Friday, December 8, 2017

The Price of Missed Mother/Baby Bonding

“She lacked the usual mother/baby bonding.”

That was one of the entries in the evaluation form that we just went over in Abby’s 504 meeting today.

I know that. I know that the bonding didn’t happen like it *should* have happened. I remember the weeks where we couldn’t even touch her while she fought for her life in the NICU. I remember feeding babies systematically, putting each one down after their bottles were finished so that I could pick up the next baby and get them fed. I remember having to give up nursing to keep my babies from aspirating the breast milk into their lungs and drowning. I remember having babies crawl up to me to be held, but I was too busy trying to get 4 diapers changed and babies bathed, and I couldn't pick them up and snuggle for hours.

I know we didn’t get the cuddle time that we both should have had in her baby days.

I have grieved the loss of what pregnancy and motherhood should have looked like many times. People see a "cute quad family" but they don't realize the lost dreams that are often tied to it. Seeing a missing piece formally written out in official paperwork reopened every lost aspect of that first year that I’ve let heal over with time.

I feel like I failed, but I know I did the best I could given the situation I was in. Four babies and one mom. I didn’t have enough arms. I still don’t.

It’s been a rough year for Abby. She is so smart….genius level IQ…but she struggles with anxiety, social/emotional delays, and sensory integration disorder.

When she gets super anxious, her “fight or flight” response triggers, and she loses all rational. School staff have caught her fleeing the building twice this year already. Both times, they caught her after the first set of double doors, and as she was exiting the second set at the front of the school. I’m incredibly grateful to her teacher, principal, other staff, and the lunch ladies who all know that she is a flight risk. They warn each other if she’s having a rough day, and they pay attention to where she is sitting in the cafeteria to make sure she doesn’t get triggered and start running.

Today we had the first meeting to get a 504 in place at school. She needs some emotional accommodations so that she can focus better and manage the anxiety that pops up without warning. There is no predicting it. She is so social, adores people, and does amazing work at school….but the anxiety can cripple her in an instant, making it impossible to do worksheets or talk to friends.

“She lacked the usual mother/baby bonding.”

I’ll admit to crying in the meeting because I love her so much and don’t want this struggle for her. The teacher and school counselor tried to reassure me and offered to remove the sentence from her evaluation form if it would make me feel better. They weren't blaming me for anything, and made sure to clarify that it was just a collection of data on Abby and her past, but I told them to leave it in because it is part of her story.  Her story is a beautiful one of hope, frustration, love, some downright scary moments, and ultimately God's graciousness on her life. I don't like this part of her story, but I won't edit it out because it's part of what has shaped our sweet spirited little girl...the part where there wasn't enough of me to go around.

I know she is struggling, but tonight I’m struggling too. Wishing I could have done more when she was a baby. I’m heartbroken that although she doesn’t cognitively remember those days when I couldn’t hold her because I was feeding another baby or because she was too fragile…that somewhere deep in the recesses of her visceral and emotional memory, there is a mom who couldn’t meet her basic needs. 

She is one of my miracle babies, and while I wouldn’t trade any of them for the perfect version of motherhood that I thought would come my way when we decided to start a family, I can acknowledge that this quad thing means that some of my kids will struggle long term because of it. And yes, I do realize that even if I had held her constantly, she may still deal with these things, but it's hard to separate out what she didn't have from her struggles today. As a mom, I always wish I could be more for my kids. I think that's only natural.

Raising them doesn’t get easier. It just shifts into something different. Right now, our something different is helping Abby learn how to cope with the world emotionally. We will get there. It’s just another hill to climb, but we will do it together.


  1. I so remember the call that you were expecting and your comment even then...... I don't have enough arms. I've watched you walk this walk always thinking of and fighting for the best for each of you kiddoes. We adore them and you

  2. *virtual hugs*
    It's ok to grieve.
    You are doing an amazing job.
    God is watching over Abby.
    God is watching over you.

  3. Wow, beautifully written. While having twins in no way compares to have quads, I felt the lack of "arms" when I had my twins, especially after having a singleton and having the luxury of holding him all day and being quick with his needs. I felt like the twins cried all the time, my first child never cried, he didn't get the chance. You are a great mom and do your best.

  4. I look at my pudgy little baby that everyone tells me I have spoiled by holding too much, by sleeping with every night, by keeping her close to me... and I remember your words YEARS ago when I said "I want whatever medicine you took to get pregnant" and you said "Don't. Don't wish for quads. Don't try for quads. It isn't something you seek after. It's God's plan for me, and I love each of my babies more than life, but it's not something you want to try for, Didi." (I paraphrased from memory)

    I love you, Becca. I have prayed for you since the day I knew you were pregnant. I have watched your journey and laughed and cried and been angry and ecstatic alongside you (from afar). And, I just want you to know that Abby's life is better from having you. From having her brothers and sister who shared every second of her life simultaneously with her. That the awful, crippling anxiety she is facing today is horrible and sad and shouldn't be... but she is going to be the woman she was supposed to be because of the trials of today. Because of the fast bottles of her first year. God will use this for her good.

    And I also want to say - this sucks. So bad. My heart is grieving for her and for you. I want to snatch up her babyself and just rock her for hours. Or even better to snatch up the others, so you could rock her for hours. I am so sorry she is facing this. I am so sorry you are watching your baby face struggle and hurt.

    I love you.

  5. made me cry. . . I'm surprised that is in her paperwork I guess. . . I feel for you incredibly. . .I'm a single mom to triplets and often wonder if I'm enough for my kids. . . but you are right we are doing are best! Hugs to you!

  6. Having been present in some of those beginning day challenges I want to take this opportunity to say how honored and blessed I was to see how you handled motherhood.. I saw no lack of love care concern or necessary attention. Sure each of them lacked being able to have you hold just one single baby every day all day, but dear Momma you did what you did as only a mother (and their daddy) could do. From The time of conception to this very moment in each of their lives the bonding is blood and Spirit....aww yes I understand the common “bonding” that you are referring to and I DO not at all discount the importance of such....but ... in a super natural wonderful way your bonding to those children is so SO much more than many have .... I love you and my purple Baby B.... and I suppose Sean A C and D...❤️😁😎🤗


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