Bonding Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

The Rush of Love

Guest Blog By Anna from Biscuits & Baby Wipes


When my eldest, Theo, was born two years ago, I felt everything I was meant to as he was placed straight into my arms after the birth. He was our very much longed for baby and I had spent a lot of time throughout my pregnancy bonding with my bump. I would sing to him, bought expensive massage oils and spent a lot of time visualising him.

We didn’t find out what we were having but I just knew he was going to be a boy. I felt as if I knew him inside out from the moment we locked eyes on each other. I felt totally overwhelmed by the strength of my love when I held him that first time. It’s such a cliche but I honestly thought my heart might burst. I instantly felt ridiculously protective of him and hated anyone else holding him, even my husband. I breast fed him for the first few months and he was a hungry baby, so we were literally glued to one another.
Being one of two girls, I never witnessed a mother-son relationship first hand. I had assumed Theo would naturally have a closer bond with Zac and I would become a bit of an onlooker. So our exceptionally close connection took me totally by surprise.
Things with our second child, Daisy, couldn’t have been more different. I didn’t get that rush of love. Sounds brutal, I know, but I think I might finally be in a place where I can put this experience into writing.
I won’t go into the gory details but we had one weak moment over Christmas 2015 and all of a sudden we were expecting another baby. I remember feeling terrified and went into a total panic. More than anything I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. How could I do this to Theo? He wasn’t even one yet. I suddenly felt as though the countdown had begun, ticking down the little time we had left together before an intruder would ruin everything.
I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. I know I should have felt happy and so fortunate to be in the position I was in. I know there are couples who would give anything to have a child and another on the way. I can’t imagine the unbearable pain they must feel. This made me feel incredibly ungrateful and a pretty shitty human being.
I felt indifferent at the 12 week scan. Then at the 20 week scan I convinced Zac that we needed to find out what we were having. This wasn’t the original plan as I loved keeping it a surprise with Theo, but I had hoped that knowing the sex would help me to bond a bit more with my ever expanding bump. It didn’t. I bought one pink dress as I felt that’s probably what I should do then carried on ignoring the situation. I saw my midwife appointments as a massive inconvenience. I would get so excited about going to them the first time around. I tried to act excited when I heard the heartbeat but I still felt nothing.
Then Friday 23rd September arrived and I went into labour. It was 3am and my mum had just arrived to look after Theo. I went into Theo’s bedroom and gave him a kiss goodbye as he slept. I wept as I realised our time together as a twosome was over. I had spent the last 8 months dreading this moment. My contractions were very close together by this point so I quickly left the room and closed his door behind me.
An hour and a half later at hospital, Daisy was born. Zac got the first cuddle whilst they repaired the damage down below (childbirth is so bloody undignified!). I felt numb but so excited to hold her and to finally feel that connection I had been waiting for all year.
Zac handed her to me and.. nothing. I felt like I was holding someone else’s baby. I knew I loved her deep down, but that overwhelming connection just wasn’t there. When I held Theo I felt like I had known him my whole life. I think I expected Daisy to be the spitting image of him but they couldn’t have been more different. Theo looked a bit like Phil Mitchell and E.T’s love child. Daisy had a head full of jet black hair and such beautiful dainty features. She was a stunner, that much I could appreciate. I held her for a few minutes, then handed her back to Zac telling him I wanted to have a shower.
For the next few weeks, I fluctuated between feeling extreme guilt for turning Theo’s world upside down (in hindsight he was totally fine, the steady stream of gifts from thoughtful family and friends were a good distraction) and feeling very sad. The rest of the time I just felt numb. It all felt so wrong. This beautiful little girl should have felt like my best friend. My soulmate. My partner in crime.
I should probably have seen someone about how I felt, but I didn’t for two reasons. Firstly, I’m incredibly stubborn and hate accepting when things are less than perfect. Secondly, I had depression several years ago and refused to consider that it could ever come back again. So I just turned a blind eye to how I felt. I did what was expected of me as Daisy’s mother. I fed her, changed her nappies and washed her. But that was it. I was just going through the motions without really engaging with her or trying to form much of a bond. We started giving her formula after two weeks. I was fed up with the pain and she wasn’t latching on very well. And I wanted Zac to be able to help with feeding so I could spend more time with Theo.
This went on for nearly four months. I became convinced that she preferred just about everyone else over me. Why wouldn’t she? They gave her actual eye contact for starters. I felt little bursts of love for her now and again, like when she smiled or laughed, but it was nothing like the overwhelming emotions I felt for Theo.
Then a couple of weeks ago everything changed. Every night Zac and I alternate which of the kids we put to bed. This particular night, I was reading Theo his story. I could hear Daisy start to cry whilst Zac was trying to feed her. I gently told Theo to wait in his bed so Mummy could see what was the matter with Daisy. Zac saw me coming into Daisy’s dimly lit bedroom and told me she had heard my voice as I read Theo his story and wanted me. He’s tried saying this before, but she’s always carried on crying when I’ve held her, probably sensing my stress. I picked up her up from Zac’s arms. She instantly relaxed and snuggled into me. I felt so surprised when I realised she actually wanted me there. Zac quietly slipped from the room to finish Theo’s bedtime story. I sat down on the rocking chair and showered her with kisses and started to cry happy tears of relief. I finally felt a bond with her. I realised all this time it had been slowly forming without me realising it. All those little smiles, all those giggles and funny incidents over the past four months had built up to this moment.
Biscuits Baby Wipes PANDASToday, I feel ready to share this experience. It’s been very difficult to write as no mother wants to admit that she has felt like this. I realise I still have a way to go with Daisy, but it’s fantastic knowing we are finally getting somewhere. Putting it into writing has helped me to accept that those tricky times are hopefully all in the past. I love both my children equally and with all my heart, but I love them in different ways. I’ve had longer to get to know Theo so of course my bond is naturally going to be stronger. But I realise that’s ok because I’m still getting to know Daisy. I absolutely adore her, and I’m so excited to see what adventures life has in store for the two of us.

I picture us going for coffee together when she’s my age, perhaps with children of her own, perhaps not. We might be laughing about something silly, or she might be confiding in me about the same things that used to worry me at her age. I really hope this becomes a reality one day. But for now, I’m just enjoying getting to know my future best friend in the making.


Find out more from Anna at her Blog

The Bonding Experience

I have been toying with the idea to write about my experience with postnatal depression and bonding problems. On writing this, I hope to highlight the importance of talking about a taboo such as this.

My earliest memory of knowing I didn’t want to be a mother was when I was eight years old. My mother was a child minder, as well as bringing up myself and my two brothers and family life was a struggle for her. She battled on a daily basis with breaking up arguments between my brothers and the children in her care, pushing a double push chair with two toddler’s sat inside enjoying the ride and cooking a hot meal every night that everyone agreed with and would enjoy. Being a mother appeared to be hard work and a life style choice that everyone seemed to adopt. Waiting with my mother, for my brothers to come out of school, I would look at the other mothers in the play ground and feel for them. Seeing them provoked a feeling of pity, sadness and loss. A loss of life. A life wasted on beckoning to every call and need from a child.

Seventeen years too young, is the age I fell pregnant with my first child. I felt on top of the world and special to be carrying a child within my womb.

My first scan fell on the seventh of January 2009, three days after my eighteenth birthday. My baby wriggled around on the screen and the midwife smiled sweetly and told me the baby is beautiful and healthy. Tears streamed down my face but not for the reasons the midwife was thinking. They were tears of sadness as I realised I didn’t want this baby. There were no feelings of love that rushed to me, no warming of the heart or thoughts such as ‘how lucky am I?.’ Inside I was numb and empty. My elated feelings of discovering my pregnancy were tainted as sadness contaminated me. I held a constant low feeling and I was unable to bond with my unborn baby.

As my baby grew within me stretch marks etched their ugly reminder on my body that I was soon to be a mother. All control I once had on my life and body had been snatched from me and I was terrified what the future held. Every day I would try to spark my maternal feelings. I would watch a show about teen mums and mirror their mannerisms and things they said in the hope I would then be fixed. Joining a mother and baby group also failed my expectations of a quick fix. I was hopeful talking about my pregnancy to other young mums would make it better and my bond would soon appear.
Suicidal thoughts crept in and I felt awful that my sad feelings had taken a sinister turn and all hope of being okay had now faded. This illness I was experiencing was winning and I had no control of it.

I began to accept I wasn’t a real woman. When I was made, my maternal instincts hadn’t been built within my heart. Being honest with myself in this brutal way made me feel sick with fear and cry so hard. I kept telling myself, ‘you can’t hate your baby forever.’

Nine hours and forty six minutes after arriving at the hospital I pushed my son into the world. He didn’t cry and was taken away to be resuscitated.
My baby took his first breath and I let out a sigh of relief. The midwife swaddled him in a blanket and I was asked if I wanted to hold him. No I thought. Yes I said. Placing him onto me the midwife stood back to admire this picture perfect moment. I looked down at him, so perfect, so at peace and innocent. Instead of smiling because I felt happy, I smiled weakly because if I didn’t smile I would cry. The flicker of instincts vanished now I knew he was safe. Oh god there is no bond I thought.

My baby was named Dougie.

My first night in hospital was horrible. I was taken to a postnatal ward and placed on a bed situated by a window. The midwife told me to buzz if I need anything and at that she pulled the curtain around me. Dougie was sleeping soundly and balloons and cards from family surrounded me painting a happy scene. Sitting on the bed in front of Dougie I let go of my emotions that I had been trying so hard to keep in. Putting my head in my hands I silently cried so no one would hear me. Dougie was here and now there is no going back. Bleary eyed because I had so many tears, I looked up to the sky and for the first time in my life I mouthed please God help me.

A month after Dougie was born I spoke about my problems for the first time to my aunt online. She promised to allow my secret to also become hers.
Three days after our conversation the home phone rang and my mothers normal perky tone turned into a whisper. I knew it was my aunt on the phone. Some minutes later my mother entered the room and sat on the sofa opposite to me. Turning to me she asked if I was okay. I considered lying but the urge to give up over powered me and I broke down in tears and repeated the words ‘I just don’t want him’ over and over again. My mother told me I would be okay and her and my dad will support me.

My feelings about being a mother didn’t improve. My mother helped me by having a health visitor come to the house. She told me I had Postnatal depression that had developed from Prenatal depression and it was important to see a doctor straight away. This was some closure as I knew a illness was living in me and once it goes I will then be the best mother in the world.

Postnatal depression became worse as each day went by and I started to feel suicidal and often wanted to run away. Over the years since Dougie was born I have sought help from two counsellors, prescribed anti depressants, spoken to a number of health care professionals and friends and family. Nobody had been able to help me.

Postnatal depression left a path of destruction and left me with a condition called bonding problems with an older child. My symptoms were similar to Postnatal depression and included being unable to show and receive affection, feeling no joy from being a parent and feeling detached from Dougie. The symptoms were difficult to experience and it broke my heart as well as Dougie’s. People seek fame and money but all I wanted was to love being a parent.

I had missed six years of mothers days, birthdays, and Christmases. Most importantly it had taken away everyday of my sons life from me. There was no joy or happiness. People complimented myself as a mother, however they didn’t see what was inside. Everyday I carried out the jobs a mother should do but I didn’t experience the emotions. Dougie felt alien to me and every so often in a bid to bond I would look through the memory box to try and spark that warm fuzziness of happiness within me but was only greeted by a blank emotion.

My blog is about how I recovered through my own techniques from a  condition that isn’t spoken about. Limited information is available and I strongly believe there are many sufferers that are too afraid to speak out. I hope my blog empowers women.

Welcome to The Bonding Experience Blog


(Original Content taken from The Butterfly Mother blog)


Yesterday we had the paddling pool out for the first time. Caterpillar had a lot of fun and then wanted to come and sit with me where I was watching from the picnic blanket. I wrapped him in a towel and we snuggled down and cuddled, looking at the sky and talking about the sun and clouds, singing songs and tickling each other. Not an unusual sight for a mother and toddler, but a moment perhaps more significant to me than it would be to someone who hasn’t suffered Postnatal Depression. Read More

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