When Bonding is Delayed


Lucia is our fifth baby; but in some ways she is our first. She is the first baby whose gender I did not know before her birthday. She is the first to be born early. She’s the first to spend time in special care. And she is the first of all my babies whom I did not connect with immediately at delivery.

Of course I loved her; I loved her before I met her. I loved her from the moment I got a positive pregnancy test. But that moment where it hits you that this is your baby, that you are looking down at a piece of your heart? That did not happen right away, and that was a first. I blame the unexpected circumstances of her birthday.

She was born five weeks early, on the Valentine’s Day of crazy snow and ice. It was only thanks to the ice that my husband was even present. That morning he started the drive to Charlotte to get on a flight that had been canceled the day before. I was having some pre-labor symptoms so I asked my neighbor to watch my older kids for just a few hours while I went into the doctor’s office for some quick reassurance.

I was positive it was just a false alarm and did not worry at all that my contractions were getting stronger. Less than an hour after arriving at the doctor’s office I called my husband, who was already at the gate waiting to board the plane.

“Don’t get on the plane.”

“What did the doctor say?” he asked.

“The doctor said ‘don’t get on the plane.'”

I was admitted to the hospital, still thinking I’d be sent home on bed rest. But contractions weren’t stopping, the baby’s heart rate kept dropping, and it became clear that we were going to have a baby that day.

This baby was coming whether I was ready or not.

This brought on an onslaught of emotion that wasn’t all excitement about a new baby. I was scared that the baby would be early. I felt cheated out of the last weeks of pregnancy, the anticipation of which I actually enjoy. I had dropped my 21 month old baby off for what I thought was an hour and the next time I saw her she would be a big sister. Had I hugged all of the kids good-bye?

“I hope those are happy tears,” one nurse said.

No. I’m not ready for this.

“Yes,” I lied.

We laughed and cried in surprise when she was born because she was not the boy we were expecting. I got to hold her for a minute before she was taken away to Special Care. My husband followed them and I was left alone in the delivery room feeling…underwhelmed. It was surreal. I called my mom who was stuck in the Atlanta airport; talked to my dad. I posted a picture to Facebook and texted a few friends.

“Why are you texting back? Didn’t you just have a baby?” And all I could think was what baby? I don’t see a baby. I felt fine. Just happy and fine.

My husband came back in and told me she would be okay and we picked her name. Then I was taken to my room. On the way I was wheeled into the special care nursery to see her. She was tiny and beautiful, and I loved her, but still it did not hit me that she was mine.

At 4 a.m. I walked myself and some pumped milk down to the nursery. By this time Lucia was off of her oxygen, so the nurse placed her in my arms and left us.

And that’s when it happened…

Like a flood, love poured over me in waves as I looked at her and the beeps and sounds of the nursery fell away and I thought, finally mine. She was awake and looking at me so I cried and sang to her and talked to her and pulled her close, wanting to curl her into myself, back inside where she was still supposed to be.

It wasn’t until I held her alone in my arms several hours after birth that I felt the true love of motherhood for her.

Anyone who has had to leave a baby in the hospital can probably imagine the next two weeks. I was so happy to have her here finally. I hated having to go to the hospital to see her. I hated having to leave my older kids at home. I loved that the hours at the hospital were just for her. When I was home I felt guilty for leaving her. When I was at the hospital I felt guilty for leaving the others. I ached for her to come home. I worried about the day she would come home. I would hold her in the hospital, then I would come home and hold the others, and then my husband would hold me while I cried.

Then, finally, homecoming. I held her all the time  to keep her warm and close. I held her to make up for all the times that I couldn’t. I held her because she was mine, even though at first it took me a few hours to register it. I held her against my heart, and most days that’s where you’ll find her still.

lucia and mommy
Now I can’t imagine her any other place but close to me.

Did bonding take time after your child was born? 

laura ramisLaura Ramis used to teach seventh grade English and drama, but after her first was born she switched her attention to the preschool crowd. At the moment she works from home helping to develop a local Spanish immersion program and working as a freelance educational content writer. Originally from Puerto Rico, she and her husband moved to Lexington 7 years ago. They have five children, ages 11, 10, 8, 2 and (almost) 1. You can find her gluing rhinestones on dance costumes or watching her boys play soccer. She’s the one with a baby wrapped on her back.


  1. It took a little over one month for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her the moment I found out I was pregnant and the moment she was born. But, when I looked at her the very first time, I didn’t see any evidence of me in her at all. The child birth event was all so dream like too. I had an emergency C-Section because of a very large baby, my high blood pressure and the possibility of a placental abruption, so that was probably a major factor. Anyways, I am a very fair skinned redhead and she was born with dark hair and skin that looked like she already had a fun day at the beach. I was like who is this child?! I am from a lineage of redheads. Me, My father, his mother, her mother, etc… I only assumed that my baby would be one. And it took me by more surprise than her sex, which we didn’t know as well. I think the turning point was right after I went back to work at 6 weeks. I felt like a part of me was missing. I worked 20 days straight to catch up (not by choice) and I would cry my entire 45 minute commute home wanting to hold her so much. I love that girl with every ounce of my being.

  2. my daughter is an adult now, she’s 23, but after she was born, I did not bond with her immediately although I didn’t tell anyone that because I didn’t want to be looked down upon or criticized, after I had her in the hospital the nurses would keep asking for me to hold her if I wanted to see her I just told them no, I tried the breast feeding bond, that didn’t work, she wouldn’t take to the nipple, I suppose that is why I was so depressed because I wanted to have that awesome bond like most mothers’ had with their babies, when we didn’t I thought I was doing something wrong, after being released from the hospital, took her home laid her in her crib and watched her mostly, I would change her, bathe her and bottle feed her, slowly we started connecting it was probably after the 1st week before I snapped out of it and realized my baby needed me, I was a single mom, no one else would be taking care of her, as she grew up we were always close and still are til this day, I can’t imagine my life without her.

  3. My oldest baby was born at 24 weeks. I didn’t get to even see him for 7 hours after birth, when I did, I was told to spend as much time with him as I could, as he wouldn’t be here for long.

    I sat by his humidi crib with my hand through the hole for hours, just looking at him, trying to burn visions of him in my brain because from what I was told, we could have had just hours left.

    Hours turned into a day and they kicked me out, back to my room to get showered and to eat something, it was horrible. I pumped religiously. My sons father couldn’t bare to see him like that, so he left the hospital and didn’t come back. I convinced my parents I was fine, and they went home.

    I wasn’t. This little person I’d had a whole 24 weeks with, that was now here and fighting his biggest struggle, was happening because of me, that’s what my brain screamed at me.

    A day turned into days, days turned into weeks and finally, after 4 weeks of being in a humidi crib, I was able to hold him for the first time. I can’t express how that felt. I had bonded as much as I could with him before that, but feeling his heart beating against my skin was something else entirely.

    Now he’s almost 15, when I think about it I can still feel the pain of it all. I’m proud we got through it, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  4. I didn’t bond immediately with my second or my third. I didn’t even realize when I started to love and adore them. I think my son (2nd) was 6 months old. My daughter? I’m not sure. I had postpartum depression after all 3 pregnancies. I think it made adjusting tough. But I don’t stress. We have our whole lives to develop the amazing bond we will always share as a family.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here