A moment that lasts forever
Those seconds when you feel your first real connection with your baby are unforgettable, whenever or wherever they happen…
Seven mums share their baby-bonding stories
‘I felt a pure, intense rush of love’
‘When I got the call from the hospital to say they were ready for me to come in to be induced, as planned, I burst into tears. Just that morning I had dropped my eldest daughter, Amelie, off
Harriet Quinnear, 30, a full-time mum, lives in Chelmsford with husband Kevin, and daughters Darcey, one, and Amelie, four
at pre-school, and now I was feeling a strange emotion, almost like guilt. Unbeknown to Amelie, her life was about to change forever. How could I ever love another child as much as I did her? Sixteen hours later, lying back on the hospital bed and out of breath after a final push, I held out my arms. I’d been pushing for 45 minutes and now, finally, the moment was here. The midwife gently placed my baby girl on my bare chest and I looked down at her squishy, beautiful face. Eyes wide open, she gazed up at me, and I felt a pure, intense rush of love. The emotion flooded my body – it was such a physical reaction. I burst into tears of love, pride and relief. Somehow I instantly knew I didn’t have to share my love between this baby and Amelie; instead, my heart grew bigger. And a few hours later, when my mum brought Amelie to the hospital to meet Darcey, I watched Amelie shower her sister with kisses. I knew that there in front of me was my entire world, and I felt like I was going to burst with love.’
‘When I heard his heartbeat, a wave of emotion engulfed me’
‘Before I became pregnant, I had no expectations of when or even if I’d bond with my baby – it just wasn’t something I’d thought about yet. But as the midwife placed the Doppler over my freshly gelled bump, I held my breath as I suddenly thought, “What if my baby’s heartbeat can’t be traced?” Within a few seconds, an unmistakable boom-boom sound filled the room and I gasped, beaming at my partner, Lekan. As I listened to my baby’s surprisingly fast heartbeat, a wave of emotion engulfed me. What I could hear was proof of an actual life inside me. Although I couldn’t see my baby and I hadn’t yet experienced him move, at that moment
Gabriella Dadzie, 28, a business owner, lives in southeast London with partner Lekan, and son Jeremiah, 16 weeks
I him, there inside. And as his little heartbeat carried on, I remember thinking that my baby was the only person who knew what my heartbeat sounded like, too. And that special connection between us cemented.
It triggered a whole new relationship between me and my unborn baby. Every day as my bump got bigger, I talked to him. “I can’t wait to meet you,” I’d say. “You’re so active, I think you’ll be a footballer.” Lekan chatted to him, too, and we played him music. We were like a little family already. And as the weeks went by and I could feel him move, each interaction caused him to wriggle, like he was communicating with us. I’d never have believed it had I not experienced it for myself.
My labour was long, and I ended up having a c-section, so couldn’t hold baby Jeremiah for a couple of hours. But when he was finally placed in my arms, I felt like I knew him already. It was beautiful. The connection we’d formed when I first heard his heartbeat had continued and strengthened, and Jeremiah and I were familiar and close to one another from the very start.’
‘As Joshua snuggled into me, an odd feeling slowly crept up on me’
‘“You’ll love the baby, but you may not bond straight away,” my partner Hayley warned me when I was pregnant, following IVF. Hayley had given birth to Joshua’s brothers, Matthew and James, years earlier, so I knew she was speaking from experience. But to be honest I didn’t take any notice – I was sure I’d bond with our baby straightaway. And when Joshua was born six weeks early, sure enough, I bonded with him, loved him and cared for him. But when he was three weeks old, Joshua developed hypothermia and was readmitted to hospital. He was still so tiny! As I sat in the hospital, holding Joshua close to keep him warm, he snuggled into me and I felt his body relax as he started to settle. He let out a big contented breath, as if to express how happy he was. And an odd feeling slowly crept up on me. I can only describe it as a physical sensation – a warmth that started from the outside of my body and gradually radiated inwards. What I was feeling was an intense, all-consuming love for my son. I was overcome by a need to protect him. Basking in the glow of that moment, I remembered Hayley’s words and understood what she meant. The bond I’d had previously was nothing like the intense connection I felt now.’
Nicola Carlin, 37, a health visitor, lives in Stockport with partner Hayley, and children Joshua, one, Matthew, 10, and James, 14
’My heart melted as Archie took his first steps towards me’
‘I found out I was expecting Archie three months after having an ectopic pregnancy – the fertilised egg had implanted in the fallopian tube rather than my uterus, and had to be removed, along with the tube itself. I hardly dared hope this second pregnancy would run its course. It was all fine, though, but after Archie was born, I felt slightly removed from what I thought was “normal” motherhood, although I fed, changed and cuddled him. I waited for that first rush of love that everyone talks about, and I worried there was something wrong with me for not bonding with him. But I never admitted this truth to anyone.
Eleven months on, I was sitting in the lounge, watching Archie clutch the sofa as he practised standing up. “Archie, come and play,” I called, expecting him to lower himself and crawl towards me as usual. But he tentatively took a step forwards, and then another one.
“Allan, quick!” I shouted to my partner: “Get the camera!” Incredulous, I watched as Archie walked towards me, his arms outstretched and his face a mixture of excitement and nerves. And the way he looked at me, all vulnerable as if to say “Catch me, Mummy!” melted my heart. For the first time, I felt truly needed by Archie, and united to him. It was as if we suddenly connected on an almost spiritual level. It was a revelation; a complete shift in my relationship with Archie. These days, our special bond is unbreakable, and I adore spending time with him. We constantly share cuddles, and every night he falls asleep holding my hair. And I’ve learned that every mum is different, and there’s no right or wrong time in your little one’s life to form a bond.’
Emma Pearce, 34, a full-time mum, lives in St Austell with partner Allan, and son Archie, 15 months
Harriet and Amelie with baby Darcey, two hours after birth With Kevin and t girls, 11 days aft Darcey’s bi
Gabriella with Lekan, at 37 weeks pregnant Gabriella at her baby shower At 16 weeks pregnant
Joshua, a few hours after birth
Hayley and Nicola at Joshua’s christening
Nico Joshua we
James with Joshua, at six weeks old
on Emma and Archie, the beach this summer
Archie, at one hour old