Michelle's Front Page

Broken Bond

February 18th, 2009

Something about Tessa’s behavior has been ringing a little alarm in the back of my head for a week or so. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. She seemed to be going out of her way to avoid eye contact some of the time. While eating, she would rather stare at the ceiling than look at me. When I picked her up, she no longer swung her arm over my shoulder and snuggled in. She was twisting away instead. Her behavior hadn’t changed otherwise. If it wasn’t for my hyper awareness of attachment with Sabrina, I would have probably chalked it up to a bit of individuation (that’s right – I threw a little really mis-used Jung at you…I still owe about $1,538 worth grad school tuition for every one of the few facts that reside in the depths of my mommy brain so I should get some mileage out of them – by the time it is paid for I will have forgotten all of them). But today it slammed into my brain – my baby isn’t so attached right now.

She used to be attached to the point of appendage. But a variety of things have happened recently – the biggest being that she gave up nursing entirely after we had to start supplimenting with formula. Within a couple of weeks, my supply was gone despite pumping. That has had a snowball effect in many areas. We no longer snuggle in bed in the morning because I’m not trying to catch a cat nap after nursing her at 5:30. We don’t spend nearly as much time focused on each other because she eats more at each feeding and therefore has fewer feedings. This new found freedom for me and growing independence for her has led to her spending time in her exersaucer or high chair while I do laundry or work out or do dishes or shower when I used to do these things mostly while she slept. She is more mobile and therefore a little harder to hold onto while I do things with my free hand. I haven’t been wearing her much because she gets pissed off – the Mei Tei forces her to have her face in my chest and she doesn’t like the sling/pouch. And out of guilt for the attention that I’ve diverted from Sabrina, I’ve been working harder at spending time with Sabrina. All of this has apparently added up to breaking down our bond.

I was heart broken and a little panicky when I realized this today. I felt like such a failure. Being a mom is my job right now, how could I have not realized what was happening?

Knowing that fixing it was all that mattered, I immediately reverted to Attachment Parenting 101. Of course, I can’t return to breastfeeding but I’m working on other things. I wore her this afternoon in the Bjorn which I hate but she liked much better than the Mei Tei (which she loved up until very recently) and the sling. Instead of working out, showering, and eating lunch which is my normal routine these days while Sabrina naps, I played and cuddled on the bed with Tessa.

I am desperate to restore our bond – and quickly. Funny, I never dreamed this would be an issue with my biological child. And I probably wouldn’t have recognized it if not for Sabrina.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 10:39 pm and is filed under parenting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Broken Bond”

  1. carla Says:

    Ive read this a few times, Michelle, and have no insights or tips to add.
    But what I did realize after the rereads is youre right.
    because IMO we are simply animals who to have the gift of instinct and we KNOW what the answers are (and the questions) when we listen to our intuition.

    (if that makes sense).

    and the final sentence? so powerful.

  2. Melany Says:

    You’re a great mom for paying such close attention and reacting appropriately to whatever comes up. I think you’ll be amazed too at how quickly you and Tessa start feeling that bond again with your efforts. I’ll share some more via email.

  3. Michelle Says:

    Actually, I see a small improvement after just 24 hours so I am hopeful we can turn it around quickly.

  4. Dawn from old AB Says:

    Well, I have a tendency to feel guilty when something seems amiss in Spencer’s life too but if I’ve read your post correctly you’re beating yourself up because you’re now able to do the laundry when Tessa is awake, you are no longer breast feeding, you aren’t wearing her enough and you’re paying more attention to Sabrina… Truly you are a terrible mother. (That was sarcasm) It’s great that you are very aware of your childrens’ needs but I think you should cut yourself some slack. This is pretty trite but no one is Supermom. Even if we do everything right something might still go wrong in the next 18yrs. Also, with Spencer as he got older he went through different phases, I think I was the most annoyed when he was more into my husband than me. So, to me this does sound like it could just be a phase and it sounds like you’re sort of… overreacting. No offense meant, but it seems like we are bombarded every day in commercials, and the news with things to make us hyper-anxious about nothing. Anyhow… just my 2 cents. All the best~

  5. april Says:

    Long time lurker, 2nd time poster–I have to agree somewhat with Dawn’s comments above… sounds like Tessa is just growing up… or maybe at that moment, she was just really interested in the ceiling, or maybe she twisted away from you because there was something more interesting to look at… I read your blog all the time and from what I can tell, you’re a wonderful mother. I have 2 daughters too… an almost-6-month old and an almost 4 year old… the 4 yr old is super attached right now (Mommy is her favorite person… daddy? who’s daddy?). I too have started to put my baby in her exersaucer or on the floor or bed while I do things… she enjoys the outlook and enjoys playing now that she’s getting older. As you yourself stated… her independence is growing… you have to grow with her! Your bond will never be broken! You’re her mother, you love her, you take care of her… if you weren’t doing these things, then I’d say you have cause to worry. Sorry for being so long, but i felt I needed to comment… don’t beat yourself up!!!! You’re a wonderful mom!

  6. Hadyn Says:

    Dude, Xiabe is still so freakin’ attached, I could use a little independence …

  7. Burgh Baby Says:

    That has to be heart breaking. Although, I suspect you are your own worst critic, so it may not be as bad you think. I know for a fact you are a kick-ass mom, and maybe her new found sense of independence is coming across as something that it’s not.


    And, can you sell me a little of that independence thing? Cause I can’t breath without Alexis demanding to know why? how? what for? can I do it? can I touch it? can I jam my hand in your mouth and stop it? HUH?

  8. Vanessa Says:

    So sorry to hear about this but unfortunately I have no advice!! Just keep up the good work mom and she’ll do fine!! HUGS!!

  9. Ansley Says:

    You know, it’s interesting. I think that most of us who have adopted are hyper-aware of attachment and that it’s not something that, once achieved, can be taken for granted. I recently read a book called Playful Parenting that was a pretty good reminder of that fact. The author discusses the problems we run into in connecting with our kids and staying connected through difficult times. It wasn’t an adoption book; he’s talking about all kids. (The book was longer than it needed to be, and he seriously needed a good editor so I’m boiling down the essence.) He contends that a lot of problems with our kids as they grow, change, and eventually become obnoxious teenagers occur when we lose that connection, or attachment is interrupted for periods of time. That sounds kind of like a big “Duh” when I put it that way, I know.

    His suggestion is remembering to be playful with them in various, age and situation appropriate ways. Personally, I know that when my daughter gets whiny, clingy, demanding, etc. she’s frequently reacting directly to my stress level. Of course, she’s also causing my stress when she’s acting that way so we find ourselves in a big ‘ol nasty mood cycle for an hour or so until I can back up and find a way to have fun with her again. It’s amazing how quickly she responds to that.

    I’m not exactly sure why I’m sharing all that in response to your post, but something made me think of it.

    All this being said, I suspect you are being too hard on yourself. The fact that you are and that you immediately addressed what you see as the problem makes you a thoughtful, responsive, caring and unselfish mom. Pretty good, I’d say.


  10. Mera Says:

    Girl, we must seriously have similar brainwaves or something like that. Today for some reason while Gabby was “napping” (aka time alone in her room playing, napping happens no more) Hunter woke up, I fed him, took him upstairs and got online almost robotically. Suddenly out of nowhere I thought to myself, he is six months old, SIX months have happened this fast, play with your baby. I just got offline and played and snuggled with him. I just couldn’t get enough of him today. They seriously grow up so fast and with two, time somehow moves at the speed of light and I realized that I’m not bonding with him as much as I should when I have time with just him. Its hard, but thank goodness we can cue in to those moments, some parents can’t, don’t notice or don’t really care.

    I bet she really enjoyed having time with you Michelle. You are an awesome Mom!!

  11. Bobbi Says:

    You are such a great Mom!!! I am sure that she will benefit from your time together. But, as they get older they often are much more interested in their surroundings than us, so it could just be a phase. Finding a balance is always a struggle. Remember to continue to take time for yourself. That is also important.

    Glad you are seeing improvement. Don’t be too hard on yourself

  12. Anne Says:

    I agree with everyone else, you are doing a great job! It sounds like you are so tuned in to both girls and know exactly what they need. As the last commenter said, some parents just can’t/won’t do that. Lucky girls, and lucky you to have 2 such beautiful daughters:)

  13. Rhonda Says:

    You are a great mom and girl, it’s tough enough with one child but having two……….takes alot of out you and I give you big kudos for the working out! Way to go, now throw some energy my way!!!

  14. Jacki Hoover Says:

    This worked with both girls. Maybe a little too well. The bjorn can break your back. Ergo is nice when cooking as she is on your back. Tegan can still sit in the ergo. Although I swear by the ring sling. especially now that Tessa is so up and down. I used to wear Tegan in the sling on the bus until she was 2 1/2. I like the mei tai too. I always wanted a butterfly but way too expensive. I have a friend who makes the sling and it can be your own personal “flair”. Good luck

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