Did anyone else worry about the bond with their second child?

I found it very difficult to bond with my baby at the beginning as the onset of PP started more or less straight away after giving birth. I didn't really realise that I had had a baby as I was so poorly and the baby went to live with my partner and his mum for a few days. I still feel very guilty about this. It worries me that if I have another baby and do not become poorly that I will develop a closer bond with my second child more than my first. Does anyone have any thoughts on this that have gone onto have other children and not experienced PP with subsequent pregnancies?

xxx

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  • Hi EmmiLou,

    I can empathise with these worries and you're not alone in these thoughts. It's very cruel that we often feel guilty about losing that bond in the newborn time, yet it wasn't our fault. It certainly wasn't your fault that you didn't bond, it was this awful illness!

    I too did not bond well with my first child when he was born, because the onset of PP was within hours of the birth. I hardly spent any time with my son in the first few days after his birth and had probably only held him a handful of times before I was admitted to an acute psychiatric ward 5 days postpartum. I spent 3 weeks on the ward and was separated from my newborn. There were no special arrangements made for me to visit with my baby to encourage a bond, and so I only had him visit twice, afraid for his safety on the ward (I was also afraid of his safety around me because I had such strong delusions). I still feel a sense of loss for that time apart from him.

    Because of that separation and because of the trauma of the PP, when I finally came home, I hardly recognised my baby boy and was very awkward around him. I'd say it took me well over a year to gain a full bond with my son and to be able to tell him with feeling that I loved him.

    The strange thing is, I actually feel that I now have a very strong bond with my first, perhaps made stronger because of what we went through to form the relationship we have now. He's now 5 years old and no-one would be able to tell that the two of us had such a shaky start, as I imagine it is with you and your child.

    When I became pregnant with our second child, I did worry about how I would feel once he was born. Would I love him more or less that our first? PP was mercifully prevented and it felt like a miracle that I was well after he was born. We bonded straight away and I could tell and feel the difference between this and straight after my first birth. For a while, I did feel as though I was closer to my second, but I think that was complicated by the fact that we nearly lost him to critical illness and he was in hospital for weeks. It was hard to keep both my new baby and my toddler in mind at the same time, and try to keep a second PP at bay!

    But as life got back to normal, having that special bond with my second from the start, actually increased my bond with my first. I kept thinking "This is what I would have been like with you had I not had PP". I realised that underneath the PP and the subsequent depression, I had loved my firstborn. It made me realise I was a good mother and it freed me from some of the guilt. Sometimes during special one on one time, in my mind I'd pretend he was a baby again and give him all the love and hugs I didn't back then (especially at night-time cuddles). He of-course was oblivious but it helped me.

    So, I think the bond with my first has definitely strengthened over time and stands up to the bond I have with my second. And, there is something special between us because he was my first and together we survived PP! With my second, we have something special too - he's my survivor who we had to watch fight for his life in NICU and he taught me I could be a natural mother. Perhaps with each and every child we have, no matter how many, there is a special individual bond that is unique to them?

    Thanks for talking about this openly EmmiLou - in motherhood bonding with our baby is taken for granted and NOT bonding is a very taboo subject.

    Take care,

    Natasha x

  • Hi EmmiLou

    Just to echo what HopeafterPP has said really. I think we do worry a huge amount about what our feelings will be towards a second child, will we feel guilty if it's an easier and more natural bond? To some extent I think all mums (PP or not) worry about how #2 is going to affect their love/bond with #1 and then in reality it's just something that develops organically over those first months.

    I feel super-close to #1 as we made it through such an awful time (she is 7 now), and I feel a delight in #2 because she was our 'step of faith' baby (she is 2 now). Although her first year was not plain sailing at all, I'm still glad she is in our lives. Like any siblings they are special for different reasons and in their own personalities. Seeing them together has been an absolute privilege, as to be honest I thought PP would rob me of trying for another baby.

    Thank you for opening such an important discussion.

    N

  • Hi There

    I didn't bond well with my first baby as my psychosis started soon after she was born.

    I bonded instantly with my second baby even though I had PPP after he was born.

    I dare not even think about getting pregnant again but every woman is different and you could well have another baby without this terrible illness.

    If I were you I would speak to your psychiatrist if you have one and share your concerns with them.

    If you have had PPP in the past they maybe able to treat you early before you show any signs next time.

    Good Luck

    Best Wishes Poulson

  • Hi EmmiLou,

    It's such a scary thought isn't it, all the reports out there are that women have wonderful childbirth experiences and joyous (if a bit sleep deprived) early days with their babies, and then PP strikes and we feel somehow robbed of something we feel we are entitled to. I remember being separated from my baby and worrying that he would not know who I was. When he came to be with me in the MBU, I had a lot of support from staff and my husband to help me bond. The staff also arranged for the baby massage therapist from a nearby hospital to come in and see us so that I could practice techniques and spend more time close to him (I was never much good at the baby massaging though!)

    I don't know what the answer would be for a 2nd baby and the worries that you have but you are not alone, and it's something I've thought about, although we only have the 1 child at the moment. I think the suggestions from others about talking it through with as many people as you want and feel able to is a good one. Also to make sure that your previous experience is somehow "flagged up" if you go on to have another pregnancy as well as having some plans, whether formal or informal, of how you would like to be treated if you were to become ill again might be things to explore.

    Out of a horrible experience, I know I am very lucky to have a lovely bond with my son and the time that he spent with just my husband, because I was too ill, has also given them a close bond too. Hope this helps in some way, take care

  • I most certainly did and still do to be honest if I compare to my first baby...it's ever growing but it certainly feels very different, I often morn for all I lost with her but then have to kick myself and remember what we went through and things could have ended far worse. I think that every day my bond does grow stronger and I just need to have time with her, I find it difficult how clingy she is with my hubby, but then I was in an acute ward for such a long time it's not surprising. I love her very much though and I'll keep working at it xxx