I’m baaaaack! Let’s talk bonding.
I’m officially back to work following my maternity leave. For the last few weeks I keep thinking, I should write another blog post. I thought after my first session, I would be inspired to write something, and yet nothing comes to mind. As I’m lost thinking of something, I look down at my 8 week old baby as she sweetly nurses, giving me those sleepy, milky smiles every now and again, and I’m reminded how love and bonding starts here.
Caring for a baby is hard, but bonding is quite easy. (Of course, if it isn’t, postpartum depression may be present, and while this is nothing to be ashamed of, I encourage you to seek help). But back to my original point - bonding is a natural process that occurs between a parent and a child that unfolds during infancy. Bonding is about feeling close, feeling loved, and feeling safe. In the baby’s case, it’s also about having his or her needs met. For the parent, it’s about responding to the baby’s needs. This can be the challenging part - trying to figure out what those needs are. Baby cries and parent tries different things until baby calms. Sometimes it’s as simple as a diaper change, giving a bottle, burping or bouncing baby. Other times, it seems as if nothing works. As a mom of 5, I’d like to think that I’ve gotten *some* things figured out when it comes to caring for a baby. But this most recent baby of ours has decided to test my parenting skills and many days she proves to me I definitely have more to learn. What I’m learning is that sometimes it’s not me DOING something that she needs, as much as me BEING...me being close, me being present, me being calm. There are many times the only way I can calm her is to pull her close, let her nurse, and just hold her. I’m not really doing anything, but I am being. And this is bonding, this is unconditional love. And this need is as important as food.
This is absolutely true in adult, romantic relationships too. How many times do we get frustrated trying to figure out what our partner needs when they’re “crying in distress”? We try all the things and can’t figure out why they don’t work. We try to fix it logically - if I do this, then my partner won’t be mad/our relationship will be good, etc. Again, many times it’s not about doing. What your partner wants most from you is YOU. It’s about being. It’s about pulling your partner in close and holding them - emotionally and physically. It’s about creating a secure and safe connection, it’s about unconditional love, it’s about bonding. Don’t get me wrong, doing is important for a relationship (I.e., planning date night, compromising, etc), but being, bonding is essential.
If I had more time I would explain the role hormones play in bonding (oxytocin is often called the “cuddle hormone”), but I need to go BE with my baby.