle down. Speak to your HV or GP about your mood and arrange a birth debrief in a couple of months so you can go through what happened.

brainonastick Sat 29-Jun-13 20:58:44

Oh Girl, it's totally normal, don't be hard on yourself. I was the same with both of mine - first a more traumatic birth than the second. I don't think it's necessarily related to the birth (although a bad experience doesn't help), you need time to recover, get used to this massive life change, learn the practicalities of caring for a baby, and get to know the baby as a personality rather than just a responsibility.

Don't worry that you will never feel that love, I can promise you it will come when everything settles down - a few weeks, maybe even a few months - but it is no less strong for taking some time to arrive.

You sound like you are being a great mum, caring as well as you can. Take care of yourself, make sure you are resting as much as you can, and getting enough sleep. That's all you need to worry about right now. Can you get some company in the day? A baby group? Even getting out for a walk every day helps.

Can you talk to your partner or your mum/a friend? Even your health visitor? They might know you well enough to not only give you some support, but also be able to keep an eye on you in case you do develop pnd. Maybe show them this thread if you can't find the words.

In time, when you are ready, you can also ask for a 'debrief' of the birth at the hospital as well - called a Birth Reflections service or similar. I found it useful in coming to terms with everything that happened (before I did it again!).

Take care, keep posting if it helps.

stella1w Sat 29-Jun-13 20:56:38

You may have ptsd. I found emdr helpful.

I could have written your post 4.5 years ago. I never felt the overwhelming rush with my DD1 but it does get better. Little by little. To look at us now you would never guess that I once asked my dad to give her to someone else sad

gussiegrips Sat 29-Jun-13 20:52:36

another one with the "me too"

I've had three kids, and with each of them my honest emotional reaction was "is it alive?" "does it need anything?" "can I sleep now?" End of interest.

It took me a long time to, well, forgive myself. But, to be perfectly honest - it's a whole lot more common that you'd think. It's one of these ugly truths about parenthood - and one that people keep quiet incase they are judged as being unfit parents.

Being a bit "meh" about your baby is as normal a reaction as being "gush". Doesn't make you a good mother, doesn't make you a bad mother. Just means you are doing what you can at the time.

Like everyone else has said - I love mine with a passion now, but, I genuinely did not get a whiff of that before 6 weeks.

I cared for them, I wanted them to be ok, but I was too tired to sit and gaze at the wonder of them for hours on end.

Newborns are a whole lot of work for very little return, in my experience at least. Once they smile at you, and that magical moment when they hug you back...awww.

Give yourself a break. You've had a really hard time, you're tired. You're doing your best - and that's all anyone can ask.

<here, give the baby to me. I'll shoogle her, you go and have a cup of tea>
x

parabelle Sat 29-Jun-13 20:41:52

I was the same. Dd was in special care for a fortnight. I never felt a surge of overwhelming love. For me it didn't happen for about 18 months, now I could not love dd more if I tried.
Give yourself time, talk to some professionals, consider antidepressants.
And cut yourself some slack, you've just become a mum, it's hard. Hang in there. Hope you're okay.

HoleyGhost Sat 29-Jun-13 20:39:36

Speak to your GP or HV, ask for a referral to counselling.

Being a parent has just begun for you. How you feel about your 3 week old has no bearing on how you will feel about your three year old or 13 year old.

Be kind to yourself. You have been through a lot and this is the hardest time.

AntsMarching Sat 29-Jun-13 20:34:11

I have two dds. I never felt that overwhelming love in the beginning. My love for my dds 'grew on me'. I love them to bits, but I had to get to know them first before I felt that way.

You are not the only one who hasn't felt that rush of love. You shouldn't feel bad. I think it's more normal than you think, but seems to be one of those things people don't talk about because we all think we're supposed to feel that rush.

Try to rest and spend time with your baby. That love will come.

Shenanagins Sat 29-Jun-13 20:32:48

The best thing someone said to me after i gave birth was that they never had that initial surge of love for their child as i was beating myself up over this. The love for my son built up over time to the intense, fierce love i have now, over 2 years later.

you should speak to your hv over suspected pnd and the birth trauma association website may also be helpful.

whattodoo Sat 29-Jun-13 20:25:44

Hey, it'll be OK (hug).

I felt the same, worried that I didn't love my baby enough.

But I didn't have the terrifying start that you did, have you talked through the birth with anyone?

You may have PND, have a chat with your HV.

Do you get out at all? A change of scene, just for a stroll to the park can be good. Do you have relatives you could visit?

Do you know any other new mums? Sharing experiences can often help.

I hope your DD is fully well now, and that you're soon feeling brighter x

GingerPCatt Sat 29-Jun-13 20:25:39

I had a very similar experience. DS is now 2 and I love him more than I ever thought possible. Though I may kill him if he gets out of bed one more time tonight hmm.
Talk to your gp or HV. Anti depressants did me a world of good. Talk to friends and family or if you don't feel they are supportive talk here. A lot of people have been through similar. It will be ok.

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