What If You Don't Bond at First Sight?
But what if you look at this red-faced, wrinkled little stranger -- who is bawling at the top of his lungs to boot -- and you don't feel overcome with love? Don't panic, says Nancy Mork Bakker, a mental health specialist at the Erikson Institute Fussy Baby Network in Chicago -- your reaction is completely normal too. "So many moms have this expectation that they will instantly fall in love with their baby," she says. "If that doesn't happen, they feel they've failed." For example, Vicki Glembocki, who wrote the memoir The Second Nine Months (Da Capo) about her extended bonding experience with daughter Blair, says, "I completely believed that a switch would flick on inside my body when I gave birth, but it didn't -- and I had a huge sense of guilt that I wasn't bonding right away." It took months for Glembocki to feel deeply connected to her fussy baby, who cried for hours every day. "There were some special moments, but overall I felt like I was living meltdown to meltdown," she says. "Little did I know that thousands of women have experienced similar feelings."
Bonding can even be a different experience with each baby. "With my second daughter, it took a while," admits Melissa Leonard, of Harrison, New York. "They were only 14 months apart, and I felt guilty taking time away from my first." What finally got them together? "She was a very congested baby, always sneezing and coughing like a little kitty. Taking care of her late at night and singing to her really bonded us."