Gooood morning! Julian and I are back from teaching at the gym. I have him in the highchair drinking some coconut water (shocked he seems to like it!) and eating “shtawbys” or as we know them, strawberries. The poor guy has been sick (again) and I’ve been breaking out the humidifier at night for him since he’s got a bad cough and tons of congestion in his sinuses. Can spring be here already? We’ve been hit hard this year. Or maybe that’s just life with a kid.
Today, I wanted to throw it back a bit and talk about some early bonding experiences I had with Julian.
Newborn days are hard. Precious for sure, but hard. As I look back to my newborn days with Julian a few words come to mind. Exhaustion. Confusion. Struggle. Love. Pain. Wonder.
I know I sound like a broken record, but my now joyous and lighthearted son, Julian had a bad case of colic and acid reflux as a newborn. On top of that I was a new mom with no idea what I was doing. I was just trying to hold on for the ride and do my best. Survival mode was the only mode I knew for a very long time. I mean that’s totally normal, but ours lasted for 9 months. Because he was so miserable and upset all the time, I pretty much was too and those precious moments that you hear described about the early days of baby life just were really hard to come by for us.
We got through it though, day by day, night by night. Routines never worked for us because of his long crying spells when he’d be in pain so I had to let him sleep when he would or he’d never have slept at all. Much to my dismay. But the months passed and slowly every day began feeling less like a game of Russian Roulette.
All of this to say (and it hurts me even still to admit this) I had a hard time bonding to my infant son for, like, a really long time.
Maybe there was some postpartum depression happening there, but I say it was situational. Had Julian been a happy, calm baby that slept (even decent) and fell into a great routine I think things would have been different.
Of course I loved him nonetheless. In rare moments he would smile up at me with this amazing huge smile and it gave me hope that there was a happy little person in there waiting to get out once he felt better and grew more.
In those days, distractions were key if I had any shot of breaking him out of that crying. One thing I found, eventually, that kept him calm and us both in a bit of a routine was bath time. The undressing, the tub on the kitchen sink, the water and the smell of lavender baby wash. It was all so different to him. He truly began enjoying his bath times which meant so did I.
A happy 3.5 month old Julian at bath time.
I know, looking at this picture it’s hard to think a guy that looks so happy that could be so miserable most of the time but believe me. He was no joke. These moments bathing Julian gave us some pretty hard to come by quiet and joyful breaks when the days and nights were filled with so much anguish. These were some of our earliest bonding moments together and I always look back on them and smile to myself.
Now bath time bonding looks a lot different. Jeff usually brings Julian upstairs after dinner and gives him a bath in the tub as part of the bedtime routine. It gives the two of them a chance to play and connect after spending all day with just me. Julian loves it even more as they splash and play with bath toys.
Julian at 1 year loving bath time with his dad
And on the real, I would have to say that all the hard moments we went through, ALLLL the hard moments, probably were the ones that sealed our bond the most. All that rocking, bouncing, swaying in the wee hours of the night, the breastfeeding on demand, just being there together sealed his trust in me and forced me to get to know our son on a whole deeper level.
But those small, happy moments like at bath time, or when he was really tiny and fell asleep on me after nursing in the afternoon, got us through the dark days. Seeing his smile was everything and I am sure Julian seeing his mom smile was good for him, too.
Thank you to The Honest Company for inspiring the idea behind this post.
Moms out there, what were little day to day activities that turned into real bonding moments with your babies?