A Mother’s Bond

When my son Logan was born it wasn’t perfect like I had envisioned. It was terrifying and painful.

My husband, mother and I planned a drug free natural birth. My mother comes from El Salvador and her mother had 18 children naturally. My mother had 5 natural births. My sister had a natural birth. It was a rite of passage for the women in my family. I was ready.

But from the moment we learned we were expecting, my pregnancy showed difficulties. I was crippled by morning sickness. I couldn’t even go outside because the sun made me sick. I lost over 30 lbs my first trimester. At our first ultrasound they found a benign growth in my uterus. We were told not to have any sex during pregnancy, which added extra tension in my relationship.

We were married right after we began our third trimester. The whole time I was a little detached to my pregnancy because I had lost a child years before in a previous relationship. When we found out we were having a boy, my husband cried. I panicked. I’d always wanted a little boy but what if he didn’t make it? Every morning I would wake up and count his kicks.

The week before I was due, they told us we might have to consider a C-section in case Logan wouldn’t come on his own and also because he was measuring too big for my body. But we stayed positive. The doctor convinced me to have a membrane sweep, a way to induce labor so as not to be overdue. When I stood up after the membrane sweep (which is one of the worst pain I have ever endured. Well after labor and having a C-section) I felt a little leakage. Success!

The doctor sent us to the E.R. We were extremely excited. But my son wasn’t ready. They scheduled us to be induced a couple of days after his due date.

That Friday, I had a fever of 101 and apparently my contractions were pretty intense but I didn’t feel a thing. At 10 pm my water broke. It was green. There was fear on my husband’s and mother’s faces. My husband found a doctor immediately, but they said not to worry and that there are proper procedures so the infant doesn’t swallow Meconium upon birth. My mother and husband were concerned. I still couldn’t feel a thing. I also wasn’t opening up.

My doctors came in and told my husband and mother I would need an epidural and Pitocin to help my contractions come faster and stronger so I could open up. After the epidural things got fuzzy. I was nauseous, drugged up and scared. My mother was very disappointed.

Around noon that Saturday, my doctor came in to check on me. They stopped the epidural and I could feel my body being split in two. I was told to “push.” I pushed for four hours. Over and over. My mother holding my hand, my husband waiting for his son.

By 6:30 p.m., my son had become stuck in the birth canal. He was upside down. And from all the pushing, his head had begun to swell. At this point, I was throwing up and losing consciousness. My mother looked at me and asked why I was crying, I looked at her and cried that I didn’t have the strength. I had failed my mother and the women before me. I had failed myself.

The doctors came in. They let my husband know our best choice now was a C-section. I spoke to my mother in Spanish. Letting her know what the plan was. She had tears in her eyes and I knew I had let her down.

The nurse came in with the gown my husband was going to wear. And we told my mom everything was going to be okay. We had plenty of time. But my blood pressure dropped and they could no longer find Logan’s heartbeat.

I let go of my husband’s hand as they rushed me in to the operating room. My mother’s face will haunt me forever. No mother ever wants to lose their child. I counted as I felt them open me.

Logan was born at 7:32 pm on Saturday Jan. 25th. But the first time I saw him I wasn’t in love. I could hear crying in the distance but I was shaking and shot up full of morphine that I couldn’t remember I had a son. I asked whose baby was crying, and the nurse said, “Yours. Would you like to meet him?”

She held him up. He was stoic. An exact replica of his father. Blonde hair, white skin, blue eyes. Is this how mother’s felt after birth? Who was this small stranger?

They took us into a waiting room and my mother came in. I thanked her for everything she had ever done for me and finally understood her pain. My father came in and held Logan. He was infatuated. Then finally, my husband. He kissed me and cried. There was his son and wife. He feared he had lost us. It was over an hour before Logan was placed on my chest. He latched on but the morphine had dried me up. He laid there calmly and I was afraid. I didn’t feel like a mother.

When we were put in our room, I was useless. My body had gone through both labors and just shut down. I slept through the night and my husband took over the first diaper and feeding duties. When I awoke I cried. I cried from pain. I cried because I didn’t make milk. I cried because I didn’t feel like he was mine. My husband went home to shower and eat while my family sat with the new member.

On the third day, the doctors found a mild infection in my son’s blood. They took him away. I cried and didn’t want to eat. My husband held me and even slept in bed with me. I wanted my baby. I wanted my homecoming with Logan. The clichéd wheelchair push out of the hospital with flowers and balloons in tow. But that wasn’t the case. I was released before he could come home from the NICU.

That drive was the most heartbreaking ride home ever. I felt just like I did after my first miscarriage. My body ached. My mind hurt. My heart was broken. I was heading home empty-handed. Edmund, my husband, saw Logan every single day. He took him my breast milk. He held him and kissed him. I called every hour to check on him.

I beat myself up every day. It was my fault. I was a failure. What kind of woman can’t give birth naturally?

The day he finally came home I was excited.

He didn’t cry. He was quiet and always searching for something familiar. I sang to him when I fed him. I took refuge in our breastfeeding moments. I wanted us to bond. I wanted him to cry out for me. But he only cried for his papa. I felt betrayed. Boys are supposed to love their mommy. But not this boy. He rarely cried and hardly made noise. I didn’t feel close to him or attached.

Every day was a constant battle with myself. I hated myself for not instantly falling in love with him. For not being crazy obsessed with him the way other moms were with their kids. I was resentful of his attachment to his father. I was depressed. I was too busy wallowing in what went wrong instead of focusing on how precious this time is.

Could it be that I didn’t love him? Maybe it was because he looked more like his father than me. Maybe because we didn’t get to have that instant delivery room bond. Maybe because during those first crucial couple of days we were separated.

Each day I spend with him and learn more about him, I realize we have a different bond. He calls out to me now when he’s hungry. He watches me to see what I find funny. He dances when he can tell mommy is sad. He hugs me and sometimes if I’m lucky, he gives me a kiss. Logan is strange and silly. I love him with everything that makes me who I am. We might not have had a strong beginning but with each day our bond grows stronger.

Not every mother has an initial bond with their child. Even though this mom had a difficult labor, she ultimately overcame the pain and bonded with her son.